DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother was just placed in hospice, and my family and I want to make sure that other family members and loved ones know so that they can send cards right away and visit if they would like. She has been sick for some time, but she has taken a turn for the worse. We have already called the older people whose phone numbers we have, but we also want to reach the younger people. Is it acceptable to reach them through social media? We don't want to do anything that is inappropriate. Is this in poor taste? -- Sending the Message, Winston Salem, N.C.
DEAR SENDING THE MESSAGE: What's great about social media is that you can reach people quickly if they are users of the platforms that you use. Recently I learned about a friend's illness through a direct message on Facebook, which means it wasn't broadcast publicly, but instead sent specifically to people who were connected to this woman. The friend group was asked to pray for her, and we all shared in a collective prayer online. Similarly, I learned of another friend's passing via Facebook. Again, it was sent via a private message. I was asked to let other people know, so I posted the details of the memorial on my Facebook page.
Yes, you can use whichever form of social media will get to your loved ones. Whenever you can communicate privately with them, do so. If your mother does not mind you letting people know broadly, reach out in that way, but have people contact you rather than going directly to her so that you can manage the outreach that comes her way.