Social Media No-no? Julianne Hough Posts Photo of Grandfather’s Open Casket on Instagram

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
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Julianne Hough (Photo: Getty Images)

Everybody handles grief differently?

After filling her Instagram feed with bikini party pix last week, Julianne Hough made a sharp left turn on us over the weekend. She lost her grandfather, northern Idaho radio personality Robert Virgil Hough, and paid tribute to him in several thoughtful posts. One, however, stood out from the others — a photo of her grandfather’s open casket with her brother, Derek, standing next to it paying his respects.

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(Photo: Instagram)

We live in a tech-fueled world, but the photo seemed out of place amid the Dancing With the Stars alum’s standard Instagram fare: bikini shots, dog pix, selfies, and lip gloss tips. These days, not a lot is off limits, thanks to social media, but aren’t wakes and open caskets?

We aren’t the only ones who think they should be. Among the nearly 1,000 comments on the photo, which she captioned with a series of emojis (a baby, an old man, and an angel) were some people calling her out.

“Why would you post such a personal family moment on social media. Poor choice,” wrote geriferrara. Then there was ldamico1961, who commented, “What’s wrong with you @juleshough This is morbid. Why you ever think this is proper?” And Instagram user cynthiaboyd92 asked, “Why do we have to post everything on social media?? When I’m at a funeral of someone I love I’m too overcome with Grief to do something like this just so others can see it??”

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One of Hough’s thoughtful posts about the late radio personality. (Photo: Instagram)

Not everyone saw it as “morbid” or a “poor choice,” though. Many of the dancer-actress’s fans posted comments of support after the initial backlash. So does posting a casket pic cross a line? We decided to consult lifestyles and etiquette expert Elaine Swann, who said yes and no.

“Social media has got us in an oversharing stage. It really does,” Swann tells Yahoo Celebrity. “In my opinion, when we post, we really have to be concerned about those who are going to view it and how they might feel about what we have posted. Etiquette is about putting people at ease. You should not post things that are going to make people uncomfortable. Not only intimate parts of your life but areas such as this — death. You don’t know what kinds of memories a post like this could trigger for someone else. It could be upsetting.”

She continued, “This doesn’t mean we have to please everyone all of the time, but it is important to be concerned about how others might feel. I think she got caught up in the moment. If you look at some of her posts just prior to this, her grandfather seemed very popular and well-loved, and it seems she just wanted to share this whole thing with folks who loved him as well. But [that photo] is not necessarily the best choice, and that’s my opinion.”

That said, there’s nothing wrong with taking those photos, said Swann.

“Nothing wrong with it at all — really and truly,” she says. “This dates back to the 1800s, when people would take photos postmortem. They’d do it to document in family albums. Lots of families still do it today. It’s not unusual. If we did a survey, you’ll find that lots of families in America have taken photos of their deceased loved ones at funerals. So it’s really not unusual to take the photos, but … now we’re posting them. I think she should have held off posting that one. All the other thoughtful posts about him and his memories and the family gathering, that was pretty much the extent of it. Not necessarily the body itself.”

While Hough’s photo choice raised eyebrows, last week we were applauding her use of social media to get in front of a story when she kept a paparazzi agency from cashing in on her family during their Mexican vacation.

Hey, she can’t score a perfect 10 every time.