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On Grieving and the Internet

I was interviewed this week for an article called The Way We Grieve, about the various coping methods that have arisen in today's modern age. It's a subject I'm always interested in discussing, particularly in how it pertains to the internet.

Although it didn't appear in the article, the interviewer and I talked at length about why people take comfort in sending text messages to or writing on the Facebook pages of their lost loved ones. I told her that I see the Internet as this wonderful void, as a place that has no end, no walls, no finality. When you send a message out into it, there is a feeling that it's not going to bounce back to you, and if that's the case, then it might possibly find its way to the person you're sending it to, wherever they are.

Laptop When I first started this blog my father was in the final days of his life. I was 25 years old and living with him in a condo in Southern California, taking care of him under hospice. Much of the time I felt scared and alone and unsure of how to do the things that were required of me.

I still remember the moment I wrote my first blog entry, still remember the way it felt to send my private thoughts and fears out into such a public forum. I had no idea if anyone would ever read them, but that was kind of the point. I was getting to say all the things that were bottled up in my head, all thoughts and feelings that kept me up at night. Somehow it was better than just writing them in a journal. Instead of collecting dust in a drawer, all those words were actually going somewhere.

It seems that lots of other people have taken comfort in this same idea. From Through the Glass, whose author lost her sister to an untimely death three years ago, to Heather Spohr who lost her beloved daughter Maddie, to Dear Audrey whose author lost her husband suddenly and uses her blog as a means of keeping his memory alive for their young daughter. 

Six weeks after I started writing my blog my father died, and that night I wrote an entry about it. That may seem strange to some people, but by then the blog had become something real. Living alone in that condominium, the blog had become my only connection to something bigger. It was a place that reminded me that there was still a world beyond what I was going through, and that maybe one day I would join it again.

Over the last 7 years since I have been blogging, I have met so many incredible people. Some of them I have only corresponded with. Others I have actually met and become friends with. One of them I married. I can't even begin to describe how grateful I am to have had the Internet in my life. The way it has helped me to grieve, the way it has allowed me to connect with others and the places it has opened up for me, have changed my life over and over again.

If you are grieving for a loved one and are unsure of where to turn, there are readily available grief support networks all across the Internet and the country. Sharing your grief with others can be one of the most profound ways of healing.

2 Comments

  1. Love you, Claire!!! xoxoxoxoo

    Comment by francesca on September 15, 2010 at 6:09 pm

  2. Love you too, Fran! :)

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on September 15, 2010 at 8:36 pm

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