Not long ago a person I know told me that me exposing my soul in grief publicly online is very unseemly. Apparently this person does not like that I have openly talked about my grief over my son to the online community. She thinks my grief should be kept “private.”
I explained to her that “It sounds like your family must grieve in a different way and you may find it puzzling as to why I’ve chosen to grieve publicly?” I then went on to say, that from my view, that “one of the remarkable things about grieving online is that there is a world of support “at your fingertips” and it makes people available who have experienced the same or similar types of life events about which they also grieve, and these people may have wonderful and kind words that you may never have heard before in your own circle and family. Sometimes those people have words that are the perfect messages of comfort that can help you through your grief.”
Something about sharing grief and learning better and more positive ways to cope helps in the grieving process. It isn’t about the Internet, it is about how people grieve. Funerals are a way in which the community comes together to comfort the grieving over the death of a loved one. There are many different rituals and sometimes whole groups, even of strangers, come together to mourn the passing of someone, or a missing child, or when an entire community comes together to mourn the loss of a young soldier when his body is returned from overseas. Or when a candlelight vigil turns out to support the family of a missing person, or a fallen firefighter or policeman..
In my own life I can relate to how the community in which I live turned out to support me and my family when my husband was tragically burned to death in a light plane crash caused by a student pilot here on our small airfield at the farm.
Grief for other events, where there is no “body” or where the event is such a public “shame” as having a loved one in prison, or one who has committed crimes in which “all the neighbors know about it” is a matter in which not everyone in the community shares the same kind of grief, or has experienced the same kind of event. While they may feel that you “have problems in your family,” because they have not experienced such an event, they may not understand the gravity of the problems inside your family, or the deep grief from having a family member go to prison.
There was something comforting about connecting to many people “experiencing the same” and being able to talk about it. It doesn’t mean that you are looking for “attention’ it is simply using all tools available to gain insight and to bond and learn from others who have experienced the same. I think it is a positive move towards healing and building self-awareness and is healthy.
Recently I was able to read a story about my son’s victim, Jessica Witt http://familyarrested.com/jessica-witt/, written by her aunt in an on line forum, and able, after over 20 years, to connect to her family in a positive way and let them know just how sorry I am that my son killed their “little girl.” For over two decades I had wanted to connect with them, but felt afraid I would hurt them more. Now, I very much feel a peace I would not have without this connection on line.
I have also been able to contact other parents, such as Charity Lee, that have a psychopath in their family, a son who has murdered someone, in her case, murdered his own sister, so she lost two children in one event. One dead, and the other in prison, a double loss. She is also afraid of that son, as I am afraid of my son. Without the public grieving of both Charity and myself, we would never have made contact except for the internet. I know these connections brought solace to me.
Grief is what we feel when we suffer a loss…through death, losing contact with someone, a severing of a relationship such as a divorce, or any other kind of loss. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (link) studied the stages of grief and has published several books about the stages (link) we go through in our grieving.
Not everyone progresses through grief exactly like others, and some require more time than others, and the various stages we are in may differ from someone else who is also grieving the same loss. I kept my own grief for the loss of my aspirations for my son Patrick “private” for two decades, and it is only now that I have been able to fully come to acceptance of this loss by “going public.” The support of my on line friends who have a son or daughter who is an offender, who have severed their relationships with those offenders are able to validate my own loss. There aren’t many people posting on FamilyArrested, but there are people who have come back 10, 20, even 40 or more times to read the articles and the comments of those who do post, and I feel in my heart that these people who are return visitors must be getting something from those articles and comments or they wouldn’t keep coming back. Those are the people I had hoped to reach with this forum, to provide comfort and validation to those mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and spouses and children of offenders. To help these people cope with the grievous loss and pain that trying to cope with a loved one who repeatedly makes bad decisions.
To learn more about the 5-stages of Grief, and Complicated Grief, go to: http://www.businessballs.com/elisabeth_kubler_ross_five_stages_of_grief.htm