When my grief was fresh, I fought hard against Facebook and Instagram. It seemed like a dangerous place to go. Why would I willingly enter a space that was designed to share a filtered worldview? Why, when my world was so dark, would I glance upon a world that encourages the viewer to wear rose-colored glasses? (Or, in the case of Instagram, Clarendon-colored glasses?)
I went there because I was lonely.
I have never felt as alone as I did during those first weeks of grief. Even though I was surrounded by loved ones and my mailbox overflowed with sympathy, it felt like there was no one who could truly understand what I was experiencing.
I wanted to run down the streets of my small town screaming “Has anyone else had a stillbirth? Has anyone else lost a child?” until someone came outside to run with me. I came close once or twice, but that would have required me to leave my nest of blankets and to pause my Netflix. So, you know, not going to happen.
Instead, I settled for the alternative. I bravely went to Google and I typed the words: stillbirth support. And thus began a days-long journey through the tangles of the world wide web.
If I wasn’t sleeping, I was on my phone or computer furiously searching for a connection. If I could find a link to my own story, then I knew there must be another link and another beyond that. There was a community out there, but they had to be found and I was going to find them. I became like a weird, grief-driven version of Nancy Drew; following little clues and partial footprints until I found who I was looking for.
The first signs of my soon-to-be community began to trickle towards me. Soon, I was facing a rush of support, solidarity, and unwavering love like I had never known. I had found my tribe, my family, my people. In the seemingly untethered world of cyberspace, I had found a place to rest my head and my heart. I was home.
It’s been nearly two years since I started my quest and what a world I have discovered for myself. During a time when so many are turning their back on social media and warning of its negative impact on our world, I find myself staring straight ahead at the screen.
Social media is where my community lives and I can’t turn my back on them. Our world of grief and love and honesty exists in hashtags and memes. Our stories are visible because of blogs and URLs. Our solidarity is demonstrated through our live videos, our comment threads, and the photos we share.
I can’t imagine a life without Ginny and Nathalie and Danielle and Emily and Lindsey and Rachel and Diana and Chris and Franchesca and every single one of the incredible people that I have become linked to through social media. Their hyperlinks have become the links I once searched for when I dreamed of finding a whole community.
I found my community in the virtual world and they now reside somewhere much closer to my heart.
To find your missing link, visit my Resources page or visit one of the other blogs that I follow here on WordPress.