Mental Monday: When It Comes To Grief, Nothing Is Normal.

After a mother despairingly reached out online minutes before and hours after she learned of the tragic death of her 2 year old son last week, the world questioned her.  They blamed her. And they harassed her. It’s not normal to be online when you’re at the hospital! It’s not normal to post messages hours after your son passes away!, people countered via Twitter and through the media.


Please tell me what is normal when it comes to an anguished and grieving mother. There is no “normal” when it comes to the death of a child. Children are not supposed to die before their parents. Children are supposed to bury their parents. No parent is ever prepared for the death of a child, even when the death is expected. I cannot fathom what this mother went through when she found her son at the bottom of a pool. I have no idea what it’s like to hear the words, your son has passed away, from a doctor. It is unimaginable to me and it’s most likely unimaginable to you, too. So what do we do when the unimaginable happens?  Would you withdraw? Would you reach out? No one can say unless they have actually been there.

In a day and age when social networking is used by billions of people, communicating regularly to others online is as normal as saying *hi* to your next-door neighbor every morning. News from the joyous and happy to the everyday mundane to the sad and tragic are expressed daily in online forums, networks, and communities.  As a social networking user for many years, I have seen first-hand many situations where someone has used social networking to announce an illness, give an updated status on a life-threatening illness, share a tragic story, or inform people of the recent death of their spouse, sibling, parent, etc… Many people need to share their horrifying and tragic situation immediately because it is essential for them to receive immediate solace and comforting. For those that have an online community that they can turn to, there is no better way to receive a large amount of instant support during a critical time.

A shocked and grieving mother reached out to her online community. She needed their prayers. She needed their strength and their comfort. What she did not need was interrogation, armchair investigation, judgment, scorn, or a pitchfork-mentality fueled backlash. No one has a right to judge or question the behavior or actions of a grieving mother who just lost her son. There is no normal behavior and there is no normal grieving process. But what is normal is for a grieving mother to expect support from her community, online or otherwise, when she needs it the most.

Anything you would like to add or share? Please comment below.