The "Grief" Category: Ruminations on BlogHer09

I finally figured out what was getting me about the BlogHer conference back in July. Why I went in expecting to feel different from everyone else, and came out disappointed that the only thing different about me was that I had hoped to be left out, but no one would play along.

(I’ll leave the psychoanalysis aside for a moment and just talk about grief in blogging.)

I went to BlogHer expecting grief in blogs to be like grief in real life: a difficult issue that no one is willing to talk about. I often found myself frustrated that there was no real category for me in the indexes (BlogHer, Bloglines, Blogopedia, Technorati, AllTop, Blogarama, Scribnia… ). I’d list my blog under “family life” or “parenting” even though those choices cut me off from single widows, with whom I generally feel great comradeship.

Checking the wrong box left me feeling misunderstood. After all every widow has a story about the first time she has to check “widowed” on a form, and another about some clueless organization that expects her to select among “single,” “married,” or “divorced.”

When I was at this conference with 1300 other people, mostly women, largely Moms, who write for different publics, I found that grief in blogs really is like grief in real life: a deep vein that shows bright if you scratch the surface. A stone a lot of people are carrying in an inner pocket. You can’t see it, but they might even be fondling it while they talk to you. Grief is so common and such a part of life that it doesn’t make sense to put all those people off in a separate room.

(Leaving aside for a moment, again, that a grieving bloggers conference would be TEH AWESOME). (See. I learned blogger lingo. I’m a pro now.)

We all hope to be lucky enough to write only occasionally about our loss and adaptation. Then we could talk about other subjects: recipes, cute things our kids did, politics... the whole world. Of which grief is, yes, an important part.

Maybe we grief bloggers are just stuck. I’m sure that’s what it looks like from the outside.

Or in some HEY LOOK AT ME phase of tearing hair and rending garment. I suppose it’s a good thing that we might move on to something else.

Blogs that serve only one need for the author do tend to die out. There are abandoned grief blogs all over the place.

But my demands are often unreasonable. Maybe topical categorization is less useful for subjects that span our serious, lumpy, camouflaged, ever-changing emotional lives. Seems we bereaved people do a fairly decent job at finding one another online using the same vehicles we do in real life: through friends (and their blogrolls).

What’s so wonderful about blogs is that they are as in-between as we are. A fresh source of rich, personal information and perspectives that shows humans in all our color and glory (leaving aside, for now, the skew towards people with internet access).

If this diverse democratic distribution of words and images favors the creative, the trouble makers, those who don't fit neatly into one category, who am I to complain?

* * * Comments * * *


Kim said...

I noticed on the agenda there was really nothing about widowhood that didn't involve MOMS who were widowed. It made me feel like my grief didn't matter.
I hope next year BlogHer has a track for grief and widowhood in general, that includes everyone. I am going next year and hope I find such a venue.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...


I couldn't find a single widow on the BlogHer09 agenda, which definitely informed the way I approached the conference (I did meet one widow, literally in my last 5 minutes).

There were a few speakers who are known for blogging about grief and loss (Heather Spohr, Kate Inglis) and, as I mentioned, the hidden vein throughout.

I am till torn about next August: BlogHer10 or SSLF Camp Widow? Too bad they're head to head. Although, I couldn't swing both anyway.




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