Edit, December 18th: Dear Anonymous Commenters: While I respect your ‘right’ to have your own opinions, and will happily approve comments that disagree with my thoughts/opinions on this subject, I do reserve the right to delete outright venom….especially those who choose to mask themselves in the cloak of anonymity. I will approve comments from people who are willing to make statements and stand by them. You can be as mad as you like….fortunately, I have only deleted a total of 3 comments – two of them from the same IP address, yet using different aliases (and calling me pathetic for deleting the hatred) I’m thinking ‘pathetic’ is a term that can be reserved for people crucifying a grieving mother. This space, this site, will continue to be one where Shellie Ross is both respected and can feel comfortable.
As a general rule, I stay well outside the bounds of controversy. I avoid tweeting about politics, religion and most online battles I see being waged.
This is not because I am void of opinions, but merely that I have chosen to maintain a decidedly neutral online presence – at least that has been my goal.
Today feels different.
Today, my soul was offended. Today, our community reeked, not only of sadness, but anger.
Today a Mother – dealing with the most unimaginable tragedy found herself on the receiving end of some pure nastiness.
Shellie Ross, @Military_Mom, lost her son yesterday. He drowned in their pool. She will never again hold his hand, stroke his hair, or stay up late protecting him from the monsters under the bed. She won’t get to send him off to Kindergarten or cling to the side of the car as he learns to drive.
And somehow, a few determined that it was ‘inappropriate’ for her to share her grief on Twitter. They have spent the day picking her apart – questioning the timeline, even the veracity of her loss – with some going so far as to blame her. My teeth are clenched so tightly as I type this I can picture my teeth splintering.
How DARE YOU add to her pain? How DARE YOU question HOW she grieves?
A mother who has lost a child is entitled to ask for medication, run around naked or quite simply, reach out to her network of support – even if they are online.
For so many of us, Twitter and other forms of social media are a veritable life line. We do tweet when we are happy, when we are furious and YES – when we are crushed by grief or frightened out of our minds. Why? Because we know there is someone listening. And because usually that someone cares. We have nurtured our online friends to that point that it no longer matters if we have hugged in person – because we are getting to know each other intimately, regardless of distance.
I tweeted when I was told my then 4 year old daughter might have Kawasaki’s Disease. I tweeted because I was scared and had been given very little information. I tweeted because I knew I could count on love and support. And I got it. Dozens of people took time from their days to research the disease for me and put my mind at ease. And hundreds of others prayed, offered assistance or cried along with me.
Twitter is a virtual phone tree. Especially when support is needed. Consider @anissamayhew’s stroke and subsequent love, prayers and much needed support. Consider the blanket of kindness that surrounded @mamaspohr when she lost her sweet Maddie – and the thousands of dollars raised in Maddie’s name for the March of Dimes. Consider the strangers who sacrificed their coffee money to provide breast milk for Baby Jaeli, therefore saving her life. But somehow, today was different.
These are all examples of pure goodness. Online goodness. And many of the people who reached out in these circumstances were strangers. At least they were at the beginning. So many of the same lovely supporters were out in droves today, but there was the added element of defensiveness. I am disturbed by this.
I understand the need to be skeptical. Really, I do. But, please, please do it quietly. Clearly you heard about Shellie’s loss via someone you were following. Ask them about it. Some of my followers reached out to me for information. Follow along. Or better yet, ignore it. And, most importantly, refrain from adding to someone’s already insurmountable pain and suffering.
I was disgusted to see that the people who did the bulk of the ‘supposing’ and ‘investigating’ today were entirely unfamiliar with this community. (One brand new account – who was ‘investigating’ the situation mysteriously disappeared early in the day) They are either new to twitter or have yet to access and understand its potential.
Because I have met Shellie, because I have hugged her in real life, because I personally know people who talked to her after the fact or who sat by her side last night, I reached out and tweeted to the doubters. Though we aren’t best friends and I didn’t speak to her – I knew. So, I told them the truth.
In a tragic accident, Shellie did lose her son.
Surprise, they never responded to me. They simply continued to perpetuate the notion that Shellie’s twitter history was somehow suspect. And even once the ‘official’ story hit a news site – it wasn’t good enough since Bryson’s name wasn’t listed.
This tells me, though the claim was to save people from falling victim to a scam, the true motivation behind the negative and doubting tweets was simply to be a disturber.
And that, is Pure B.S.
My hope, my true prayer, is that there is a cocoon of love and support that manages to surround Shellie and insulate her from people who would rather throw stones than offer her a shoulder to cry on.
Shellie – you are in my thoughts and prayers. I am so truly sorry for your loss.
Friend – you grieve however you want. We will grieve with you.