Monday, November 21, 2005

After The Exodus...A Five Part Series On Grief Management

"I just learned that there's going to be a lot of painful times in life, so I better learn to deal with it right away."

-Trey Parker & Matt Stone
South Park

The events of the past week have been devastating. For those of us who now consider ourselves refugees of AOL Journal Land, we have faced finding an entirely new home for our inner most thoughts and feelings. We are faced with learning a brand new way to journal and we are still looking back on the routines we knew so well with longing. It was a comfort, especially when we were hurting, to log onto our journals and take for granted how easy it would be to let the pain out. We could put our deepest feelings down in words, and soon someone would come by to help us through it.

I know the feeling of being loved through a time of grieving. My good friend Frank passed away in December of 2003, just a few months after we met through our journals on AOL. Frank was a very good listener, and a very good man. His loss still pulses through the community, he is still missed so much that he was recently nominated for a VIVI Award, which is a peer to peer recognition. It was hard to know that suddenly Frank wouldn't be there anymore to share in my life. To make me laugh, to help me feel a little less scared and unsure about my writing on my journal, to encourage me to keep picking up the camera and looking for beauty. We all felt the shock of him suddenly being taken from us, and the feelings we all had, though individually, brought us together because we were sharing a common loss and the common occurrence after any loss...grief.

Grief is it's own entity. It will manifest whether we want it to or not. It is the sudden anger we feel when there is no particular reason to feel upset. It is the sadness we feel when it seems like there is no way to ever feel better, it is the begging we do with ourselves or others to just please "make it right" so we can stop feeling so completely lost. It is the feeling like it must not really be happening. The loss somehow isn't real..."it just can't be." I know one or two things about these feelings, I felt them when Frank passed away and all over again less the two weeks later I found out my own mother had passed away and no one had told me.

What we have all just gone through together and yet,individually, is a loss. A huge one. Sometimes I think anger is the easiest of all the five stages of grief to understand and deal with. Anger can make you proactive. It can make it very clear what you are thinking and feeling and why. When I have faced the death of someone I have loved, it was anger that always manifested itself first. But if it isn't kept in check a lot of damage can take place, sometimes damage we regret terribly later on after we have finished the stages of grief we inevitably arrive at and endure.

I want to help this time of transition go a little less painful for this community. Whether you have joined me here on Blogspot or if you have chosen to remain at AOL Journals, you are still my friends and my community neighbors. I don't care any less for you because we have faced some bad decisions on the part of AOL. Nothing has to change if down deep we really don't want it to. So, at the request of a few of my journal land friends and neighbors I will be running a five part series on grief management beginning next Monday, November 28th, and running through Friday, December 2nd. My goal is to have members from both AOL Journals and members here on Blogspot come by to share how they are feeling and how we try to bridge this gap together.

Loss will happen in life. I have come to know this so intimately that sometimes it feels like it is the only thing that really happens passionately and completely, but I really know that while it's presence is certainly invasive, and at times way to hard to take, I know it has to be done to reach the peace that will be the final acceptance of the loss. Yes, acceptance...that is the warm hug that allows you to move forward...and believe me it does. If I had never experienced loss I would say tell me I don't know about what I am talking about, but trust me...I do know what grief is.

Please encourage as many people as you can think of to join us. If they have vowed to never read a journal written by a Blogspot is perfectly ok to be a lurker, no one has to know they were here. If you know someone who is having a hard time learning to adjust to their new home here and all the new things we have to learn about Blogspot...well...have them come by and let them see they aren't all the things we tend to tell ourselves we are when we are frustrated. You know...stupid, slow, dumb bunny. Those are just my personal adjectives for myself...but from here on out I need to take my own advice and realize I am grieving the loss of all the work and love I put into Ellipsis. Over 2 years worth of my personal history. Of course it hurts.But hey, a little grief anger yesterday allowed me to teach myself how to add links to my sidebar. I did it myself. That is the good side of grief anger...feeling proactive.

Please leave all comments and questions you would like to see addressed in this upcoming series in the comment thread of this entry only. If you leave a question or comment in a different comment section there is a good chance it could be overlooked. It is a goal for me to make this as indepth and helpful as possible so that we can all find that common ground that brought us together as neighbors and friends anyway...the ability and need to reach out and share ourselves through community spirit and light.



Spencer said...

Count on me to be there,Carly. I need it too. Thanks to you and those who suggested it.

My comfort has been interrupted.

Karen Funk Blocher said...

You know I'll be there, dear friend, and I will mention it on three--count 'em, three!--blogging services. :)


Chris said...

I'll be there Carly. I've grieved the loss of one too many people over the past couple of years, as well as my journal. :( This is a difficult time of year for me. Maybe this will help out a bit. Thanks girlfriend!

Becky said...

I think I've fast forwarded strait through to Acceptance. But then...maybe I'm in denial. ;-) Where ever I'm at...I am buzzing with anxiety over moving my archives over to my new blogspot.

Judith HeartSong said...

so much change in such a short period...... we are all one community, no matter what aol has done and where our journals are hosted.

Gaboatman said...

Count me in, Carly. This sounds like a very good thing you are going to do. I'm sure we can all benefit. Thanks!

Candace said...

You put the feelings of the last week into words for me. Thanks.
Candace (formerly Bettern Than Kicking the Dog)

Anna said...

I think this 5 part series on Grief will be a wonderful help to many, myself included. Thank you, Carly for doing this. You'll be helping many of us deal with the loss, how very sudden it was, unexpected. How hard it is to go on without that part of us, and begin anew. Thank you.

love, anna

Poetry Dancer said...

I am looking forward to your series Carly :) Hoping that despite all the ups and downs that everyone can still remember that despite where you lodge your journal or blog, it's still the people behind the words that matter. :)


Shelly said...

I understand people feel grief, loss, at what happened at AOL. But I'd like to propose that it's a different situation, one folks can control their reactions to. I lost my mother almost 25 years ago, and many other family members, so I know true loss. Those people will never come back into my life.

But the bloggers are still mostly around, on AOL, on Blogger, and elsewhere. In time, the AOL exiles (I don't consider myself one because I willingly ventured out from AOL around the same time I started my first AOL journals). I look at this situation as I looked at my own move to Blogger and LiveJournal, as a chance to explore, to growth, to learn, to have adventures that can be shared with fellow bloggers. Communities are made, and online, they don't even need the same hosting service to work.

Yes, it can be scary, but it can also be exciting and fun, an opportunity to try and do new things. I've tried, just for the experience (so I could write reviews of them on my blog), BlogDrive, BlogCity, Bloggigo, and currently, the new blogging service, just to see what it's like.

Think of this as a new toy, with lots of fun accessories. :)

Donna said...

Gee, I'm not grieving... is something wrong with me? All my favorite journals are still one click away; it's just a different URL. I was a bit shocked at first, until I realized most of the people who moved still accepted me. All of them, in fact, that I cared about. What's the problem?

Shelly said...

Hi, Carly,

In response to your comment on Presto Speaks! (I'm reposting it here, to make sure you see it):

I understand what you're trying to do and applaud it. A lot of folks seem to need it. I'm just offering up another way to look at this, when folks are ready. :)

Steven said...

I don't know how I'm feeling. Last week I felt some anger and some resentment. This the third big SNAFU for me with AOL since last December.

I'm good at distracting myself so I have no idea when I'll enter grief stages or if I will at all. I've lots to do while I move into my new blog.

I dunno :-)

jennifer said...

I went through that explosive anger part, primarily because of the shock of it all. But honestly, I think I was a pressure cooker ready to blow for many non-AOL reasons and the desecration of my journal was just the thing to release that valve.

The other day I immediately thought that "I must write about this" and, like usual during that moment, I even had the layout pictured in my mind. Then I realized. It hit me. I didn't have that place anymore. And the realization sunk in. It was very much like the first time I picked up the phone and began to dial my mother's number then stopped to remember that she wasn't there anymore. Or the first time I waved at who I thought was my grandfather, then remembered he was gone. Or the first time I called for the pup who had left me the day before.

It was very much like that. Not on the same scale, of course, but the realization was a moment I'll remember.

But, like Becky, I think I'm settling into acceptance. I will miss the community feel of AOL-J, but the community is still intact, even though it may be in the midst of turmoil. We will find each other again. At least I hope so.

moose be dreamin' said...

I had lunch with a pal the other day and mentioned to her that I saw something on PostSecret that was sent in by the person over whom I have grieved the most in my entire life. The note was "But I can't forget you." - That may have been written to another lady, or it could have been written to me. I have no way of knowing that ... but I am CERTAIN he wrote it because I'd know his handwriting anywhere. That grief to me was a lot like what you've described with the loss of your journal. I would probably have been grieving the loss of specifically yours, but other journals as well had we not found this new home. My hat goes off to you for bringing us together in a spirit of healing.
Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray for Carly!!

hugs n such. Glenda

Jess said...

What a very good and healthy thing to do! I'll make sure to mention it in my journal. I know that there are a lot of folk hurting from what happened back in J-Land.

I myself am trying to look at this as an expansion of the community. It's forcing me to go outside J-Land and read more. It's also good because I can learn how the new journal (blog) sites work. This will help me when I decide to move.

I will keep reading. Y'all be good!

KathyZee said...

Nice idea Carly. I'll be checking in and have linked this entry to my journal.

Barb said...

Hi hon. I was happy to see that your invitation included those of us who remained where we were. I received a lot of nasty email from people I'd grown to love, simply because I chose to nurture myself like I try to nurture others. People who know me understand that of all the words in the dictionary, "Goodbye" is the word I hate the most. In staying where I am, I am taking care of myself; allowing myself to be happy. I do not regret my decision, just hate the goodbyes forced on me. Love everybody as much as ever, and always will.