Recently an anonymous blogger I *know* went through a horrible tragedy. There was an accident - a widely publicized one - which made the news and basically unmasked the man behind the blog.
My first thought when I read the news was of shock and horror that a family I've come to care for and admire through his blog are dealing with such a terrible thing. Immediately after the shock subsided, it dawned on me that people were going to find out who he is.
I won't lie here - I've wondered myself who this person really is. I've always wondered. Not because I'm nosy (well maybe a little), but because I think so highly of him. There are few bloggers out there who have made such an impact on me - people that I would cry for when something bad happens. Interestingly, as soon as I found out his real name, it didn't matter.
In fact, it feels strange knowing.
Despite the connection I feel, I don't really know him. I know the blogger, the writer, and the little things about his family that he shares through his posts.
So how do you send condolences to a person you don't know?
Do you send flowers to the funeral home? Or a comment in the online obituary or his blog? Do you attend the funeral?
When he posted what was going on, he knew he was unmasking himself. But as a writer, he needed to get it out there.
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary screamin' out aloud
And I know that you'll use them however you want to.
- Breathe, Anna Nalick
He knew what he was doing when he chose to share this terrible thing with all of the strangers who faithfully read his blog. In spite of losing his anonymity, he wrote about what happened, and took the chance that we would respect his wishes to keep his life seperate from his blog. Comments poured in, most people expressing their sorrow at his terrible loss, and offering prayers and sympathy.
Soon after, another post came with a link to the funeral home, online obits, and the funeral details. Immediately, amidst the offering of prayers and support, people started debating whether or not these were places for us.
There are a lot of opinions about this - and the comments section on his latest post makes me really sad to read. There are a lot of emotions running high right now, and varying points of view that people feel very strongly about. What bothers me is that people are judging other people for their ways of mourning or trying to provide support. In the end, everybody is just trying to heal and to help a person they care about to get through the one of the most difficult things anybody would go through.
So the question is - are we right to send flowers and notices or even attend the funeral? Where is the boundary? Is it the one he set when he started the blog with an anonymous identity? What about the readers who love and respect him for the person he is - do they have a right to greet the man in person and give their condolences?
I make no judgements here, nor will I discuss in this blog what choices I made to help support a person I genuinely care about.
I do ask that anybody reading this post will take a moment, and (if they're the praying kind), say a prayer for a family who has lost two very special people. To those who do know the person I'm writing about, maybe this weekend would be a good time to light a candle for them all...
I'll be back tomorrow with the story about my East London adventures...