In Case You Didn’t Know: Why It Hurts To Steal Someone Else’s Words

Over a year ago (maybe two now?) there was an incident in which a bereaved mom took my words and passed them off as her own.  

It was painful.  

Not because I’m pridefully invested in getting credit for the words but because I am emotionally invested in this blog as a record of my own grief journey and as a way to honor my son.  

It’s simply NOT OK to copy/paste and pass another’s words as your own.  

Just the other day a mom posted on a closed site that she had questioned another mom when the words she claimed as her own sounded too familiar.  Mom #1 googled the text and found that, sure enough, it was a direct quote from Angela Miller, a published author and fellow bereaved mother.

Mom # 1 challenged Mom # 2 but was shouted down by others because, after all, “everything is fair game on the Internet”.  

That’s untrue.    

Online publishing is subject to copyright laws as much as print publishing.  The fact that an author is willing to make the work freely available and easily shareable does not remove the obligation to give appropriate credit and use accurate citations.

sharing-economy-650x400

Grief is not a “free pass” to bad behavior.  

This blog is a record of my own grief journey and honors my son and my family.   

What grieving parent would want another person to steal (yes, steal!) his or her expression of the long, dark tunnel that is child loss?  What grieving parent would think that it’s alright to take a beautiful arrangement from the resting place of one child and put it on the resting place of another?

It’s out there, unprotected, in plain view, so what difference does it make?

The same common courtesy we expect to guide behavior in cemeteries should be the same common courtesy we can expect to guide behavior in online grief groups. 

I, and others. put our thoughts and emotions out there for parents to read in the hope that by reading them they will feel less alone.  

Most of us never make a dime from what we write.  

But we hope that whoever reads it, finds it helpful and then shares it, will honor our efforts by acknowledging the source.  We hope they will honor our child by using quotes and leaving his or her name in place.

It’s a beautiful thing to find words to express something deep in your heart.  

Just make sure to let folks know you found them and didn’t author them.  

Such a small act of gratitude for an amazing gift.  

me too sharing the path

Bone Deep Grief

My fellow bereaved mother and blogger, Kathleen Duncan, recently wrote that she felt she was done writing about grief.

It’s been  a little over four years since her son Andrew ran ahead to heaven and, as she explains:

I think I’m done.

I think I’m done writing about death. Writing and thinking about death, grief, and pain doesn’t help me anymore. And it may be detrimental for me to spend time writing about those topics. ~ Kathleen B. Duncan

Both our sons were killed instantly in an accident (although the details are different) and both were vibrant young men pursuing what they loved when they left this life.

That got me to thinking since I’m only a few months behind her in my own grief journey.

Because my experience seems to be very different from hers.  

I still find writing not only helpful, but healing.  And while I think of many things in addition to grief, I still think about grief often-not only my own, but that of others.  Not only the grief of bereaved parents, but of all the suffering, broken people I meet or hear about each day.

The feeling is different, but it remains.  

At first my grief was so overwhelming and the sorrow loomed so large that it was constantly before my eyes.  Everything I saw, heard, experienced or felt was filtered through tears.  The world was a blurry place and life was unbearably hard.  Every day I labored to lift my head from the pillow and roll my body from the bed.  Every morning I remembered afresh that Dominic was not here, that my family circle was broken, that another 24 hours loomed large and lonely before me.

It’s definitely not like that anymore.

But, for me, what’s changed is the location of my sorrow and sadness, not the FACT of it.

Now, instead of being in front of me, my sorrow has bored its way into my bones.  It rests deep inside the core of who I am, woven into the fabric of me.

I think of it like I think of being a mother.  

My “baby” is 25 years old.  But if I hear a plaintive “Mama!” in a store, I instinctively turn to see where the desperate or needy child may be.  I can’t resist even when my head tells me that whoever it is, isn’t MY responsibility.

My heart responds because “Mama” is an unchangeable part of my identity.

I don’t cry every day.  I don’t only see, feel or hear things through a veil of tears anymore. But bereavement has changed me forever.  It remains part of the way I experience the world.

I appreciate Kathleen.  I hate that we are part of the same “club” where the dues are higher than anyone would willingly pay but I love the precious community of loving parents who are willing to share their journeys through blogs, closed groups and published books.

And I am blessed by honesty, transparency and authenticity-whatever that looks like.

For me, that’s to continue writing about my grief journey.  For someone else, maybe not. 

There’s room for everyone because what calls courage to MY heart might not call courage to yours. 

I suspect that just as our children are unique, the circumstances surrounding their deaths unique and we are unique, so will be our grief experience. 

grief-is-as-individual-as-a-snowflake