Thursday, September 6, 2012

Writing up to the edge of a life

A few days ago I began to actively search out blogs to include in the Storytelling Directory (up until now I've just added links that were sent to me). I noticed that a lot of people that blog about a topic, such as addiction or illness, will include in their blogrolls other bloggers who write about the same issues. I could (and did) spend an entire day clicking and clicking.

Thus it was I found myself reading through a number of cancer blogs on Saturday. If you ever want to feel fortunate about your life, read a cancer blog. I found them to be moving and hopeful and profoundly sad.

What I began to notice, however, was this. Many of the blogs posted regularly and then simply ended. There would be a post about going into hospital for treatment, and then there would be no more posts. It was like coming upon a sudden drop off at the edge of a cliff. I stood there on the precipice, staring at these final posts and feeling my heart drop.

Sometimes, there would be a post from a family member, announcing the writer's death. Sometimes there was just nothing. To say it was haunting is an understatement.

On one there was a picture of a young man in a hospital gown, bald but smiling. I wanted to reach through time and catch his attention. Tell him I was sorry I didn't find his blog sooner, just tell him goodbye.

Initially, I would close each page and then continue on with my search. But after a bit, it struck me. Why censor these blogs out? Were these writer's stories not every bit as important as anyone else's?

These were their final narratives. Testimony and tribute to their lives.

Think about it. If you were to die, would you want your blog forgotten? Delicately set aside so it wouldn't upset anyone? Would your words be any less important? Or would they perhaps be more important?

I've chosen to include them. I will label them as deceased so readers know beforehand and can make a choice about whether or not they want to read.

Before I made the decision, I put up a discussion on my Facebook page and those who responded were also pretty adamant about including them. So there it is.

I remember when Lulu died. Lulu was a blogger well known in Australian blogging circles. Her sister died and then the following week she died. They were both young. They both had young children. It seemed so insensible. This happened a year and a half ago. People still read her blog today. They still want to know her story.

I'm going to have to go back and search for many of the blogs again (I didn't bookmark them). I haven't yet, but I will.


There are now more than 130 blogs in the directory. And about a jillion more that I've yet to link. The Addiction page is now live. I'm moving through it at a metered pace, trying to take it all in.

This project has been eye-opening. Inspiring, confronting, painful, hopeful, sobering. Amazing.


  1. I don't think I'd be brave enough to do what you're doing. I read about the deaths of Lulu and her sister, but I only discovered Lulu's blog after she died. Very, very sad...

    1. I'm not sure doing this is necessarily brave, though I think I understand what you're saying -- that it can be difficult to read difficult stories. My ability to do so waxes and wanes, depending on how I'm doing myself. Sometimes when we're facing our own challenges we need to insulate ourselves.

  2. This makes me think of something else (sort of related) -- I think all bloggers should have a list of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and blog accounts, passwords etc, and that there should be someone trustworthy nominated to de-activate or update those accounts should the blogger die.
    Worth thinking about, worth taking a few minutes to write it all down and file somewhere safe.

    1. It's almost like a Code of Conduct... I often think I ought to request my nearest and dearest post something on my blog should the unthinkable happen. Just something, out of respect for readers and rapport. There are so very many of us who really only communicate via online means. And I'd be devastated to lose any of them and not know what happened/where/why they'd suddenly gone.

    2. Toni, I've had the same thought and actually have a plan in place. I guess it's just one of those stark realities we all have to consider.

  3. Hi Kristen,

    My name is Seema and there are so many synergies between us. For one, I, too, am from California and now live in Australia (Sydney, to be exact). I am also a huge advocate for the power of storytelling in healing, and I have developed an entire project devoted to it.

    So as not to eat up this entire comment thread, I'll just post a link to it. I think it really resonates with you're doing.

    Would love to chat more!


    1. Hi Seema, I just sent you a long (and somewhat rambling) email. I LOVE your project and absolutely want to visit with you about it. Thanks for commenting.

      BTW, I added your personal blog (This is not Pretty) to the directory under depression. x

  4. I often wondered what happened to Lulu and her sister's children, I would have loved if someone in her family had been able to update us over time. Their story was so unbelievably sad.

    There is also an American blog I was following, and Joan was in remission and then she stopped blogging and I keep going back, hoping, just hoping that someone will write there again. Of course, I am hoping it is Joan that comes back to write, I hope she is well.

    K, you have so much strength, I admire you for so many things, but reading through all these blogs, taking the time to share with others, to help others on similar journeys is outstanding.

    This will undoubtedly sounded weird, but YOU ROCK my world xxx

    1. I wonder too, Kakka. I wonder if there is anyone I can contact to get an update. I'm sure others are concerned, as well.

      That is always unnerving when someone stops blogging. Sometimes it's just a personal decision, but in that case there is usually a final post with an explanation.

      Thanks for your kind words. I think you're quite amazing too. x

  5. “that as long as we are being remembered, we remain alive.”
    ― Carlos Ruiz Zafón

    It's good to know these bloggers won't be forgotten.

    You amaze me.

    1. I love that quote. So much truth in that.

  6. It's so beautiful. It's yet another beautiful portal into the *other* inevitable side of life. You've put it into words so touching (once again). Of course you are doing the right thing. And it had to be you. Honest, caring, integrity-filled you.

    1. Yes, I suppose it's just another one of those taboo subjects that personal storytelling can help normalize, like abuse or depression. Death is a predictable part of life, like it or not. I think we need to look it in the face. x

  7. Every blog is a testament to our humanity... literally voices out in the wilderness.

  8. Thanks for including my blog on the addiction page.
    One of the sober bloggers I read daily stopped blogging 3 months ago. It's hard not knowing what happened.
    I keep a list of my blogger name and password just in case someone else needs it.

  9. I saw the Facebook discussion on this, and now only just catching up with it. Congratulations on doing an amazing job with putting it all together. I am sure it will be a huge help for many many people. What a journey this must have been for you. Final narratives are so haunting. And so important. Yes, I'm sure these deceased bloggers would want their words to live on.

  10. Laying in bed this morning. Not exactly sure how or why this post popped into my radar. I need the gentle reminder to continue reading this and the storytelling part on must computer very phone.

    Thanks so much for putting this out there.

    I know myself as I read abt others and their battle with depression it gives me added boost often to keep on going.


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