I heard something on a recent podcast (maybe NPR's Science Friday?) about how online social networks allow us to have far more relationships than we can realistically have in person.
There are some fun aspects to this. Need people to support you while you get fit? You can find dozens of online communities ready to do that! Want to connect with parents who have kids your age? Groups are already formed, with plenty of moms and dads ready to give you advice about everything from circumcision to schooling.
But along with all the positive connections, come all the heartbreaking stories. I wrote in January about losing Anna, an online mommy friend. I was surprised just how hard that was--someone I hadn't met in person and who I wasn't that close to online. In a project I did for her family, I found both healing...and difficulty. It taxed my emotions.
Yesterday another mom, from the same little online mom's group where I met Anna, lost her 21-month-old baby girl. I know this mom through our group and Facebook, but we don't know each other well.
My reaction has been interesting. Some of it hasn't been surprising. Of course I prayed while the little girl was sick, and am praying for her family. Of course my heart aches--as a mom, the thought of another mom losing her little child is horrifying and heartbreaking.
But I also feel a certain caution inside me--something saying, "Be careful, Beth. Don't let this get you too down." That might sound callous--a mother and father lost their child. It's unspeakably tragic.
But I'm realizing--with the dozens of purely-online relationships I have, it wouldn't be healthy to take on every tragedy as my own. Sometimes I can honor someone by grieving deeply with them. And sometimes I need to honor them by praying, by enjoying my own children, by being grateful for the gifts in my life...but not by being overwhelmed with grief.
I would really love to hear your thoughts on this, and your experiences. Thank you for reading...and thank you for the conversation that happens in that Comments section below. I appreciate you!