Blogging Your Way Through Grief


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This is my presentation, "Blogging Your Way Through Grief" from the The Compassionate Friends 2012 National/International Conference in Costa Mesa, California.

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Blogging Your Way Through Grief

  1. 1. PRESENTED BY: JACQUELINE L. DeVITOThe Compassionate Friends 2012 National/International Conference July 20-22, 2012 Costa Mesa, California
  2. 2. Do not regret growing older.It is a privilege denied to many. -Unknown
  3. 3. Agenda• About Me• About My Sister, Jennifer• My Journey Through Grief• Why We Write During Grief• Blogging vs. Journaling• Getting Started
  4. 4. Agenda• Creating Your Blog• Logging Into Your Blog• Selecting Your Theme• The Dashboard• Customizing Your Blog• Post vs. Page
  5. 5. Agenda• Adding a New Post or Page• New Post Via E-Mail• Categories and Tags• Adding Images• Editing an Image• Managing Comments
  6. 6. Agenda• Publicizing Your Blog Posts• What To Blog About• Site Stats• What’s Next• Learn More• Keep In Touch
  7. 7. About Jacqueline• From Dutchess County, NY• Graduate of UAlbany• Sister of Alpha Xi Delta (AΞΔ)• Published in The Quill of Alpha Xi Delta• Wanted to go to law school, but found myself working as a Project Manager for a small start-up• Have always been web savvy
  8. 8. About Jennifer• My younger and only sister• Passed away at 18; I was 22• Loss was sudden• Beautiful, charismatic, always happy• Was a coach for The Silver Starlites, a traveling baton twirling team• Survived by my parents, my brother and myself
  9. 9. My Journey Through Grief• Siblings are the forgotten mourners• Constantly told to stay strong for my family• Tried two different support groups, but did not feel they worked for me• Gave journaling a try, but spent more time decorating it then writing in it
  10. 10. My Journey Through Grief• Started my blog because I would rather type my thoughts, than write them• Started my blog on October 1, 2012, less than two months after Jenn’s passing• Currently have 163 posts, and 43,059 all-time views
  11. 11. Why We Write During Grief• There are several similarities between the writing process and the grief process. The creative element of the writing process may allow the bereaved to move on during the grief process because writing may become a tool for the expression of his or her thoughts and feelings, new insights, clarification, and reorganization. 1
  12. 12. Why We Write During Grief• The benefits of writing are first and foremost associated with exploratory and expressive forms of communication. 1• Writing is an aid to reflection, a way to explore and discover one’s own thoughts and feelings. 2, 3, 5, 6• Writing and forming a story involve reflection on events and contribute to self- 6-8 understanding and new insight.
  13. 13. Why We Write During Grief• According to process-oriented writing theory, language is related to thought. Writing is described as a creative process wherein the writer may experience new thoughts, increased awareness, and knowledge. 1,2,3,4• Writing down one’s own ideas opens a channel that allows a person to become acquainted with his or her own thinking potential. 2,3,6,7,9
  14. 14. Blogging vs. Journaling• Journaling requires paper and a pen, where blogging requires a computer or smart phone• When journaling, one must think quite precisely of what they want to write.• Once it is written down, it is permanent.• When blogging, have the ability to delete text, add more content, or delete entire post
  15. 15. Blogging vs. Journaling• There is a danger of losing or damaging your journal; with blogging you can backup and save your posts• More security with blogging• Have the ability to keep blog 100% private, so only you can read it or add a secure password to share with close family and friends
  16. 16. Blogging vs. Journaling• Can add images, YouTube videos, and hyperlinks into posts to enhance the content• Ability to go back and add additional thoughts or updates to already posted blog entries• Read comments from people who have found your blog, and how it has helped them; become a virtual mentor
  17. 17. Getting Started• All you need is an e-mail address• Many free blog options, as well as paid memberships• WordPress, Blogger,, Blogspot, to name a few• Ability to blog from a computer, laptop, tablet, e-mail and smart phone• Preferred CMS: WordPress
  18. 18. Creating Your Blog• On your PC or Laptop, go to• Click the orange Get started here button
  19. 19. • Create your blog address• Example:• Create your username and password• Type in your e-mail address• Select your language• Select the Premium or Free version• Click the Create Blog button• Check your e-mail inbox for your confirmation e-mail
  20. 20. Logging Into Your Blog• Can access your blog from anywhere; not specific to your own computer• Open your browser, and go to your site:• At the end of your URL, add:
  21. 21. Logging Into Your Blog• Type in your email address or username• Type in your password• It is case sensitive!• If you forget your password, click the Lost Your password? link and it will be reset for you• Only click Remember Me from your home computer
  22. 22. Selecting Your Theme• Your theme is the design to your new blog• Choose a theme that fits your style• Can always change it• Some themes are free, while others are Premium and require a purchase• Click Activate for the theme you want
  23. 23. The Dashboard• Overview of your entire blog• Left sidebar allows you to configure settings for your blog• Quickly access areas where you create posts, pages, manage comments, check stats and change your blog’s appearance
  24. 24. The Dashboard
  25. 25. Customizing Your Blog• To set your blog’s title go to Settings > General and enter your new Site Title• Can also set your Tagline, Time Zone, and date and time formats• Always click the blue Save Changes button
  26. 26. Post vs. Page• A Post is comprised of the day-to-day thoughts that make up a blog; allows for comments and sharing• Example: Surviving Our First Holiday Season• A Page is static content where you supply information to your readers• Example: About Me• Both support images, links and videos
  27. 27. Post vs. Page• Suggest first creating only a few pages• Will act as a preface to your blog, and outline your individual experience• After, create posts as often as you like/need to fill your blog• No set schedule; blog when you want
  28. 28. Adding a New Post or Page• On the left sidebar, click on Posts or Pages• When you hover over the tab, select Add New• With WordPress, there are multiple ways to create a new post or page• Find which way works best for you
  29. 29. Adding a New Post or Page• If you can send an e-mail, you can create a page and a post• Ability to use the Visual setting, or HTML code (depending on your preference)• Can start a blog post, save your work, and continue at a later time• Always have the ability to edit your post, even if you published it to your blog
  30. 30. Add New Post or Page• Add your post’s title• Add the content of your blog post• Click Preview to see what your post would look like, without publishing it• When you are ready to share your post with the world, click the blue Publish button
  31. 31. New Post Via E-mail• Can send an e-mail to your blog, which will create a new post and update your blog• Helpful for situations where you can’t access your blog, but can still send an e-mail• From the Dashboard, click on My Blogs
  32. 32. New Post Via E-mail• Under Post by Email click on the Enable button
  33. 33. New Post Via E-mail• Now, under Post by Email will be a random email address• Take note of this email address• Send an email to that address, and it will update your blog• The e-mail subject will become the subject of your post
  34. 34. Categories and Tags• Used for your posts• Way to organize your posts for manageability• Example: If you were blogging about your first holiday season, your Category may be “Family Milestones” and the Tags could be: holiday, Christmas, Chanukah, family dinner, spirit
  35. 35. Adding Images• I always try to add an image into my posts• Easy to add, and great way to enrich the blog• Helpful when sharing posts on Facebook; image will appear in friends’ timelines.• Can add images into both posts and pages
  36. 36. Adding Images• Above the toolbar, click on the camera and music note icon to the right of Upload/Insert• When you hover over it, it will say Add Media• Browse your local computer for the image you want to add• Allowed file types: jpg, jpeg, png, gif, pdf, doc, ppt, odt, pptx, docx, pps, ppsx, xls, xlsx.
  37. 37. Adding Images• After your image finishes uploading, you can edit the image information as much or as little as you like• Give your image a title, alternative text, caption and description• Pick your alignment, and select the perfect size• Make sure you click Insert Into Post
  38. 38. Editing an Image• After you have added your image to your page or post, you have the ability to edit or delete it• While editing your post, click on the image you added• Two small thumbnail images will appear in the top right corner of the image
  39. 39. Editing an Image• Click on left thumbnail to edit the image• Click on the right thumbnail to delete the image• When you click to edit the image, a pop up window will appear• Can scale the image bigger or smaller, change alignment, title, and edit the image’s link• When you are satisfied with your changes, click the Update button
  40. 40. Editing an Image
  41. 41. Managing Comments• Can accept comments on pages and posts, but traditionally used just on posts• Can moderate comments before they are shared on your site• Click Comments on the left sidebar of your dashboard
  42. 42. Managing Comments• When you approve a comment, it will appear at the bottom of your blog for others to read• Can reply to comments• Ability to trash comments, or mark as spam• Can edit comments to remove private or personal information you don’t want to share
  43. 43. Publicizing Your Blog Posts• Share your blog with friends and family• Can automatically publish your new blog posts to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr, and Yahoo• On the left sidebar, go to Settings > Sharing• Under each social media outlet, click the green Connect to link
  44. 44. Publicizing Your Blog Posts• When you publicize, have the option to add your own introduction before posting• With Facebook, when you share your post and use an image, it will be featured in your update• Increase chances people will click link, versus no image and just text
  45. 45. What To Blog About• Anything you want; no right or wrong answer• Be cautious of using overly personal information• Write what you feel; not what you think people want to read
  46. 46. What To Blog About• A particularly difficult day and what may have caused it• Milestones in your life (birthdays, weddings) and how you handled them• Memories that popped into your head• Grief surveys• Lost dreams• A letter to your loved one
  47. 47. Site Stats• Keep track of how many people view your blog• See where visitors are coming from• View what search terms people use to find your blog• Determine how most people find you• On the left sidebar, click on Site Stats
  48. 48. What’s Next?• August 17th will be two years since Jenn’s passing• Would enjoy writing a book that shares my personal grief story from the point of view of a sibling• Share my journey in hopes that readers identifying with me, and apply feelings and emotions to their own journey
  49. 49. Learn More My WordPress
  50. 50. Keep In Touch
  51. 51. References1. Furnes, Bodil, and Elin Dysvik. "A Systematic Writing Program as a Tool in the Grief Process: Part 1." Patient Prefer Adherence 2012 (2012):425-31. National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 06 Dec. 2010. Web. 19 June 2012.<>.2. Elbow P. Writing without Teachers. New York: Oxford University Press; 1973.3. Elbow P. Writing with Power Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1981.4. Vygotsky L. Tænkning og Sprog II. København: H: Reizel; 19825. Baikie KA, Wilhelm K. Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Adv Psychiatr Treat. 2005;11:338–346.6. Furnes B. Å skrive sorgen – bearbeidelse av sorg. Prosessorientert skriving i møte med en fenomenologisk språkforståelse. En hermeneutiskfenomenologisk studie av skriving som sorgbearbeidelse hos etterlatte. 2008. Doctoral thesis. University of Bergen, Norway.7. Pennebaker JW. Telling stories: the health benefits of narrative. Lit Med. 2000;19:3–11.8. Smyth J, True N, Souto J. Effects of writing about traumatic experiences: the necessity for narrative structuring. J Soc ClinPsychol. 2001;20:161–1729. Stensland P. Approaching the Locked Dialogues of the Body – Communicating Symptoms through Illness Diaries. 2003. Doctoral thesis.Division for General Practice, Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care. University of Bergen, Norway.