Blogging Your Way Through Grief


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Presentation from The Compassionate Friends 2012 National/International Conference

July 5-7, 2013 Boston, Massachusetts

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Blogging Your Way Through Grief

  1. 1. PRESENTED BY: JACQUELINE L. DeVITOThe Compassionate Friends 2013 National/International ConferenceJuly 5-7, 2013 Boston, Massachusetts
  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• Setting Up Your Blog• Logging Into Your Blog• The Dashboard• Customizing Your Blog• Post vs. Page
  5. 5. Agenda• Adding a New Post or Page• 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 Westchester, 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 foundmyself working as a Project Manager for asmall 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, atraveling baton twirling team• Won 13 medals, 2 gold, at Junior Olympics• Survived by my parents, my brother andmyself
  9. 9. My Journey Through Grief• Siblings are the forgotten mourners• Constantly told to stay strong for myfamily• Tried two different support groups, but didnot feel they worked for me• Gave journaling a try, but spent more timedecorating it then writing in it
  10. 10. My Journey Through Grief• Started my blog because I would rathertype my thoughts, than write them• Started my blog on October 1, 2010, lessthan two months after Jenn’s passing• As of two weeks ago, I have 192 Posts, and60,919 all-time views
  11. 11. Why We Write During Grief• There are several similarities between thewriting process and the grief process. Thecreative element of the writing processmay allow the bereaved to move on duringthe grief process because writing maybecome a tool for the expression of his orher thoughts and feelings, new insights,clarification, and reorganization. 1
  12. 12. Why We Write During Grief• The benefits of writing are first andforemost associated with exploratory andexpressive forms of communication. 1• Writing is an aid to reflection, a way toexplore and discover one’s own thoughtsand feelings. 2, 3, 5, 6• Writing and forming a story involvereflection on events and contribute to self-understanding and new insight. 6-8
  13. 13. Why We Write During Grief• According to process-oriented writing theory,language is related to thought. Writing isdescribed as a creative process wherein thewriter may experience new thoughts,increased awareness, and knowledge. 1,2,3,4• Writing down one’s own ideas opens achannel that allows a person to becomeacquainted with his or her own thinkingpotential. 2,3,6,7,9
  14. 14. Blogging vs. Journaling• Journaling requires paper and a pen,where blogging requires a computer orsmart phone• When journaling, one must think quiteprecisely of what they want to write• Once it is written down, it is permanent• When blogging, have the ability to deletetext, add more content, or delete entirePost
  15. 15. Blogging vs. Journaling• There is a danger of losing or damagingyour journal; with blogging you canbackup 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 securepassword to share with close family andfriends
  16. 16. Blogging vs. Journaling• Can add images, YouTube videos, andhyperlinks into Posts to enhance thecontent• Ability to go back and add additionalthoughts or updates to already posted blogentries• Read comments from people who havefound your blog, and how it has helpedthem; become a virtual mentor
  17. 17. Getting Started• All you need is an e-mail address• Many free blog options, as well as paidmemberships• WordPress, Blogger,, Blogspot, toname 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• Click the orange Get started here button
  19. 19. • Type in your e-mail address• Create your username and password• Create your blog address• Example:• Select the Basic, Premium or Businesspackage• Click the Signup button• Check your e-mail inbox for yourconfirmation e-mail
  20. 20. Set Up Your Blog• Once you click Activate Blog, you willbegin to set it up!• Set the blog title• Set your tagline• Set your language
  21. 21. Set Up Your Blog• 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 arePremium and require a purchase• Click Next Step after you’ve selected yourtheme
  22. 22. Set Up Your Blog• You can customize your theme to supportmultiple columns, change the header, andedit the style• Most themes are great right out of the box• Not sure how to customize your new blog?Skip it and click Next Step• These features are not crucial to the useand functionality of your blog
  23. 23. Set Up Your Blog• Now it is time to start blogging!• Click the blue Finish button
  24. 24. The Dashboard
  25. 25. Logging Into Your Blog• Can access your blog from anywhere; notspecific to your own computer• Open your browser, and go to your site:• At the end of your URL, add:
  26. 26. The Dashboard• Overview of your entire blog• Left sidebar allows you to configuresettings for your blog• Quickly access areas where you createPosts, Pages, manage comments, checkstats and change your blog’s appearance
  27. 27. Post vs. Page• A Post is comprised of the day-to-daythoughts that make up a blog; allows forcomments and sharing• Example: Surviving Our First HolidaySeason• A Page is static content where you supplyinformation to your readers• Example: About Me• Both support images, links and videos
  28. 28. Post vs. Page• Suggest first creating only a few Pages• Will act as a preface to your blog, andoutline your individual experience• After, create Posts as often as youlike/need to fill your blog• No set schedule; blog when you want
  29. 29. Adding a New Post or Page• On the left sidebar, click on Posts or Pages• When you hover over the tab, select AddNew• With WordPress, there are multiple waysto create a new Post or Page• Find which way works best for you
  30. 30. Adding a New Post or Page• If you can send an e-mail, you can create aPage and a Post• Ability to use the Visual setting, or HTMLcode (depending on your preference)• Can start a blog Post, save your work, andcontinue at a later time• Always have the ability to edit your Post,even if you published it to your blog
  31. 31. Add New Post or Page• Add your Post’s title• Add the content of your blog Post• Click Preview to see what your Post wouldlook like, without publishing it• When you are ready to share your Postwith the world, click the blue Publishbutton
  32. 32. Categories and Tags• Used for your Posts• Way to organize your Posts formanageability• Example: If you were blogging about yourfirst holiday season, your Category may be“Family Milestones” and the Tags couldbe: holiday, Christmas, Chanukah, familydinner, spirit
  33. 33. Adding Images• I always try to add an image into my Posts• Easy to add, and great way to enrich theblog• Helpful when sharing Posts on Facebook;image will appear in friends’ timelines• Can add images into both Posts and Pages
  34. 34. Adding Images• Above the toolbar, click on the button AddMedia• Browse your local computer for the imageyou want to add• Can also drag and drop files into InsertMedia modal• Allowed file types: jpg, jpeg, png, gif, pdf,doc, ppt, odt, pptx, docx, pps, ppsx, xls,xlsx
  35. 35. Adding Images• After your image finishes uploading, youcan edit the image information as much oras little as you like• Give your image a title, alternative text,caption and description• Pick your alignment, and select the perfectsize• Make sure you click Insert Into Post
  36. 36. Editing an Image• After you have added the image to yourPage or Post, you have the ability to edit ordelete it• While editing your Post, click on the imageyou added• Two small thumbnail images will appearin the top left corner of the image
  37. 37. Editing an Image• Click on left thumbnail to edit the image• Click on the right thumbnail to delete theimage• When you click to edit the image, a pop upwindow will appear• Can scale the image bigger or smaller, changealignment, title, and edit the image’s link• When you are satisfied with your changes,click the Update button
  38. 38. Managing Comments• Can accept comments on Pages and Posts,but traditionally used just on Posts• Can moderate comments before they areshared on your site• Click Comments on the left sidebar of yourDashboard
  39. 39. Managing Comments• When you approve a comment, it willappear at the bottom of your blog forothers to read• Can reply to comments• Ability to trash comments, or mark asspam• Can edit comments to remove private orpersonal information you don’t want toshare
  40. 40. Publicizing Your Blog Posts• Share your blog with friends and family• Can automatically publish your new blogPosts to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, andTumblr• On the left sidebar, go to Settings >Sharing• Next to each social media icon, click theAdd New link to set up the connection
  41. 41. Publicizing Your Blog Posts• When you publicize, have the option toadd your own introduction before posting• With Facebook, when you share your Postand use an image, it will be featured inyour update• Increase chances people will click link,versus no image and just text
  42. 42. What To Blog About• Anything you want; no right or wronganswer• Be cautious of using overly personalinformation• Write what you feel; not what you thinkpeople want to read
  43. 43. What To Blog About• A particularly difficult day and what mayhave 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
  44. 44. Site Stats• Keep track of how many people view yourblog• See where visitors are coming from• View what search terms people use to findyour blog• Determine how most people find you• On the left sidebar, click on Site Stats
  45. 45. What’s Next?• August 17th will be three years since Jenn’spassing• Would enjoy writing a book that shares mypersonal grief story from the point of viewof a sibling• Share my journey in hopes that readersidentifying with me, and apply feelingsand emotions to their own journey
  46. 46. Learn MoreMy Blogwww.jacquelinedevito.wordpress.comWordPresswww.wordpress.comDownload This Presentation
  47. 47. Keep In
  48. 48. 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.