Special Report: Grieving Through Facebook


CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — As darkness falls in Clifton Park Regina Stewart finds herself in a familiar place, at her laptop, pouring what's left of her broken heart onto the blank screen. She's telling the world about a boy named Chris, her son and best friend.

Most parents shut down when they lose a child, but Regina opened up, about everything. Writing a personal, and at times, painful blog. But why?

“I felt panicked,” Stewart says, “I thought I was going to forget him and people would forget him and he was going to evaporate and I think that it was pure panic that set me to the computer.”

As Regna wrote about his life and her loss something unexpected happened, “People started responding.” Perfect strangers with imperfect lives started sharing their own heartache and offering something that was in short supply; hope.

As wonderful as this sounds clinical psychologist Dr. Rudy Nydegger says you have to be careful because once you share your personal pain on a public page, you may not always like the response you get.

“For example, you might get people who are critical or people who won't just let you vent. Instead you'll people telling you how you should grieve. They might say that you've had enough time to get over this loss and it's time to get on with your life. They may be well intentioned but their words can be very hurtful.”

Luckily for Regina Stewart, people weren't cruel, in fact many thanked her for writing the blog. Jen Burleigh of Rotterdam has never met Regina but read her blog every single day.

“We've all suffered losses, I've lost a lot of people and Regina's words, they inspired me. She really helped me. You could say she's the nicest person I've never met.”

Back in her home Regina has a daily ritual. One of them is going up to her late son Chris's room and talking to his ashes which sit solemnly on his dresser. Everything else in the room is exactly as he left it the day she lost him. She says it is getting easier to deal with her grief but there are still some hard days.

“Easter was very tough, seeing his basket and knowing he's no longer here.”

When Chris first died, Regina wrote almost every day, now she writes much less. She says it's time to get outside and start doing things again. Her passion is running. She says there is no real way to get past the grief but knowing her words have inspired people and helped her, well that makes life a little easier.

Regina's blog can be found at: http://chrisstewart69.blogspot.com/

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