Shinn column: Grieving mom finds strength online

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2008

By Susan Shinn
After Alex Gordon died, his mother, Karen, was not ready to attend a support group for bereaved parents.
Instead, she found help online. Karen, 52, has become an active member of the For Moms Only group through daily This Web site features a host of support groups. For Moms Only is for mothers who have lost children.
“Grief is very specific,” Karen says.
The Web site has only been online for about a year and a half. It opened April 2, 2007.
Alex Gordon died as the result of a motorcycle accident of May 18, 2007. He was 22 years old.
Karen found the site a month later.
Karen, who teaches biology at Catawba College and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, said she was comfortable enough with the Internet to use the site.
“It’s free and it’s not hard to use,” she says.
Members, if they choose, may write journal entries and read those of other members, offering support and encouragement on a daily basis.
Karen has met moms from all over the country and in other countries, too.
“When Alex first died, I didn’t want to go anywhere,” Karen says. “I wanted to be anonymous.”
Although she uses her first name, the site does offer anonymity, Karen says. It has more than 200 members.Karen got so comfortable with the moms she met online that she was one of 17 women who met in September for a retreat in San Diego with husband Brian.
“Somehow, I just felt compelled to go,” she says. “I thought it would be something to help me in the grieving process.”
Of the site, she says, “Moms try to deal with stuff and figure things out. Women want to talk. I wanted to talk to other women. No matter how wonderful my friends are, they can’t understand my life every day.”She adds, “If we still need to talk about it every day, we can say it to people who understand.”
Now Karen is going to be part of a spinoff group, The Journey For Moms Only. It’s for mothers, she explains, who are further along in the grief process.
“We hope we can give words of encouragement and experience and hope,” Karen says. “You really do think this would not happen to you. I don’t wish this on anybody because it’s so incredibly painful. But it will happen.”Because we are more of a computer society now, this is just another option for people.”
She says of the site, “It has been very therapeutic. It has helped me to know what’s normal.”
Through the site, Karen, says, she’s able to “mother” other mothers.
“Can I see happiness from where I was before?” she asks. “Yes. Can I see hope? Yes. Do I think about him a thousand times a day? Absolutely.”
To access For Moms Only, go to, click on “bereavement” and then “For Moms Only” on the right-hand corner of the page.