In the case of Friend Grief, there are many ways to measure the past year. A year ago today, in the midst of a 21" snowstorm here in Chicago, this blog went live.
I'd returned from my first Writers Digest Conference a week earlier. I knew before then that I needed a blog, but I was stalled on the details. Actually, I was obsessed with the details. So I asked Dan Blank a question during his session: how do I do this? Word Press or Blogger? Template or Custom? He said what my panicky ears needed to hear: just do it. Start writing and worry about the other stuff later. So I did.
When I started this - indeed, for the first few months - I was determined to keep myself out of it: "just the facts, ma'am". I was introducing the idea that grieving a friend is different. I was teaching. I was going to sound professional. I was not going to talk about me. There was no bolt of lightning, but before long I realized I could do both: inform and share at the same time.
It felt uncomfortable at first; still does, sometimes. But once the article on my experience in the AIDS community appeared in Windy City Times (Forming Community), I couldn't go back.
The popularity of some topics has surprised me. The roll at the bottom of this screen shows a changing list of the five most popular posts: AIDS, Winnie the Pooh, anything Beatles-related, and the most surprising of all - friend grief and anger - show up frequently.
None of this happened in a vacuum, or on my own. The topics come easily - too easily, sometimes. But there are people I want to thank (besides Delle: she's always at the top of the list and she knows it).
I want to thank Dr. Kenneth Doka at the College of New Rochelle, who coined the phrase "disenfranchised grief". His generosity and support are deeply appreciated, both with the blog and my book.
I thank my writing buddies who have encouraged me, offered suggestions, inspired me and made me laugh this past year. They keep me honest - Dan, George, Kathy, Porter, Karl, Jeanne, Gaby, Kristie and more who I didn't know a year ago, but who now feel like life-long friends.
More importantly, though, I thank those of you who are new to Friend Grief and to those who return on a regular basis. This site is for you, and anyone who has grieved the death of a friend. Anyone who has been shocked by the lack of empathy for your loss. Anyone who has used that experience as the inspiration for major change in their own lives.
There are lots of us out there, and this is a place where we can gather: to learn, to share, to laugh, to cry. To remember some of the most important people in our lives.
And don't forget: you can also follow me on Twitter, Google+ and on Facebook. Those of you who subscribe/follow/like will be getting a little surprise later in the spring.
Again, many thanks for sharing this journey with me. It's been an amazing year, and there's more to come.
"Let's celebrate remember a year in the life of friends." ("Seasons of Love")
Spread the word.
And stay tuned.