We're thrilled to introduce Eliza of Cotton Socks as Glow's new discussion board moderator. The boards provide a warm welcome and community that's got its own momentum, but we thought it was time to have a little help to consistently set that tone, to faciliate and answer any questions, and to make sure that everyone feels comfortable contributing or just reading in whatever way helps.

If you have any suggestions or feedback on the community section of Glow in the Woods (the general board or the ttc/pregnancy/birth after loss board), please contact us here. We'd love to hear your thoughts.

In the past couple of years, the boards have thrived. We're so grateful for how beautifully you all hear one another and share your stories.

~ Kate 

I was bright-eyed and eager; a new ring sparkled on my left hand and I was desperate to discuss all-important topics like veil length and fresh flowers versus silks. Unfortunately, very few people around me had patience enough to match my enthusiasm for planning a wedding that was still two years in the future. Wanting to dive into this exciting new venture, and I must admit, terribly bored at work, I delved into the internet to begin researching.

And I discovered message boards for the first time. Intimidated at first, I quickly found a niche where I was comfortable, began to make friends and talked about centerpieces and choosing readings to my heart's content. That morphed into a private board of like-minded women, and forays into other arenas, like a sports board or two. It was natural to me to turn back to the world of message boards when I was again faced with something I wanted badly to discuss and had no audience for – trying to conceive and the subsequent three pregnancies were all set to a background of a popular board where it was common to discuss intimate details of your bodily functions, and where looking at something another woman peed on was exciting. All of my pregnancy with Gabriel was shared in detail with strangers that I began to grow close to through daily, unreserved contact.

Had you asked me prior to my foray into boards whether I believed people could really find friends or form real relationships of any kind on the internet, I would have scoffed. But the women I met while planning my wedding remain, to this day, nearly eight years later, among my closest friends. One of those women I met on that message board was a bridesmaid in my wedding, another flew from Canada to Texas to perform the ceremony (and several others drove and flew to attend it). They were the people who held me and supported me – albeit virtually – when Gabriel died. They are the ones who we called from the hospital at the same time we called our families. They are the ones who heard me struggling and arranged a cleaning service for my house. They are the ones who directed me gently to come here, when I was freshly grieving and desperate to be heard by someone who might understand. I came to Glow, lonely, shattered, heart torn open, needing badly to hear that I was allowed to grieve. And here I found comfort, and sustenance in the form of words and understanding that only those who have lived it can offer. Like many others, I devoured everything, back through all the archives.

photo by corie howell

Of course, I also posted on the discussion board. In fact, the discussion board was the first place I told our story in all the horrifying detail. Once I began, the words poured out of me and were received. This was my safe place to talk, where I could take off the veneer of 'coping' and 'healing' and 'moving on' and simply be whatever I was that day - happy, sad, scared, angry or neutral.  This was the place I could rest and fully feel every emotion without gauging how it affected others; everyone understood and nodded with me.  After a time, I began to offer words of comfort and a presence to others who were joining the ranks, just as lost and bewildered and hurt as I was. It was such a relief, the constant (if sad) reassurance I was not crazy or alone. I was, and am, just grieving.

Message boards are where I feel most at home; perhaps because that is how I started on the internet back in the day. Blogs have often felt like more of a one way enterprise; perhaps because that is how I tend to view mine. So the vibrancy and the back-and-forth and the immediacy and instant gratification of a discussion board is most appealing to me and where I find my stride in this strange new world. A bit of the familiar of the old life, brought back into being.

And these boards here at Glow are the most comfortable for me. It is rare to find such an open public community that freely offers support, whether you have just stopped by anonymously to say 'Today's not good' or whether you post everyday. It is even more rare to find a place that so openly welcomes and encourages all expressions of grief and embraces the uglier aspects with gentleness and understanding.

You make the community what it is by sharing your joys and sorrows, your rants and remembrances, your inspirations, and comforts, and of course, your children. And many of you just sit quietly, and that's okay too. We understand, having gone through what we all have, the ebbs and flows. Either way, we are all in this together.

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Did you frequent discussion boards through your pregnancy? Did your relationship with an online circle change when your baby died, or did it continue to support you? How do discussion boards compare and contrast to your experiences of blogging, friendship, and real-life conversation about loss?