WordPress kindly saved me the trouble of analysing my blog data but there’s so much more to be said for it than just numbers alone.
My previous blogging experience was from MySpace days (!) and my job does not allow for a great deal of creative writing so writing this blog has been a good way to allow that part of me the space to write freely again.
I started blogging in October / November writing about 20 or so posts in the space of two short weeks. The bulk was written either in the evening or on the train to and from work.
I hadn’t planned on going public. It was more a way of working out and setting down my thoughts on the events and aftermath of our sons’ stillbirth. There was so much swirling in my head I needed a structured way to get it out.
With gentle encouragement from my wife I started sharing the posts with the TAMBA bereavement support group. It got me in touch with other bloggers and gave me a chance to test the blogs in a safe place before launching fully via Twitter in mid November.
Twitter then introduced me to a whole range of other writers sharing their experiences of grief and bereavement in a way that resonated with me. I also found incredibly, wonderfully supportive people willing to share their knowledge and go out of their way to help me become a bereavement befriender.
I quickly started to learn more about the blogging community and started to get involved in a number of linkys run by You Baby Me Mummy, The Anxious Dragon and My Random Musings. Reading other people’s blogs inspired and challenged me to write different things like happy posts rather than my usual material of relentless grinding misery punctuated with Manics videos. (Having said that even my happy post has a Manics video…)
These linkys in turn introduced me to other great bloggers and those campaigning for change in maternity care. What started as a personal blog started to gain momentum as I took part in the independent NHS Maternity Review consultation event for bereaved parents. It was one thing to read stories of bereaved parents it was another to sit in a conference room full of people with similar experiences.
I started to get braver and directly approach people with blogs I thought might be of interest. It was a genuine buzz to get my posts shared by Mumsnet and an even greater joy to get approved for the Mumsnet Bloggers Network.
The real (and very scary) moment of realising the potential reach of the blog came when Dying Matters shared one of my posts on Facebook and my page views went from single to triple figures in a day with readers from over 20 countries. I’ve used what I’ve learned in this short term to encourage them to start their own blogs.
It’s been an intense period. Blogging on grief and bereavement means going to some very dark places. It’s helped me organise my chaotic thoughts but that doesn’t come without cost. After immersing myself in the subject I’ve come to question the very foundation of my fragile acceptance and found that doubt has turned my rock into quicksand.
So what’s next for 2016? I keep writing, keep making connections and talking to people. I’ve signed up to Blogging U for Blogging 101 and Writing 201 to learn more and develop my skills. I’m still looking for available befriender training. I will also continue the remaining sessions of grief counselling.
I’ll finish with a big thank you to all the people that read, comment and share these posts. In doing so you help to raise awareness of the issues around grief, bereavement and maternity care. You help reassure me that I am not alone. By reading about our sons you help keep their memory alive and transform the mass of emotions into something that can be positive.