As most of you know, our Wednesday is Friends Day features guest bloggers who have used their blogs for various purposes. Today, we welcome award-winning author and speaker Darlene Franklin. Darlene has six books and novellas in print (with six more on the way) as well as numerous nonfiction articles. Check out her blog at www.darlenefranklinwrites.blogspot.com.
I came up with my tagline, “writing at the crossroads of love and grace,” because God’s love and grace had seen me through divorce, abuse, and my daughter’s mental illness. I didn’t know the hardest test was yet to come — my daughter Jolene’s suicide, now over a year and a half ago. Those first few days, I stumbled through the motions, numb to all feeling. I left a message on my phone, asking people not to call at night because I couldn’t handle answering the same questions over and over again. How did it happen? Was she depressed?
Instead of repeating the same news over and over … or not telling people anything at all … I asked Mary Conneally to help me set up a blog for the specific purpose of writing about my experiences, my feelings, memories, insights. I was driven to write every day. The blog became my public journal, a place people could read and know how I was doing and even, often, help.
After the first anniversary of Jolene’s death, I chose to move on from writing almost exclusively about her. It was time; by and large, the wound had scarred over and healed. I continue to blog about every day life … grandmother, daughter, writer, Christian … but the grief is past.
My blog hasn’t been a success in terms of numbers, but in terms of the connections made and impact on readers’ lives … it’s been priceless.
Among the resources I found, I mentioned a terrific book called Meditations for Survivors of Suicide by Joni Woelfel. Wasn’t I surprised, and touched, when she replied to my blog after I mentioned her book. God brought peers alongside, others suffering with sudden disability, miscarriage, divorce, the death of a parent or spouse. Those writers shared their heartache with me and my readers and together we grew closer.
I also treasured the impact of my blog on my co-workers. As they kept up with my struggles, they read it understood my faith — and my God — in a way I couldn’t express freely at work. My agonizing journey showed them God’s care and faithfulness in a way nothing had before.
The responses that meant the most to me were the people contemplating suicide. One day a young woman wrote, “I am my parents’ Jolene.” She shared how she had contemplated suicide, thinking it would be easier for everyone … then she read my blog and realized how much that action would hurt her parents. Others responded the same way, if not so eloquently.
If I touched no one else, that one victory is worth every word.