There were other things I was planning to post today, but something has really gotten under my skin.
Last night, a woman named Sherrie lost her 2 year old son in a drowning accident. After this horrible thing happened, she used her twitter account (@Military_Mom) to post the following: "Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool." Five hours later, she posted a few pictures of her son, and a thank you to the people who had offered support and prayers to her.
Since then, she has been what I can only call attacked. Several people on twitter decided that they needed proof that the child had died, and that they needed to start posting messages asking if anyone had confirmed it, bringing up the balloon boy hoax, warning people not to give her any money. I should say here that as far as I can see, Sherrie herself has asked for nothing but prayers for her little boy.
But that's not the worst of it. When I read the worst of it, it made me so mad I wanted to vomit. Multiple people accused Sherrie of CAUSING HER LITTLE BOYS DEATH. They said she must have been too busy twittering and posting pictures of her pets to pay attention to her little boy. That it was surely her fault he drowned because she was not paying attention.
Let's break this down a little bit... When I see that first tweet asking for prayers? I picture a woman, standing by her pool. Maybe she got distracted by an animal moving. Maybe she blinked. Maybe she looked away for ONE SECOND. Her son fell in the pool. It was an accident. Now, paramedics are there, trying to save her son. She is forced to stand back and there is nothing she can do. She does not have any friends with her there, she is alone. She is scared. So, she reaches out to the one place she can - her online community. It takes less than 30 seconds for her to ask for prayers as the EMTs try to revive her toddler in in front of her.
Just think about that for a minute. About watching your child die in front of you. About the fact that you could not prevent the accident. About how you will ALWAYS feel guilty/responsible about it no matter how many people may tell you it wasn't your fault.
It. Is. Heartbreaking.
Now, I fully admit that I don't know this woman. I am sure there are some people out there who would make things like this up. However, if they were, wouldn't they post about it on their blog? Wouldn't they post MORE tweets asking for things? For attention? My point here is, why not give people the benefit of the doubt?
It is easy to live your life and walk this world thinking the worst of everybody. You can believe that the internet is full of liars, that there is a child molester on every corner, that your child is inches from being abducted every minute. You can believe that people will try to swindle you at every opportunity they get, that people want to steal your money and your possessions, and that you are not safe walking to your car at night. You can. You can live in fear and paranoia if that's what you want.
But WHY? What is the point of living life feeling this way? I know that bad things happen. But I make a conscious choice every day to try and think positively. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I choose to believe that the majority of people are good. I have seen amazing things in my life and in my online life. I have seen hundreds of people support parents who have lost their child, by offering prayers and well wishes and peaceful thoughts. I have seen people in my community support one another. I have seen people provide for others who are having a hard time financially.
What really gets to me is that it was completely unneccesary for anyone to attack Sherrie. If you don't know someone, sure they could be lying. But WHY say it out loud? Whenever I am faced with this kind of situation, I always go first to "what if?" What if it is true? If it's not, what do I lose by offering this woman prayers and sending whatever good vibes I can her way? NOTHING. What do we have to lose by offering people compassion? If what they are saying IS true, perhaps you have given them a fraction of a second of comfort. If it's not... you have not lost anything.
In this particular case, I know that some people will not understand how she could be online. But honestly? What are you SUPPOSED to do if your child dies? If my son died I would be absolutely out of my mind. I would be in shock, and I wouldn't know what to do. I would probably reach out to my friend online too, because whether other people understand it or not, they ARE friends, and they are a part of my life. Who's to say which way of grieving is okay?
I guess the bottom line, to me, is why can't we all have a little faith, have a little compassion? Why can't we treat each other nicely, and as we'd want to be treated? If you don't have anything nice or helpful to say, then maybe you should just not say it. No one loses anything that way. You don't hurt anyone who may be having a really bad day. I know it's a cliche, but I really do think that we could all use a little more love in this world.