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20 Years, 675,000 Stories, One You: Share Your Story

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The First CaringBridge Website

Twenty years ago this June 7, our founder, Sona Mehring, coded a website in her home office that changed the way the world communicates during a health crisis.

JoAnn and Darrin showing pictures of their daughter Brighid

JoAnn and Darrin showing pictures of their daughter Brighid

She had been asked by dear friends in the midst of a life-threatening pregnancy “to let everyone know what was going on.” After a few emotionally exhausting phone calls, Sona, a software engineer, knew there had to be a better way.

Sona launched a website to rally support around her friends on the day their daughter, Brighid, was born premature.

While Baby Brighid lived only 9 days, her website sparked a movement that has grown into more than 675,000 CaringBridge websites that have had 2.1 billion visits since the day Baby Brighid’s website was created.

You Are CaringBridge

While 675,000 stories might be difficult to comprehend, the real number is “one,” because it represents YOU. CaringBridge is the sum of each caregiver, each patient, each family member, each individual person, and we want to hear from YOU.

As CaringBridge begins its third decade of making health journeys easier, we invite you to share your story. Tell us why you needed a CaringBridge site. What kinds of things did your family and friends do to lift you up when you needed it most? How have you found healing … even if a cure has not been part of your outcome?

You may have used CaringBridge, at first, to streamline communication but maybe sharing your story helped you make sense of things, at a time when very little made sense.

What’s Your Story

We hear this so often: “I did not start a website with the intention of healing. But that is what happened.” Tell us what kept you going. Was it journaling? The kids? Gardening? Prayer? Walks along the water? There is no right or wrong answer. It’s your story. It’s unique.

Your stories are what bring hope to others who may be going through the same thing. If you were the patient writing about your journey on CaringBridge or one of many family members or close friends keeping people connected to the patient, this invitation comes directly to you.

Whether you were among the first CaringBridge users, back when Sona was personally coding websites in her home, or you started your website five minutes ago, we would love to hear from you.

Or if this makes you think about a family member or friend whose story you followed, and you think they might be interested in sharing their story with us, please send them this article. We want to hear from as many people as possible.

How to Share Your Story

Share your story with us by filling out our Share Your Story Form. In honor of our 20th year, we plan to feature a number of stories on CaringBridge.org from among those that are submitted to us through April 30, 2017.

May you forever benefit from the love, hope and compassion that comes from being connected to your family and friends when it matters most.

Comments (26)

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Elisa B. Roberts Apr 28, 2017 1:15pm
I didn’t know so many people cared. The awareness of the love around me helped me to heal. It’s that simple. I’m so fortunate. I didn't know how fortunate I was. Facing death makes you appreciate life. When I began this site (originally to update far flung friends and family regarding a surgery - which didn't happen as expected) I knew the odds of my survival ranged from 1 to 2%. It's been 3 years now and I'm still posting! My life has forever changed for the better. I'm so deeply grateful to Caring Bridge and everyone who posted on Caring Bridge. Thank you.
Alok singh Apr 25, 2017 2:40pm
Very nice
Jeanie Forsberg Apr 12, 2017 10:12am
I started the CaringBridge website on behalf of my husband, John, when he was diagnosed with Esophageal cancer in August 2009 to keep family and friends far and near updated on his journey. I have been told numerous times that my journal entries were greatly appreciated and very inspiring. I lost my husband to the dreaded disease in July 2010. I have just recently printed "Our Book" for our children to have a copy. They treasure the journal entries of their father's journey. This is a wonderful tool to keep family and friends updated on whatever health journey you or a family member are on. Thank you so much for creating this tool.
    Beth Betcher Apr 12, 2017 5:00pm
    Thank you for sharing your story here, Jeanie, and sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. We invite you to take a few minutes and also share your story on our website—your stories are what bring hope to others who may be going through the same thing. Submit your story through our form here: Share Your Story Form. Thanks again! - Beth, CaringBridge
Judith McCleary Apr 11, 2017 3:52pm
To receive a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer was devastating and life changing. To have our friends suggest communication through Caring Bridge was heart-warming and gave us love and hope. We are blessed to have had friends over our 75+ years who are caring, wonderful and supportive. We have kept up with each other through thick and thin over the years. My husband, Clark, and family welcomed the web site as updates and notices went out from them as I went through Whipple surgery and a very long recovery. Clark’s communication was made 100% easier as he devoted his time to my healing. Comments, tributes, emails contributed to my well being and the love surrounding me was unbelievable! I have no doubt the prayers and thoughts of our many friends and family members helped me every step of the way and I am thrilled that nearly 3 years later, with no chemo or radiation, I have been doing quite well. I especially like that friends have the option of reading the entries or not, as they wish. It is easy to use. I am writing the entries these past months and find it is catharsis to release my thoughts and fears and so doing, have inspired others, through positive notes, to continue on. Every day is a treasured gift and I am most thankful, not only for my life, but for the hugs of Caring Bridge. Thank you for this incredible means of keeping in touch.
Judith McCleary Apr 11, 2017 3:44pm
To receive a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer was devastating and life changing. To have our friends suggest communication through Caring Bridge was heart-warming and gave us love and hope. We are blessed to have had friends over our 75+ years who are caring, wonderful and supportive. We have kept up with each other through thick and thin over the years. My husband, Clark, and our family welcomed the web site as updates and notices went out from them as I went through Whipple surgery and a very long recovery. Clark’s communication was made 100% easier as he devoted his time to my healing. Comments, tributes, emails contributed to my well being and the love surrounding me was unbelievable! I have no doubt the prayers and thoughts of our many friends and family members helped me every step of the way and I am thrilled that nearly 3 years later, with no chemo or radiation, I have been doing quite well. I especially like that friends have the option of reading the entries or not, as they wish. It is easy to use. I have taken over the entries and find it is carthartic to me to write and reach out to inspire others in their struggles. Every day is a treasured gift and I am most thankful, not only for my life, but for the hugs of Caring Bridge. Thank you for this incredible means of keeping in touch, not only through difficult times, but as I continue to heal.
    Beth Betcher Apr 12, 2017 5:05pm
    We are so glad to hear that you are doing well today Judith! We invite you to share your story on our website, too. Submit your story here: Share Your Story Form. Thanks for sharing your story with us! - Beth, CaringBridge
Christie Berner Apr 10, 2017 7:58pm
At age 70, I never expected to undergo another open heart surgery, let alone travel over 1000 miles to a hospital far from home. After a career which took me coast to coast I had friends in multiple cities and family scattered across the country. I knew I would not be able to communicate with everyone, and did not want to burden my sister with responsibility for updating multiple people. I had previously appreciated Caring Bridge websites other friends had started, so I started my own. I am now 2 months post-op, and still send updates weekly. My sister filled in as author when I couldn't manage the task but was not burdened with multiple calls and texts. But, an even bigger benefit has been the therapeutic value for me. I have never done any journaling, but found the benefit of thinking about how I was handling minor set-backs and the long recovery journey was greatly enhanced when I shared my feelings with others. Not to mention the value of all the uplifting comments I received after every post. It became a challenging routine to think of catchy titles and try to keep my posts brief but informative. I will continue updating people for a few more months as I begin cardiac rehab, and I know I will miss this method of communication with all my friends when my recovery is complete. I am extremely grateful to Caring Bridge for providing this website.
    Beth Betcher Apr 12, 2017 5:08pm
    We're so glad to hear this, Christie. Please consider sharing your story on our website, too! You can submit your story here: Share Your Story Form. All the best! - Beth, CaringBridge
Kathleen Wroblewski Apr 10, 2017 3:07pm
For now, just a question. I have not checked recently, why don you have a choice of Esophageal cancer on the list, I don't recall changing my my cancer to brain cancer, which I am being treated for since Sept 2016.
    Beth Betcher Apr 12, 2017 5:24pm
    That is a really good question Kathleen! Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I will talk with our team about getting Esophageal Cancer added to the list of conditions. Please consider sharing your story with us by filling out our form here: Share Your Story Form. - Beth, CaringBridge
H. Arlene branz Apr 08, 2017 10:41am
My Caring Bridge site was a wonderful way to communicate with everyone. It was cathartic for me to recount what I was encountering. When I read comments and saw how many people were following my journey, it was so uplifting. Also, it freed my husband from trying to keep everyone up to date. Truly a god send!!!
    Beth Betcher Apr 12, 2017 5:39pm
    Glad to hear that CaringBridge was a cathartic resource for you during a hard time. Please consider sharing your story through our form here: Share Your Story Form. All the best - Beth, CaringBridge
Maureen Sullivan Apr 07, 2017 4:44pm
It all started when a co-worker of my sisters created our CaringBridge site upon hearing our 20 year old daughter had suffered a massive stroke caused by a brain hemmoraghe a few days after ChristmasMy sister and co-workers were in Texas and us in California. Initially the site started with messages of prayers, encouragement and hope. Word spread quickly and soon we were being bombarded with inquiries from family, friends, co-workers and neighbors wanting to know how they could help . I took to the site as a way to keep people informed and as an attempt reduce phone/txt/ messages that we simply could not answer. On January 2, 2012, our daughter, clinging by a thread to life had surgery to save her life. What followed continues to this day to take my breath away. Individuals near and far began posting messages of hope. Prayer groups were formed, people gathered to determine ways they could help our family and a community came together as one to walk beside us in what were some very dark days. I would post sometimes twice a day to our site trying to keep everyone informed. Over time, the posts became my therapy. A way not to feel alone. Our daughter lived! Her life and recovery were nothing short of a miracle. I would read her messages daily that people had posted and it was a time in what were long, excrutiating, hard days where she could feel she was not alone. She was in the hospital and acute rehab for over 45 days, her recovery journey continued long after and CaringBridge was our lifeline. I can't imagine facing what my family endured and not having this medium. It now serves as a chronicle of this time in my daughter's life, all she went through, how hard she fought to reclaim her life. Today, my daughter Jillian is a ray of light, a constant reminder for all that with faith and great love, miracles can happen.
    Beth Betcher Apr 12, 2017 5:44pm
    What a wonderful miracle, Maureen! Thank you for sharing your story here. We invite you to take a few minutes and also share your story on our website here: Share Your Story Form. Your story can bring hope to others who may be going through the same thing. Thanks again! - Beth, CaringBridge
CAROL AYCOTH Apr 07, 2017 2:17pm
I started a Caring bridge page after my grandson Noah was born. He was a full term baby but after a couple of days we realized something was wrong. He spent a month at Duke University Medical Center where he suffered massive seizures and we were told that his brain had not fully developed and he had weeks to live. One of the social workers suggested caring bridge as a way to communicate with our family and friends spread out around the country. I was able to give daily updates in the beginning. When Noah came home from the hospital, they went to weekly updates. It was a central place where I could keep people informed. Noah wound up surprising everyone and lived to 4 days short of his 2nd birthday. After his death, my son was able to go caring bridge and have a wonderful diary and tribute to Noahs life. I am so thankful to caring bridge to provide a safe environment for families to keep connected on status of family members. I continue to support this wonderful organization.
    Beth Betcher Apr 12, 2017 7:16pm
    Thank you for telling us about your grandson, Carol. If your family is interested in sharing Noah's story, we would be honored to hear it. His story can be submitted through our form here: Share Your Story Form. Best to you and your family. - Beth, CaringBridge
Lori Crabb Apr 07, 2017 10:31am
Dylan Crabb had a story to tell worth reading. The horror of losing him is endless , but the joy of having him is greater
Lori Crabb Apr 07, 2017 10:29am
I love sharing my sons story . Dylan Crabb was worth reading, he had a story to tell. The horror of losing him still remains. But the joy of having him is greater
    Beth Betcher Apr 12, 2017 5:32pm
    I can't imagine the horror of losing a child, Lori. We would be honored if you shared his story through our form here: Share Your Story Form. Thank you - Beth, CaringBridge
Jeanne Marsh Apr 07, 2017 9:14am
My brother Jeff went into the hospital August 22, 2016, with severe stomach pains. After numerous tests and a transfer to another hospital for surgery, it was found he had a blood clot in his intestinal track. He was in the hospital for nearly four months, most of the time in Intensive Care. Jeff was the youngest of our family of eight siblings; keeping everyone in the family, friends, co-workers, etc., informed on his condition would not have been possible without this Caring Bridge site. Jeff lost his battle December 8, 2016, but our family is eternally grateful for this site. As the author of all the journal entries, it helped me deal with the whole situation and with sharing the sad news of his passing. I still go back through all the comments and well wishes from everyone who followed his long battle, and it helps ease the pain. Thank you for this site.
    Beth Betcher Apr 12, 2017 7:21pm
    I am truly sorry to hear of your brothers passing, Jeanne. I am glad that family, friends and co-workers were able to lift you up during this difficult time. We would be honored if you decided to share Jeff's story through our website here: Share Your Story Form. My thoughts are with you and your family. - Beth, CaringBridge
Jeannine Buechner Apr 07, 2017 7:00am
I started a CaringBridge site back in 2011 when my husband Dick was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia at Rochester Methodist Hospital. He was in and out of the Hospital and we were also at Hope Lodge in Rochester. It was my way of informing our friends and relatives of his daily progress without having to call them all. I kept it up during his treatments, and am happy to report he no longer has to go to Rochester for appointments with his Leukemia Doctor, and just has blood check-ups at our local hospital, and they send the results to Rochester.
    Beth Betcher Apr 12, 2017 7:26pm
    Thank you for sharing your story Jeannine. I am so glad to hear that your husband is doing so well today. We invite you to share your story on our website, too. You can submit your story here: Share Your Story Form. Your husband's story can bring hope to others who may be going through the same thing. Thanks again! – Beth, CaringBridge
Lisa Augsburger Apr 06, 2017 9:10pm
Finding out our daughter needed a liver transplant was the most devastating day if my life. And then finding out the insurance would not cover her transplant near our home, and we needed to be over 500 miles away, I needed to have a way to stay in touch with my family and friends back home. CaringBridge was exactly what we needed!!! Knowing that everyone was updated with the details of what was happening from our family directly rather than people "playing the telephone game" (and some info gets slightly changed along the way) made communication much better. Reading everyone's responses was uplifting and we enjoyed going back and rereading them as needed. I will always be grateful for CaringBridge making this difficult time in our life a little easier.
    Beth Betcher Apr 12, 2017 7:30pm
    Thank you for sharing your sentiments about CaringBridge, Lisa. We would be honored to hear more of your daughters' story. Please consider sharing your story on our website, too! You can submit your story here: Share Your Story Form. All the best – Beth, CaringBridge