Caring and sharing

Karen Peatt
Summary 
CaringBridge offers free websites. The websites are for people who have medical problems. The websites are used to help share information. Visitors can get updates on how people are feeling. They can also leave messages of love and support. Half a million people use CaringBridge websites every day. I have a site. I get support from family and friends. It has also been great to find other people facing similar issues to me. When creating a new site it is important to choose a simple name. It is also important to update it as much as possible.
Posted by: 
Karen Peatt on 09/06/2011
A close up of a pair of hands typing on a black computer keyboard in front of a PC monitor
A close up of a pair of hands typing on a black computer keyboard in front of a PC monitor

A personal and private space to communicate and show support

CaringBridge offers free websites to people facing or recovering from a serious medical condition. The websites offer a personal and private space to communicate and show support. They can save people time and emotional energy when health matters most.

The websites are easy to create and use. Authors add health updates and photos to share their story. Visitors can read the updates and leave messages of love, hope, and compassion in an online guestbook. Each day half a million people use CaringBridge websites. They can be password-protected for privacy.

CaringBridge was started in 1997 by Sona Mehring. Sona got the idea after a friend gave birth to a premature baby. She created a website to post medical and status updates. She also wanted to provide a way for friends and family members to leave messages of support.

Who uses CaringBridge?

Anyone who is facing a significant health challenge can have a CaringBridge site. I follow the journey of a lot of people who maintain sites. Some people write their own. Other people maintain a site for a loved one.

The people I follow face many different kinds of health issues, including cancer, strokes and accidents. I have also known of people using CaringBridge when they are dealing with the daily challenges of mental illness.

Why use CaringBridge?

The main reason I use my CaringBridge site is so that I have support from family and friends. They can stay updated on how I am feeling. They can also get updates on what is going on in my world without me having to make a lot of phone calls. It can be tiring repeating the same information many times. People can choose to receive updates via email.

It has also been great to connect with lots of people who face similar issues to me. I have even found people who have vasculitis and cerebral palsy like me.

For some people the journal and guestbook messages might be their only link to the outside world for extended periods. Other people use CaringBridge as a personal journal during their health challenge.

The impact

Diane Siegel Cummings wishes CaringBridge was around when her 32 year old daughter was younger. Diane says CaringBridge has helped the family deal with her daughter's multiple health issues.

Carol Avery also says CaringBridge has been invaluable. She says it has provided a fantastic connection to people battling illness. Carol says she gains solace from supporting others.

Tips and suggestions

I have some tips and suggestions for those creating a new CaringBridge site. Your CaringBridge website name is particularly important. It cannot be changed afterwards. Make the name something that is easy to remember and spell. Most people use their name. This makes it easy for loved ones to find the website. It means people will be more likely to use it and offer their support.

Updating your CaringBridge journal as often as possible is also important. It is your record of good days and bad. It is also your way of connecting to family and friends. They will feel like they are more connected to you the more that you update. Also remember to try to keep it as positive as possible. Nobody likes to read nothing but doom and gloom all the time. Try and find one positive thing in each day.

I hope that you are able to get support through CaringBridge and give comfort to others. It does not matter what challenges you are facing. The most important thing is to realise you are never alone.

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