Grief Gone Viral- Tweeting a Child’s Death

      5 Comments on Grief Gone Viral- Tweeting a Child’s Death

I’ve been there. I’ve been judged. I understand the anger of @Miltary_Mom when people started to judge her when she tweeted on the drowning of her two-year old son Bryson Ross in the swimming pool of their home in Merritt Island, Fla.

Shellie Ross otherwise known as @Miltary_Mom and who blogs at tweeted the following:

5:22 p.m. – a breezy update about the fog rolling in and spooking the chickens as she worked in her chicken coop.

16 minutes later, , a 911 call was placed from her home saying that Bryson was lying at the bottom of the pool.

6:12 p.m. ““Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool.”

5 hours later, she wrote in tweeter ““remembering my million dollar baby” then posted photos of the little boy. (Some of these tweets and photos have since been removed.)

Then violent reactions errupted:

Not long after that, a firestorm erupted on Twitter, with strangers wondering what kind of mother tweets during a crisis. The debate has been going on for days around the Internet, with critics calling Ross callous (and suggesting that if she had been paying as much attention to her child as she had to her Twitter account, her son would not have come to harm) and supporters (many who know her in real life, and others who have never met her) describing her as a caring mother who reached out to her virtual community during a tragedy.

A local paper quoted Madison McGraw saying that ““If she didn’t want questions raised at such a painful time, perhaps she shouldn’t have tweeted immediately after her child died. A child is dead because (of) his mother’s infatuation with Twitter.”

In Madison’s blog, she points out that “Between the hours of 8:37 a.m. and 5:22 p.m (her first and last before son was found drowned in pool) she tweeted 74 times. ”

Social media specialists said criticism of Ross is unfair, noting that she’s simply tech-savvy and using a familiar way to communicate. They added that it’s inappropriate to question her actions at such a horrible time in her life.

How dare these people judge Shellie! Were they there when the accident happened? Is this the right time to make insensitive remarks? Shame on those who yelled out cruel words. Can they even comprehend the depth of Shellie’s grief? When death comes without warning, the shock and disbelief can be overwhelming. Shellie turned to twitter to seek comfort from her community.

My heart goes out to Shellie. While my son was dying at the emergency room, I was too much in shock to talk to anyone but my sister called another sister asking for prayers from other relatives. If posting on Twitter comforted her and made her feel connected and allowed her to ask for prayers for Bryson, then that is her process. She could have been in shock so great that the only way she could balance it was to do what she normally did…twitter. Everyone grieves differently and I would never criticize her for reaching out to her community. There’s no “right or wrong” way to grieve and nobody should judge, especially if they were not there.

Madison goes on to say

“I’ve seen people react [to a death], but they’re screaming their heads off, crying and they don’t know what to do,” she said. “They’re not on Twitter. I’ve never seen that before and I was just shocked.”

Clearly Madison has no idea on the grieving process. The situation is just so surreal. I never screamed or yelled or cried when my son died. It was only days after.

I don’t see the point in punishing her more after this tragic loss. For a parent, there is nothing more devastating than the death of our child. Let her grieve in peace.

If you want to question the death of her child, there is no good in putting blame on the mother. There are lessons learned from the incident but blaming the bereaved mother is not going to help.

When the unthinkable and the unspeakable happens like the death of a child, that is not the time to be judgmental, and especially, not to be mean or nasty about it.

Think: Is this is the appropriate time or place to be chastising anyone? Where is the compassion here?

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1386 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

  • Kevin

    I’m sorry Noemi, but I have to respectfully disagree with you here. I’m not a parent and I obviously wasn’t present at the scene, but I have to believe that there is a very real possibility this incident would not have happened if she had been paying more attention to Bryson and less attention to Twitter.

    Don’t get me wrong: I do feel sympathy for her, her husband, her family, and so forth. It’s a terrible loss, the emotions of which I can’t comprehend and will hopefully never have to.

    That being said, I think there’s something inherently wrong with the situation as I’ve seen it reported. It seems to me she was clearly spending too much time focusing on updating her followers about her travails with the chickens in the coop than her son. I saw her posts second-hand in a news story, and if memory serves correct she had 4 or 5 tweets in the ten approximate minutes leading up to the 911 call. By any logic, that means she likely tweeted more than once while he in the pool.

    It’s one thing when a parent “loses” a child answering the door or the phone, or whilst using the restroom. Those are (or at least, have the potential to be) important parts of life not easily put off until later. Tweeting incessantly about mundane things like cleaning the chicken coop does not (in my opinion) qualify as a priority, and it certainly doesn’t warrant priority over knowing her child’s whereabouts at all times. Plus I think we can both agree that it’s not the 11-year-old brother’s job to mind Bryson. At the end of the day, Twitter is little more than a way for narcissists to endlessly trumpet the minutiae of their lives, and therein lies the reason for the backlash against Shellie Ross.

  • Yeah I don’t think it is fair for people to judge her without having actually been at the scene of what happened, or actually knowing who exactly Shellie is a person in real life and what her connection was with her loves ones and son.

  • pinayhekmi

    Kevin, she was cleared of negligent charges. Maybe you should reread Noemi’s article again about being non-jugmental.

    Do you know anything about this Mom other that what you’ve read? Do you know she is a military mom? Do you know how much a military family moves around? How many friends they accumulate all over the world? Do you know how lonely it can be to be a military family? Maybe her husband was gone on a tour of duty and she was alone again. Maybe her tweets that went out to her friends and her family was her way of not being so lonely, and feeling connected to them. Maybe her tweets on twitter were her “conversations with friends”. What if her friends had actually been in her living room, and they were engrossed in their conversation, and this had happened. Is that more acceptable for you then?

    I tweet. So does that mean I am a narcissist? Actually Noemi tweets too. So I guess she is a narcissist. Again, maybe you should re-read what jugmental means, perhaps your dictionary is different than mine tho.

  • Oh and I’m not sure if I wrote this in my previous (yet to be moderated comment) but she was cleared of negligent charges by police.
    .-= pinayhekmi´s last blog ..Happy Birthday Woody =-.

  • i have lost a child too and i have felt that at least 1 or 2 people will really be judgemental…like in my case, my son was ill and premature when i gave birth to him and he eventually expired a month after…people will dig back to thinking if i ever tried to abort him, or if i had regular check ups, etc…and while those people question these in their minds, they must also take in consideration that the mothers have also asked themselves the same questions, some questions even more brutal than anyone can imagine…

    we, moms indeed experienced a lot during such tough times, and we can only find the answers the the questions we all ask deep in our hearts after a long grieving process…and the grieving process is different for anyone

    if anyone feels that this had been a result of too much tweeting then, at least you’d know better not to commit the similar mistakes….but, we can all just live, let live and give everyone a break!