Comfort, connection, community: Grief support at

Millions of people visit Guest Books each month. Some only know the deceased through a friend, family member or co-worker. Others don’t know the deceased at all, but for whatever reason feel compelled to sign the Guest Book. Many more, however, are bereaved and trying to cope with the loss of their loved one – and their grief pours out in the Guest Book, in entry after entry.

In 2005, I joined the team as a Guest Book screener and, like my colleagues, was moved by the powerful stories and emotions being shared in the Guest Book. Later, I became involved in customer service and found myself speaking and corresponding daily with people experiencing tremendous grief. Their stories were heartbreaking, and I tried to be as courteous and attentive as possible, to help in some small way – but how I wished I could do more to ease their suffering.

Soon, I would get the opportunity when I was offered the chance to help create a grief support network. On May 1, 2008, LegacyConnect launched with a small library of articles and advice from leading grief and loss experts, as well as forum discussions where members could share their stories and connect with others going through similar experiences. Two and a half years later, LegacyConnect features hundreds of articles and blogs from more than a dozen experts in grief, condolences, funeral etiquette, obituary and eulogy writing, estate planning and more. And the LegacyConnect community continues to grow, with nearly 10,000 members supporting each other and sharing advice, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I’m honored and proud to have played a role in the creation of LegacyConnect, which in a relatively short time has become a vital source of information, comfort and strength for its thousands of grieving members, plus hundreds of thousands more visitors.

But don’t take my word for it. Just ask members of the LegacyConnect community…

Steve CainI am so glad that I found this site at this second. The profile picture is of myself and my beloved wife from our honeymoon at Niagara Falls last August. She died suddenly on Sunday night. I am working through a LOT of what I have been reading in several of the pages since I got up at around 4:30 when I could no longer sleep. I hope as the days, weeks and months come and go, I find more things on here to help me understand and cope with what I will be going through.                    (Steve Cain on June 24, 2009)

TanyaThis is the first time that I have come across this site. And after reading everyone’s stories on here there is some comfort knowing that I am not alone… (Tanya  on January 13, 2009)

Elaine Banks PhillipsIf at anytime you need someone to talk to get on your computer and type what you feel and someone will answer you. We are just like family here. You can cry on our shoulders. And it is OK to cry. Because I am still crying for Kris and it will be three years in April. We will be praying for you and your family…..Elaine (Elaine Banks Phillips on January 13, 2009)

AngelaI am 19 years old and my older brother Alvin who passed was a true HERO. I believe he lost his life trying to save my younger brother Michael who fell into the Willamette River on November 16, 2008. A simple fishing trip that turned into a tragedy… My heart is broken into too many pieces to ever be ok again but if anyone has any advice as to making things a little easier as the days pass… I could use it. (Angela on January 14, 2009)

amaryllisBetsy, the same way as you i lost my husband last year – he was so sick and frail because Parkinson’s, dementia, aspiration pneumoniaafter loosing my husband, i lost a grandson and now – on March 20, my eldest son. i thought i would go out of my mind. with the help of prayers. readings, meditation and my Faith i see i am going through my grief feeling in same time i am not alone. i am getting help through this wonderful Legacy Connect. i’ll make a prayer for you, Betsy.amaryllis (amaryllis on May 1, 2009)

SusanIt is sad to see so many people who have gone through the pain of losing a loved one……….a child.
But thank God for this site, because it is a lifeline for a lot of us. It gives us something that we have been searching for and not finding anywhere else. Unfortunately, we can’t have our children back, but we CAN find peace eventually. All of you are in my thoughts and prayers. (Susan on March 14, 2010)

Estil CanterburyDear Kathle I am very sorry to hear your grandson died. If it is not too painful, I would love to hear the story of his life. There was a time in America when we wore special clothes to indicate someone close to us had died. Strangers could stop us on the street and ask about our loved one so that we could tell their story over and over again. There was a time when we knew how important it was to mourn. We’ve forgotten, but Legacy has allowed us to remember. Legacy is our mourning clothes, and strangers can ask about our loved ones. I would love to hear the story of your grandson in whatever way you can tell it. May peace be upon you. Estil
(Estil Canterbury on July 1, 2010)

About Jessica

In 2005, I moved to Chicago and began looking for a job. Having spent nearly a decade in New York and Los Angeles as a teacher and children's bookseller, I expected I would do something similar. But the job that caught my eye and intrigued me most was not in education or children’s literature. It was in online obituaries, of all things. Obituaries? Yes, obituaries. In my years with Legacy – whether screening Guest Book entries, managing customer service or developing editorial content – I’ve had the opportunity to help people at the most difficult times in their lives. Though it isn’t always easy to explain what I do, it’s easy for friends and family to see how satisfied I am with my work. When I’m not providing support to our online grief and loss community, I can usually be found providing support to my husband, preschooler, toddler and two cats. I also enjoy visiting my family in Alabama and playing my ukulele.
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