Giving Back On the Salt Water Website
There are no definitive words to express the sadness of losing a loved one. But “poignant,” “courageous,” and “funny” are a few words that do describe the collection of stories that people have shared on Salt Water, a local website designed for grief support and dialogue.
Whether it is for the loss of a parent, child, spouse, sibling, friend or pet, Salt Water is an outlet for any person who is experiencing grief of any kind. The name was inspired by Isak Dinesen who said: “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” This adage seemed fitting to the group’s founder, Margo Fowkes. “I created Salt Water to provide a safe harbor for anyone grieving the death of someone they didn’t think they could live without,” says Fowkes. “It is open to everyone, regardless of what they believe, where they are in the grief process or what type of loss they have suffered.”
After her only son, Jimmy, died of brain cancer in 2014, Fowkes looked for resources and support to ease her pain. She wanted to find a community that didn’t focus on providing an explanation for her loss (“It was God’s will”) or attempt to discount her loss, or anyone else’s (“It was just a dog”). “Loss is loss, grief is grief, and pain is pain…we need to honor each other’s grief and pain, not judge it,” Fowkes asserts.
Salt Water’s articles and resources focus on connection and common ground to help people feel less isolated in their grief. It also offers suggestions and ideas for friends and family members who are desperate to help but don’t know how to. “I learned early on that there are no magic words that will bring Jimmy back,” says Fowkes. Rather than criticize people for saying or doing the “wrong” thing, Salt Water offers practical suggestions and encouragement for those who want to help, along with gentle reminders of what a griever might find hurtful despite a loved one’s best intentions.
Approximately 175 original articles and poems are currently on the website and because the group is neither a nonprofit nor a for-profit, there are no donation requests or ads. “[People] say they appreciate the ability to find what they need without being asked for personal information or money,” says Fowkes.
The holidays and the first few weeks after the death of a loved one can be particularly difficult. In September, Salt Water will share stories and advice on how to survive the early days after a loss. During December, there will be daily tips on how to survive the holidays without a beloved family member or friend.
Fowkes encourages readers who have lost someone dear to them to become part of the Salt Water community. “It can be as simple as sharing a story or contributing a blog post, poem, photo or drawing,” she says. “Sign up for our weekly newsletter, follow us on social media, and connect with another griever.”
by Janet Scherr // photos by DANTE FONTANA