Fill-Anthropy— CaringBridge Organization

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PICTURED ABOVE: Me, Founder and author of “Hope Conquers All”-Sona Mehring, Chief Operating Officer-Liwanag, Fellow advisory council member-Lindy Stanke

Allow me to tell you a little bit about The CaringBridge Organization, an organization near and dear to my heart.   I am honored to serve as a member of the CaringBridge executive advisory council. It has been a pleasure to meet and work with so many other dedicated members of the CaringBridge family as well. (Sona, CB Staff, fellow advisory and board members).  After attending an advisory council meeting this week, I felt inspired to more boldly highlight the good work this organization does via my blog.  Initially, I was asked by the organization to write a few short articles on their blog site about my experience as a mother of a child who had had cancer.  Subsequently, I was asked to join the excutive advisory council (an ancillary committee to the board of directors).

I had never even heard of CaringBridge or its services until my daughter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor nearly seven years ago.  My sister-in-law is a hospice social worker at a local hospital in Minneapolis (Methodist) and gratefully she set up our daughter’s CaringBridge site within hours of receiving this devastating and shocking diagnosis.  To be honest, I’m not sure how our family would have survived without CaringBridge.  It was meaningful and beneficial in so many ways.

Initially, it was a place to disseminate all the information we were receiving to many people who cared.  I think anyone who has had to cope with an unforeseen (or foreseen for that matter) hospitalization (especially in an ICU) can tell you how difficult it is to communicate in that setting.  Cell phone usage may be prohibitive and talking may even be exhausting and difficult while in a crisis mode.  Having our CaringBridge website as a centralized place to provide information in the first stage of this arduous journey eased some of our burden.  Like many other CaringBridge individual user websites,  it morphed into more than just a place to disseminate information.



The first few entries unto our site were composed by my family and husband.  I became the primary author of Marit’s CaringBridge site (maritkyllofrancis) after assimilating the initial devastating shock of the diagnosis. (Not willing to say I will ever say the shock of it will ever be gone entirely?).  The ability to write about the treatment and my coinciding feelings became a tremendous outlet for me. In fact, I now realize it also gave me something to do while often feeling helpless in relation to the situation in its entirety.  I had always enjoyed writing but given the general chaos of life, I hadn’t taken time for writing in many years.  So cliche but so true, life as I knew it before the diagnosis, came to a screeching halt. An altered life emerged and CaringBridge became a part of that life.

On a related note, I feel that time takes on a different dimension in health care settings and in times of unbearable stress.  For example, while waiting for MRI brain and spinal scans to be completed and results to be given,  I always perceive time moving ever so slowly. (I often become transfixed on the red second hand moving on the clock in the St. Jude MRI waiting room while my daughter, lays sedated on a cold, hard table)  Whereas, in “normal”  life, days may often seem to “fly by”.  Needless to say, the time spent in cancer treatment seemed to last exorbitantly longer than in “normal” life.  I had hours of time for contemplation and relished in being able to recount aspects of my perceived surreal existence.

Again, what a wonderful space CaringBridge gave me by providing a safe, private space to provide information and to “dump” some of what swirled in my head. In addition, I now have a tangible record of facts and feelings. Perhaps even more treasured is a record and demonstration of kindness, compassion, faith and love that exists within people and within my community.  An immeasurable gift, indeed!  I know that I was utterly sustained by the words of encouragement I received from the people who posted on our site.  I continue to be humbled and overwhelmed by the compassion, care, prayers I/we received and the love that I felt during this most terrible diagnosis and treatment time, into recovery and years beyond. I truly believe that a portion of my continued healing occurred as a result of my using CaringBridge along the cancer journey.

I can’t forget to highlight the added benefit I gained by being able to follow other people’s sites going through similar situations.  I was able to follow many other St. Jude Family’s journeys via CaringBridge.  The ability to recognize that I wasn’t alone in what I was coping with helped me tremendously too.

CaringBridges Mission Statement is this:

To amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier.

I wholeheartedly believe that CaringBridge does just this!!!

HERE ARE SOME KEY FACTS: (Or click on the following link to wikipedia for a longer version)

CaringBridge was founded 18 years ago by Sona Mehring.  Sona’s friend was experiencing a difficult pregnancy and gave birth to a baby girl named Brighid.  Baby Brighid, sorrowfully, passed away but her legacy lives on in the birth of the wonderful CaringBridge Organization.


CaringBridge is based in Eagan, Minnesota

CaringBridge also provides a section within the website that helps in coordinating other services (meals, transportation needs, childcare etc.)

Every 7 minutes a new CB site is created

In 2014 there were more than 72,000 families who created CaringBridge websites

Since 1997 there have been over 530,000 CaringBridge sites created

300,000 people visit CaringBridge daily

2.2 million new people joined CaringBridge communities in 2014

CaringBridge served 35 million people in 2014 (That’s an impressive number of people, I think!)

That said, growth and increased utilization is among the organization’s goals:

CaringBridge would love to expand it’s services more broadly throughout the country/world and be known as THE choice to rally a community, for individuals on a health journey.

I am fairly certain that any of you reading this has either been a CaringBridge author,  a CaringBridge site visitor or will be one or both at some point in your future.  If you or anyone you know has a need for CaringBridge, please recommend it and/or join me in trying to spread the word about it. Share my blog, CaringBridge’s website by mouth and/or by social media!!! “Like” their page on Facebook if you’d be so kind, or perhaps consider making a financial contribution.  Many volunteer opportunities exist as well:

If anyone has any feedback to share, suggestions to make, desire to come and see the office, etc. I would gratefully welcome your thoughts and ideas.  I will happily share with Sona and the staff.

Together, we can make a difference in continuing an already wonderful organization who helps so many, to grow and serve an even greater number of people in need!!!



  1. Dawn Schafer says

    Hi Berit, I did not realize that CB started right here in MN! I have used this site many times to keep in touch with friends and family dealing with health issues. It’s a wonderful way to feel connected. I so appreciate you sharing this information with your readers, I have gone to their website and signed up as an Amplifier! I can’t do much but will do my part to spread the work. Thank you

    • author says

      WOW. I’m so happy that my post inspired you to volunteer. That’s terrific!!! Thanks so much for being a fellow Amplifier!!!
      Thank YOU so very much!!!

  2. Kristina Schatz says

    Caring Bridge has helped my family and friends through so many difficult health scenarios. Thank you for being our mouth piece, thank you for helping us keep everyone informed, we are very grateful and thankful for Caring Bridge.

    • author says

      Yes. I am so very grateful for the services CaringBridge provides and until you need them, you may not even know about it. I’m simply trying to raise awareness. It’s a wonderful organization I’m proud to be associated with.

  3. Sue Jewell says

    I agree with all you’ve said about this amazing organization, Berit; it’s been so important to so many people. Our women’s lunch group chose Caring Bridge for our December donation this past year; we’ve all found it a godsend…

    • author says

      I agree Sue. “Godsend” sums it up! Thank you for continuing to be such a dedicated follower of my blog. I so appreciate your comments, feedback and any suggestions are appreciated too. The book or books is what I really aspire to next but haven’t committed to the discipline required as of yet…The blog has been good practice! I think of you often as I’m writing these knowing my former English teacher may likely be finding all sorts of grammatical errors and such! I have come to simply realize that for some people, writing is simply enjoyable though…

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