Friday, July 27, 2007

Another Loss...

Mrs. Gilliard Loses Her Brother

Mrs. Gilliard's brother (Steve's uncle) passed away this morning. The death and preceding illness according to Family posting in comments.

The Group News Blog -- Hubris Sonic, Jesse Wendel, LowerManhattanite, and Sara Robinson -- extend our deepest condolences to the Gilliard family.

Here are a few of the conversations from Jen's thread in the last 24 hours. I am promoting them from comments as they pertain to Steve, Jen, and the Gilliard family. Mostly however I'm front-paging them because they contain points you should know, for example why you're not ever going to read details about Gilly's funeral/burial if we can help it. Read on...


I am truly sorry that you and other bloggers feel Steve's family have somehow taken him from you. We did our very best to include you in his final arrangements and are working to consolidate his writing for all of you to see as well. We certainly never intended to take him from you. I think Steve would have agreed that we had to share him and we tried our best to do a good job of that for his funeral.

I apologize for anything we have done to make you feel that Steve was not yours to mourn as well as ours to mourn.

Since Steve's illness, Steve's father has been hospitalized and may be put in a nursing home, Steve's uncle (his mother's brother) has had a heart attack and the same surgery that Steve had and is now suffering some of the same results.

His mother is still struggling with Steve's death and is now facing the same situation with her only remaining brother. And just yesterday, my Dad had a stroke and is hospitalized. We have a lot going on.

Can we get a minute please? I'm not sure what we have done to make you feel like you are a unwelcomed reminder but right now everyone's feelings are still very raw and our thoughts are on all of these issues.

I ask that those of you who are offended by Steve's family's actions to note that we had Steve a lot longer that you did. His mother lost a son, her first born child and daily companion. He is no longer there to watch the news with or go shopping with, she is alone; what is the right way to grieve losing a child??? What prepares us for that???

His sisters lost a brother who is no longer there for those phone calls to catch up on and share what was going on in their lives;

To his neice and nephew Steve was an unbelievable uncle who is no longer there to help with those tough homework questions or school projects or to share with them on their wonderful visits to the museums in NY.

He was our family. We were his family. Steve loved his family and we loved him and lost him way too soon.

While some of you may think it's "pissy", that we claimed him, he was ours to mourn too and we willingly shared him with you during his funeral. How we have left you out post-funeral is a mistery to me.

Jen, I'm sure contact with us is a reminder to you as well. Never feel that you can't call, email or write or whatever you need to do to make contact with us. Steve loved you as his best friend. That means a lot. We respect your relationship with him and don't want you to feel ignored or not included.

We all need time to grieve.

Feel free to give any of us, especially Steve's mother a call and check on her if you feel it. She is heartbroken, lonely and still very angry. All the normal stages of grief. Knowing that anyone who cared for Steve thought enough to check on her would make her day.
Feel free to call his sisters, or me, even if you just want to talk and share or vent. None of us would ever refuse to talk with you or show you anything less than compassion.

Finally, I would ask you to get yourself better. The last thing we want is for you to get sick. Our health is truly one of the most important gifts God has given us. De-stress, Lose weight (i'm working on it too) and get well.


Will also email you offline, but wanted to clarify in public also--please don't feel that I am anything but grateful for being allowed to be involved in Gilly's life, and the mourning process.

I just truly did NOT want to be Yet Another Thing for all of you to deal with. You have all been wonderful to me, and I just wanted to make sure to give everyone--including myself--time to work through everything.

To the rest of the blog community who was wondering why no public info was posted RE Gilly's funeral/viewing: We really did have REAL, CREDIBLE threats all along--from the day he went into the hospital--against his safety and that of his family. If we had made a big announcement, the possibility that truly hateful people would have shown up to be disruptive was very, very real.

Back in the day--before the whole Netslaves thing--Gilly did some work on the Sally Hemmings project (the project to prove that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with at least one of his slaves) and was also an advocate of a lot of the "hidden history" of Blacks during the Civil War. This got him on more wingnut's "wanted" list than you can ever imagine; these are violent people with their entire identities vested in their revisionist history. A few of the very persistent ones sent him private "I know where you live" letters years ago, which he shrugged off, but we sure as hell didn't want them showing up when he was ill and vunerable.

Thanks all for your continued support and understanding, and thank you Francine for bridging the gap and coming to the online family out here.

I hoped to find an obituary with his gravesite so I could make him an entry on Find a Grave.

Everyone -

I don't believe it is a good idea to give out ANY further information on Steve's burial site, including not giving out any details about the funeral, the burial or the Gilliard family, anything at all which people of bad intent could use to trace back to the Gilliard family or find Gilly's grave.

I'll explain...

If you read the racially-explicit threads over Gilly's death written by the those on the (way too many) different right-wing sites their talk was filled with vile hatred, joy, and racial & violent imagery over Steve's death. I won't go into detail.

While he was alive, Steve routinely protected all of us from these obscenities including a few credible threats. There was enough specificity in (again, a few) post-death comments from the bigots and haters that I am certain we -- Steve's TNB and larger blogosphere family -- need to act very responsibly to prevent Steve's actual family from further pain even if only emotional.

I don't want the Gilliard family, Jen, or the families where Gilly is buried to have to deal with any of the hatred still directed at Steve now that he has died. Let his body rest in peace; it's only proper.

I believe it would be a major mistake and seriously ill-considered to post details touching on the Gilliard family or their privacy (they are private, not public people), the location of Steve's grave, the town/region where he is buried, or any details having to do with Gilly's funeral or burial. I strongly request no one do so.

Thank you.
Jesse Wendel
I regret to inform you that Steve's mom has lost her brother this morning. We will not post any details on where to mail cards but emailed condolences can be sent to Steve's email and I will see that she receives them.

This is a very sad sad time.

Jen, Thank you for clearing things up. Please stay well.

Jesse - Thank you for saying what I did not know how to say.
Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Gilliard & the Gilliard family at The News Blog.

I'm leaving comments turned on (for now) however trolls will receive short thrift. Talk about why or what should have been done, re: the family, Jen, or anyone, is strictly off limits.

The Gilliards (except Steve) are private individuals within the limits of media law. You are personally responsible for everything you say or imply. Defame them and we will cheerfully cooperate in their defamation lawsuit against you. I suspect a number of excellent firms would happily represent Steve's family pro-bono against any hate groups or trolls attacking his family.

What happened, happened. Breathe... everything else will follow. Eventually. But you must keep breathing even when it's too much trouble and you don't want to.

Take care of Mrs. Gilliard please. It's easy to slip because we're online. No pass. I remind everyone to treat Mrs. Gilliard, Mr. Gilliard, the Gilliard family, Jen and each other with enormous respect in your speaking and listening. Also your own family and the person at 7-11 who speaks in a strange language. All of them.

Mrs. Gilliard lost a son after months in the hospital and now her brother is gone. The depth of her ongoing journey through Self is profound. Respect her or I'll box your ears. Were she not who she is, none of us would be here today. In a very real sense Mrs. Gilliard is the root cause of both The News Blog and the Group News Blog.

I am thankful for my mother every day. Today I am grateful for Mrs. Gilliard, Mr. Gilliard, Steve's family, and sorrowful that yet again they suffer loss. My heart goes out to them. I mourn and I cry.