One Blogger, Thousands Of Tears:The Blogosphere Mourns Susan Niebur

“You will see other posts about Susan Niebur today, but our own Shannon McKarney, like many in the blogosphere, admired her and wanted to honor her personally.  And so she did.  Right here.”

It was just after 5:00. I was on a phone call, discussing the minutiae of whatever it was we were working on, when I picked up my iPhone to check a detail. I absentmindedly flicked through twitter, and there it was.  @whymommy, in my feed over and over and over. My heart sank, because I knew it wasn’t just a coincidence. People weren’t just randomly chatting. Whymommy, also known as Susan Niebur, has been fighting breast cancer for 5 years, and was recently admitted to respite care to deal with pneumonia, broken vertebrae and end-stage cancer. When her name was scrolling up my screen over and over, I knew right away: She was gone.

“Oh, god, no,” I said to my phone companion. “Whymommy died.” It took saying it a few times before it sank in. Stunned, we pretended to finish our business, then ended our call, both too sad to concentrate any longer.

Susan started blogging, like most of the rest of us, in the middle noughts. It was simple: Talk about her work, her life, her boys, and the strange, nagging pain she was living with. The strange, nagging pain that was breast cancer. And when that was revealed, Susan’s blog suddenly wasn’t just a blog: It was a chronicle of struggle, of hope, and of precious life, a life that became increasingly obvious was going to be too short.

We’re a funny bunch in the blogosphere. Because we write, and because our words are largely there for, well, forever, we get to know each other pretty well. You could meet someone – or not even meet them, just find their blog – on some random Tuesday and within days feel like you know them as well as you know your best friend, because it’s all there in their archives. You can go back and read about their average boring parenting days or the days when they got diagnosed with a life-altering disease the same as if you were there all along.

So we’re tight. And we love each other. And we keep tabs on each other.

Susan fought cancer for 5 years – 3 years longer than they told her she could fight. And throughout her journey, she blogged. She blogged about the successes and failures, about the pain and the fear, about the joys and triumphs, about her faith, and about love. And when she entered what seemed to be — and what inevitably, were — her final days, we lifted her up. We told her we loved her. That her strength and grace inspired us all. That her courage in the face of her cancer inspired everyone to fight their own battles a little harder. That when there appeared to be nothing left but hope, we hoped for her.

Today, we are left in a world without Susan. But I hope she knew – knows – what a mark she left on everyone. That she has made a difference in so many lives. That she was a dear friend, the best kind of friend. That her flame on earth may be extinguished, but that it will burn in our hearts forever. And that her boys have a mother they can always, always be fiercely proud of, not just because of the way she faced cancer, but because of the way she lived her life: with joy, and hard work, and pursuit of dreams, and laughter, always laughter.

Susan’s faith and mine are different. But I believe that Susan’s spirit is today among the stars she loved so much, watching over her family, her friends, her dear boys. And the next time I look at the clear night sky, I will find a star, and make a wish. For Susan. And for everyone taken from us too soon.


Related posts:

Susan Niebur: Stargazer, Fighter and Friend

Nothing More to Say

What Breast Cancer Is, And Is Not (Video)


Photo Credit: Laurie White (Used with permission)


Whymommy Love Fest


Jane Warre
Jane Warren5 years ago

RIP Susan.
Thank you for your blogged words.

Robert O.
Robert O5 years ago

I offer my deepest condolences. May she rest in peace.

federico bortoletto

Riposa in pace Susan

Miss N.
Past Member 5 years ago

RIP Susan...

Wende Anne Maunder
Wendé Maunder5 years ago

Rest in peace Susan Niebur. May your great legacy live on.

Charli Stubbs
Charlotte S5 years ago

Although her loss will be felt by so many at least she is no longer in pain. I believe in reincarnation and hope that her next life will impact the world as much as this one did.

Jacquie J.
Jacquie J5 years ago


Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Blessed be.

Sam T.
Samantha Trosky5 years ago

RIP Susan. I hope your kids are able to remember you since they are so young and I hope they are able to heal from such a great loss! What a sad day!