Parents of Baby Brighid: CaringBridge is Our Daughter’s Legacy

Darrin Swanson and JoAnn Hardegger, the parents of Baby Brighid, for whom CaringBridge is named, with founder Sona Mehring, right, and the CaringBridge team in Eagan, MN. (Photo by David McLain)

Twenty-five years ago, after a pregnancy threatened by hypertension and HELLP syndrome, our daughter, Brighid, was born at 24 weeks. She weighed just 1 pound.

While the survival rate for micro-preemies is much better today, our sweet baby, born in 1997, faced so many complications.

Feeling scared and overwhelmed, we accepted the offer of our dear friend, Sona Mehring, to keep family and friends updated on what was going on. After just two agonizing phone calls, Sona, a computer programmer, said, “There has to be a better way.”

People Felt Like They Were Part of Our Family’s Journey

On Brighid’s birthday, June 7, 1997, Sona built a website for Brighid. Everyone rallied around us, and when our long-awaited baby died, after just 9 days, the love and support lifted us up.

Baby book of Brighid Swanson, for whom CaringBridge is named.

People who came to Brighid’s memorial service said they felt connected, like they were part of our family’s journey. And they were.

All these years later, the single website Sona built for Brighid has become hundreds of thousands of websites, connecting millions of people, at a time when support is truly needed.

But there is more to the story. CaringBridge helped heal our family.

We were pretty much broken after Brighid died. We had lost another Baby, Gabriel, who was stillborn, just nine months before.

You never get over losing a child, but as we watched Sona pour her heart and soul into growing CaringBridge, our sorrow transformed. She took our grief and built something out of it.

We realized that through CaringBridge, Baby Brighid accomplished more in her short time on Earth than many do in a lifetime.

Our daughter is not a forgotten child; CaringBridge is her legacy.

Baby Brighid’s Story is the Story of CaringBridge

Today, we have a son and daughter (Sepp and Anya), who are happy and healthy young adults. While they never got to meet their sister, they have grown up knowing that Brighid’s story is the story of CaringBridge.

This year, during which our oldest daughter would have turned 25, we think about whether Brighid may have finished college, been in a career or had a family of our own. We could say we were cheated out of so many cherished moments.

But then we think about Sona, and we wish for everyone the love and support of a friend like her. She was with us when we needed her most. Just like CaringBridge.

We are forever grateful for CaringBridge and hope it will be available for another 25 years and beyond.

We Support CaringBridge. Will You, Too?

We give every year to CaringBridge because we believe everyone should have access to a safe, protected, ad-free place in their time of need. Would you consider making a donation to CaringBridge, too?

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  • Polly Heninger

    I learned about CaringBridge when my cousin used it as she went through cancer surgery 7 years ago. My sister talked me into starting a site in early 2020 before I had major abdominal surgery. I expected to use it for a few weeks but as my health has taken various twists and turns, I’ve kept posting to the site. I’ve benefitted tremendously from being able to share my experiences during recovery as I learn how to live with a transformed gut. My family and friends have appreciated knowing how I’m progressing and being able to send love and support my way so easily. It is also providing me with a way to go back and see what was happening when. No doubt I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am today without CaringBridge. Many blessings on you.

  • D. A. W.

    Until a friend with cancer joined Caring Bridge, I had not ever heard of you. I truly wish I had when my Husband was ill and passed away. Even though we had a way of communicating with friends, your site is incredible.
    For the small baby who began this process-she will ever be in so many peoples hearts.

  • Jhon Edmar

    nice story

  • Anne O'Brien

    Thank you so very much for creating Caring Bridge. Friends/family have used it many times & it creates such a wonderful sense of community in addition to being very helpful on a practical level (organizing meals, rides, etc) It makes some pretty rough times more manageable & lifts the spirits of those receiving & giving words of encouragement & help. God bless you all.

  • Marcie Jenkins

    Thank you for this page. it let my family out of state know what was going on with my duaghter back in jan.2013when she had open heart surgery @ 4 mins. Old. My other3 girls also were able to have their teachers read them to them in class when they were in school so they knew what was going on with their sister down in the cities 6hours away.

  • Amy Amundson

    Thank you for bringing Caring Bridge to life and to all of us. It is more than a legacy. It is truly a beautiful gift that all of you have given to the rest of the world. I will forever be grateful for the way that Caring Bridge has touched our lives and become a part of our story of healing. Thank you, and blessings to you all as your journeys continue.

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  • Chris Travis

    CaringBridge was a way for me to be able to do something while our daughter was going through chemo for Leukemia. When she was first diagnosed, I felt so helpless in that I could not comfort her and tell her that daddy was going to take care of her. We discovered CaringBridge from another parent at clinic and I started Amaya’s page right away. It was a way for me to communicate to the rest of the family since I am very bad at making phone calls. It gave me a feeling that I was able to do something for our daughter. This year on July 10th, will be her 9th year as a cancer survivor. I never knew how a person can be so strong until I watched my daughter go through treatment, beat cancer, and still going strong today.

  • Mary Barrett

    Our daughter, Terrilynn, died of colon cancer at 38, and she had her web site with Caring Bridge. We walked her journey, day by day, and could support her and her hubby. She had 2 small children. We now have a book made with pictures and all her daily stories in, and many memories. This was all a great thing to do!

  • Jodi Weaver

    Congress Sona! You created a legacy that will go on forever! We use it on a daily basis right now for three friends.