Every now and again the Internet does something amazing to make up for all the awfulness found in its gutters — and it absolutely restores my faith in humanity. Then, you know, I’ll read a thread of comments on Yahoo or YouTube and am immediately slapped back into the gutters.
But for now, tonight, the Internet done good.
It started as a simple request from a grieving dad on Reddit and it ended with heartbreakingly beautiful acts of kindness from strangers.
Nathen Steffel posted a photo of his newborn, Sophia, with one request:
“My daughter recently passed away after a long battle in the children’s hospital. Since she was in the hospital her whole life we never were able to get a photo without all her tubes. Can someone remove the tubes from this photo?”
As The Huffington Post reports, Steffel explained that Sophia passed away in Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital after suffering a hepatic hemangioma in her liver at just six weeks old.
What happened next is pure awesome. Reddit users began posting not only Photoshopped photos of Sophia, but painted and drawn portraits of the infant.
This is how the Internet should be used for grieving, people. We’re still figuring it out, this grieving online thing, as is evidenced by the backlash NPR’s Scott Simon received when he so eloquently tweeted the passing of his beloved mother. I said it then and I’ll say it again: what better way to reach out than social media? The Internet is the Wild West and we’re still learning the laws of the land but, in this case, someone needed help and strangers responded with love and kindness as opposed to judgment and scorn.
Steffel tells The Huffington Post he was blown away by the support and personal messages from strangers. He says seeing his daughter without all the medical equipment was amazing and he and his wife plan to hang up some of the artwork they received along with Sophia’s original photos “because that’s how she was,” he says.