In April 2015, Emile Weaver gave birth alone in the bathroom of her sorority house at a small liberal arts university in Ohio. Sorority sisters who’d suspected the pregnancy for months discovered her baby that night in the garbage, dead. Alex Ronan investigates what happened to Weaver, the campus response to rumors and confirmation of Weaver’s pregnancy, and how her community reckoned with questions of blame and responsibility before and after the baby’s discovery.
Content warning: This story covers neonaticide, “when a parent kills his or her baby in the 24-hour window after birth.”
“It was comforting to think that when we look into the sky we’re seeing the past, since that’s where I wanted to be. ” Alex Ronan on grieving for her brother Mark and finding her place in the universe.
Humans have always found meaning in the tragedies of others. But what happens when social media enables well-meaning, sometimes-obsessive followers to take part in the grief of people they’ve never met?