Heather Armstrong, founder of one of the first mommy blogs, Dooce.com, has died, according to an Instagram post on her account. She was 47.
“Heather Brooke Hamilton aka Heather B. Armstrong aka dooce aka love of my life. July 19, 1975 — May 9, 2023. ‘It takes an ocean not to break.’ Hold your loved ones close and love everyone else,” the post on Instagram reads.
She is survived by daughters Leta, 19, and Marlo, 14; her ex-husband, Jon Armstrong, and her boyfriend, Pete Ashdown.
A request for comment sent to Jon Armstrong was not immediately returned. In response to an Instagram comment expressing disbelief that the news was true, he wrote, “Afraid so.”
Armstrong died by suicide, Ashdown told The Associated Press. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Once deemed “Queen of the Mommy Bloggers,” Armstrong rose to prominence in the early days of the internet, becoming one of the first “momfluencers” and blazing a trail for a wealth of other women to follow with the advent of Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and other social media.
Her blog launched in 2001 and she quickly grew in popularity for her candor. She shared her experiences with leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with sex and discussed the highs and lows of raising her daughters.
In 2009, Forbes named Armstrong one of the most influential women in media, noting her blog averaged 300,000 followers at the time.
In an April 15, 2012 interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie, Armstrong said she was “really scared” to share the news of her divorce from her husband.
“A lot of people bring their own perspective and experience to something like this and I didn’t know if talking about it was going to destroy everything,” Armstrong said at the time. “I thought I had to talk about it, because I felt inauthentic not to share what was going on, because I’ve been so open about my life for almost 11 years.”
Armstrong was also open about her mental health, particularly her struggles with depression.
She published several books, including a book of essays entitled “Things I Learned About My Dad (in Therapy): Essays”; a memoir entitled “It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita”; and a book about her struggle with suicidal depression titled “The Valedictorian of Being Dead: The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live.”
After news of Armstrong’s death broke on social media, many reflected on what her blog had meant to them.
“It’s shocking to hear Heather Armstrong died yesterday,” author Roxane Gay wrote in a tweet. “It’s hard to put into words just how influential she was to the blogosphere. I hope she is at peace, and that her children and loved ones are finding solace where they can.”
Author Lyz Lens tweeted that Armstrong showed her that she could self-publish on the internet and write on her own terms without a publisher.
“I was an avid dooce reader and her second and my first kid are similar ages and her writing got me through some very rough times of motherhood and made me feel sane and seen and laugh through tears,” Lens wrote.
Some online said they were saddened by the news, despite having mixed feelings toward Armstrong’s blog after a 2022 post, in which she made comments about transgender people that critics described as transphobic.
“I am hit in so many ways hearing of Heather’s death,” one person tweeted. “I started reading dooce while I was still Mormon, I was a parenting blogger while she was the biggest, and recently I unfollowed her as she expressed transphobic views. It’s like my whole relationship with the internet.”
“I used to be a huge Dooce fan; her writing about mental health did a lot for me back then,” another person tweeted. “She lost me years ago, but I’d check in to see how the kids were doing, and I hoped she’d get help. I am heartbroken for her kids.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
Kait Hanson, TODAY contributed.