Browsing Tag

tragedy

Grief, Guest Posts, healing

Boys of Winter & Prairie Things

April 25, 2018

By Shannon Haywood

I was sitting in Dairy Queen on Saturday, grabbing a quick bite before heading to my friend’s husband’s memorial service, when I was suddenly, and without any control at all, overcome with tears. I sat there for a few moments, trying to stop the flow, and kept my head down, in order to hide my face from those at tables surrounding mine.

People that were with their children, no doubt fueling up prior to spending a Saturday running errands, taking the kids to indoor leisure centers or movies or even the pool. Endless possibilities and even more activities that every Canadian family has spent Saturdays doing.

Maybe even headed to play hockey. Continue Reading…

Binders, Grief, Guest Posts

Of A Piece: The Days After 9-11

September 11, 2015

By Bernadette Murphy

It’s two days after the World Trade Center collapse and I am unable to function. I watched yesterday, with my kids as they hoisted on their backpacks ready for the school day to begin, scenes of destruction that I am still unable to fathom; it will be months if not years, I fear, before the scope of what’s happened can penetrate my mind. As the second tower imploded, live in Technicolor on our screen, my six-year-old daughter, Hope, ran to her bedroom to get her ceramic angel. The angel, which had been a baby shower gift when I was expecting her birth, used to be a nightlight, but Hope’s since removed the inner working and keeps the ceramic angel as a playmate. She came back to the television set just as CNN showed the first of countless repeats of the horrific scene. Hope held her angel to the television screen so that the angel could see the destruction, confident in the belief that the angel would be there with the wounded and dying. This image continues to haunt me; I wish I could believe today as simply as Hope believes.

Later, I tell my friend Marjorie about Hope’s actions. I e-mailed her because I’m as yet unable to talk with people about these happenings. Marjorie’s older brother has been fighting the fires at the Pentagon, the very place where her father, as a military physician, had worked until recently. Marjorie grew up an army brat on bases around the world; she’s also Arab- American.

“Hope was well named,” Marjorie e-mailed back, telling me she’s as stunned and incapable of normal action as I am.

I’ve been watching the news nearly nonstop since the attacks. When I get sick of seeing the same scenes before my eyes, I switch off the TV long enough to read every word of coverage from the Los Angeles Times. I can think of nothing else. It’s a huge relief when the school day comes to an end and I’m forced to turn off the television and function as a mother, if only at 10 percent capacity.

As a freelance writer working for myself, I have no clocks to punch, no bosses to appease; if I wish to spend my entire day in the pain and sadness of this tragedy, I can do so. In some ways, I think of this as a blessing. It seems vitally important to me, somehow, to be a witness to these events. To not brush them off and get back to normal as soon as possible, but to feel as deeply as I must the heartbreak and incredible grief that swamp me. While everyone talks of retaliation and patriotism, buying flags and making God Bless America signs, I can do nothing more than feel the huge, overwhelming pain of these events.

I don’t want to talk about why someone would do such a thing. I don’t want to analyze what America’s response should be or how our world is forever changed. To do any of those things requires an ability to intellectualize something I haven’t even begun to process emotionally. Some might accuse me of morbidity, but it seems important to be present with this destruction, to feel it deeply and honestly, to recognize how badly this hurts. Only when I can fully embrace my own sense of woundedness will there be any hope of determining how to move forward.
By the second half of the second day, I can do one thing other than watch the news and read the papers. I can knit. It seems stupid to think of this craft as anything important in the light of what has occurred, but still I do. I need to center myself again. It’s not fear I’m battling, though knitting is a good antidote to fear, but deep, abiding sadness, irreconcilable loss, the sense of things being torn asunder. A good friend of mine who’s a native of Manhattan (but now an avowed Angeleno) is grieving as well. We both agree that instead of waving flags, what we feel like doing is following the Jewish rite of mourning, which involves wearing a piece of black fabric pinned to one’s garment, fabric that’s been rent to show the irretrievable nature of loss. Continue Reading…

loss

Unspeakable Heartbreak.

December 16, 2012

A girl came up to me in my second yoga class yesterday morning, shaking. She had started to cry and said that since Friday all she could do was think about coming to my class, that it would soothe her. Yikes, I didn’t know how I would do that but I was happy she said something as I already had the theme of class planned. And it was simple: Just send out love to the people in Connecticut.

I had another post planned but it felt so trivial and trite after what happened on Friday. I will still post it in a few days. I am not going to stop living my life and crawl into a cave of grief. Don’t worry.

I do, however, think its important that we mourn and get sad and feel and connect. So my classes this weekend was about THAT and THEM. It is important that we feel and yet not be crippled by that feeling (I have done so in the past) but rather let us remind us what it means to connect. To love deeply. Not let it unravel us completely but just enough that we wake up.

We wake up.

During savasana, I pressed down on the shoulders of the girl who had approached me  and her lip had started to quiver and the tears started again. I was touching her and reminding her what it feels like to be human and to feel safe. How unsafe we all feel.

Not unsafe like we are all worried that we might get shot at any moment (although let’s be honest: that can happen. We just can’t live like it can.) Unsafe in the way we feel when something happens that feels beyond our grasp like finding out you will never get to touch the person you love most again in the world for no reason.

We like to place things into boxes and files and we like to name them and when we can’t we feel unsafe and scared. Let’s say your child gets diagnosed with a very very rare genetic disorder and no matter what you will do, he will die (unsafe! No explanation! Why! Why! Why!) or let’s say one day someone you love more than anyone in the world tells you I just don’t love you (unsafe! How can this be? Why! Why! Why!) or let’s say you send your 6 year old off to school and they wave goodbye to you from behind their larger than life backpack and that is the last time you ever see them. That little hand waving backwards. Someone shoots them down in their classroom (Unsafe! This is not possible! Why! Why! Why!) When we can’t understand something we feel unsafe.

Or at least I do.

When my nephew was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, (Prader Willi Syndrome) before I understood it, I wanted to eat comfort foods and cry and hide behind my husband’s leg like a small child because all I wanted was to feel safe again. How can this happen? How can this be? So many shitty things have already happened in our family, how can one more happen? I need to feel safe. Help!

I hope that girl yesterday released a little of her pain. I actually don’t think it was “her” pain. Nor is it mine. We are feeling THEIR pain when we feel this.

I was angered when I saw someone post on Facebook something to the effect of Oh, stop watching the news! This stuff happens everyday all over the world. Why should this be any different?

Why shouldn’t it be different?

It is different. It is always different. Yes, we all experience loss and some have more tragedy than others, this is true. But why should we not mourn what effects us and why should not more effect us? We don’t let it.

We separate ourselves by saying Thank G-d I wasn’t there. It didn’t happen to me. I am not going to look or pay attention.

Listen to me: Pay attention.

It did happen to you. You were there. You are a human being and this is a call for us to be our most fiercely human selves. Maybe if I knew about every incident or tragedy in the world I would fall apart, maybe it is better that I don’t watch the news every day. All I can say is that to feel is to be human. If you do not feel that all those kids died scared (hopefully it was fast and they didn’t understand) and that people were more brave than I will ever be and lost their lives to protect kids hiding in a closet then just stop for a moment and place your hand over heart because all it means is that you have forgotten. I am asking you to remember.

Do not be confused. I am not talking about gun laws or the mental issue at stake. I have a lot to say about both. But I will save that. I wish his mother hadn’t had the guns and he hadn’t known how to use them. I wish that someone had paid attention and had gotten him help for his mental illness.

I wish I wish I wish I wish.

Meanwhile, I am just so sad still and that’s fine. It will never be fine what happened yet with time the healing will begin.

But not yet. Not yet.

G-d bless them all. I think of my 5 year old nephew and thank whatever kind of bullshit lucky stars there are that it wasn’t him. How fair is that? It’s not!

But it is what it is.

Luck was invented with slot machines and parking spots.

We need to access the deepest parts of our humanity and love fiercely. Always. That will not stop these things from happening. But maybe it will lessen them? I don’t know. All I know is that we cannot turn a blind eye and make pretend that it didn’t happen to us. We will never understand why this happened.

We never supposed to understand this.

It’s impossible for us to place this anywhere in our minds except under “unspeakable heartbreak”.

We will never know where to put this. In a few months it will be something else on the news that will have our mind’s attention, but the heart, the heart must remember this.

May we remember that while we have the capacity to love (and if you are reading this you do! You do!) we must do just that. We must love and love and love and love. We must bring our hands together as a gesture of unity and hope that no matter how much horror we see in our lifetime and how much loss we will never stop expressing our deepest humanity.

For if we do, we have lost all.