This business of public grief over deaths of celebrities and major tragedies..

fire80 mentioned about lighting a candle for the September 11 victims. It reminded me of something that we (grieving mothers) used to do. Before I gave birth to my toddler and after the death of my Vincent, I used to light candles. I love candles and tea lights. But with toddler  around, it is a fire hazard. Now, I don’t even have matches and lighters at home.

Back then, we used to do so on some deceased children anniversaries or birthdays. It is a comforting to do because out there, in Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA and other countries, we know that someone is actually doing something for us.

But over the years, I have less of those mellow feelings and I guess it is a good sign that I have moved on. However, through my involvement with mothers from overseas, I notice that they are a lot more expressive of their feelings. Some of the mothers who are old enough to be my mothers, who babies died at birth and if they had lived, would be the same age as me, are still talking and doing things for their deceased child. Get it? Mother mourning over a child that would be late 30s who died at birth? I find that a little uncomfortable and that’s why I left all the overseas group and started my own little Malaysian group of 30+ members, consisting of fathers and mothers.

So, seriously, the other day when Steve Irwin died, I was ‘oh, ok’ and did not mention anything. Why? Because I never like his show, his breath-y voice and those ugly khakis and tempurung hairstyle. The phytons look more beautiful. But oh my…..I notice on my MSN and especialy my son’s MSN, tortoises (or are they turtles, wateva) were crawling all over. I mean, seriously? That dramatic? I sniggered at the uproars that old lady Greer created, calling Australians idiots for their dramatic expression of grief.

I did a little check on my trusted grief guru’s site and yeap, it talks about Public Grief:

Public Grief, although thought of as a new phenomenon, is not. From man’s earliest records people gathered together to share a loss in villages and towns throughout recorded history. In modern times, with television, we are able to get to know people we have never met in a way we never thought possible. When that person dies, we feel a personal loss, even though they are not a member of our family or a close friend.

Let me look back…On John Lennon’s death, I was at a student exchange camp when I was in Form Four. We read the news on the papers and I was a bit shaken ‘cos John Lennon’s vinyl records played often in my home (my brother’s). During Princess Diana’s funeral, I did shed some tears looking at her sons. And especially that Elton John’s song of ‘Make me a channel of your peace’ (St. Francis Assisi’s prayers). I remembered how grieved our nation was at our ex-PMs Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn’s funeral. I know both PMs have very handsome looking sons. Too bad they are fat and bald now. 🙂

Well, that’s that. I don’t think we Malaysians are going to do much more other than that few tears shed at some touching scenes at funeral. Or are we going to emulate the Western folks in a huge show of public grief? Look, we did not even remember much about those tsunami victims, Genting towers tragedy and so many other major deaths. Do you think we will one day be as expressive as the Western folks by doing candlelight vigil, multi-hues ribbons etc etc? I don’t think so.

It is better this way because frankly, we are bound to die one day. Not a day more, not a day less. It is good for people to remember but an over showing of emotions and dramas can lead many people into depression. Even those bystanders will get themselves into a blue period. Yayayaya, I am one bitter and uncaring person. ‘Cos I saw a rainbow this evening. A beautiful rainbow. But you know what? The one time when I saw a rainbow along the north-south highway four years ago, I thought I was going to find a healthy son waiting for me in UMMC, KL (I was travelling from Penang). But the next night, I brought back his cold, stiff body. So, stuff it – those over showing of public grief. No big deal for me.

Awww…did I just make everyone depressed? Please don’t. ‘Cos I am just testing my skill in being melodramatic. I promise to write about overweight aunties wearing harajuku or wtf you call those anime fashion clothes in Tesco. OMG, the horrors! And aunties putting their bi-focal wtf! spectacles on their heads like a pair of Oakley shades at 11.30 pm in a hypermarket. The world is ending…..Plus, plus old uncles who are almost bald, gel their hair to stand like a punk. Laterz…

13 thoughts on “This business of public grief over deaths of celebrities and major tragedies..

  1. Lilian, I m back ! from Pg! Do I look like a noodle ?? after eating too much noodles!
    Hey Lilian, sometimes I wonder if u are alright?? You are being insensitive or indifferent after your previous experience. Life is precious! If anyone passed away, I felt the loss. It is better to let it out than to keep it in. OK, I DO cry like a baby at funerals !

  2. Lilian, public grief? I have seen the mother of it all when Diana was killed. Everyone seemed to be united in this. But of course, there were the 7/7 incident here in London. Everyone from all walks of life and religious background was and I believe still is grieving for the victims.

  3. Well ,thats what separates a caring and morally responsible society and one that doesn’t I suppose.The asian psyche tends to tune out disasters that don’t involve them or their immmediate relations.We sympathize but it stops there.There is more social cohesion amongst people in western society and they tend to empathize with their fellow citizens when something happens.I think its good to have a good cry every now and then and a collective outpouring of grief shows that “we care” for our fellow human beings which bolsters confidence in times of real need.I think the collective outpouring of grief in OZ for steve shows a caring society.I just wish we were more demonstrative of our affections for others rather than just pay lip servoce.

  4. Hi Lilian!

    Well, I think there are other things that come with this “public grief” culture. They live in a community, like a family unit. That’s why they feel the loss. I think that can be a nice environment.

  5. Public Grief…a collective situation where the overwhelming feelings at that point in time was to the point of breaking and everyone breaks up in thoughts of memories of someone or something connected to that person.

    A period that I must say, I have had a fair share, a funeral for friends, trying to reason out why they had to die and in one case, who did it (an accidental murder) but I realised that I felt a lot better after that, there was nothing to supress though initially, a lot of bitting of the upper lids but eventually, it just can’t be stopped and somehow the tap starts falling, in memory of the one loss and also in knowing that we’ll never see them around and so we grief actualyl for ourselves also for those departed are now in a far better place, but we still have that emptiness and try to comprehend why it happened but only God knows and only God has the reason as to why he takes someone away from us and therefore, place all our trust in God and take Mary as an example to place all our trust completely in God, even in seing her only son being placed to death on a cross, labelled as a criminal and a society outcast.

  6. Sometimes I wonder will the perished souls know that there are so many people griefed for their death and move on? Or stay on coz they feel sorry for us too?

  7. funnily enough, i cried when endon passed. I didn’t even know her!

    But, all that being said, I firmly believe death is a celebration of a life being lived! So, go hv a life now!!

  8. Sometimes when people have moved on to the other side,we just have to let them go because hey,life is life. You need to let them go because hanging on something that doesn’t belong to you anymore is more painful from death.

  9. Lilian, you’re something of an expert on grieving and the grief process already, as i can see in your posts and your blogs. You’re a sensitive person… How long did it take to decide to write that last few lines?

    Forgive me if I assumed too much, ok? God bless.

  10. Lilian, when I say light a candle, I mean on a cake ok. Light in their memory, blow to extinguish all memories and eat cake for comfort… (Hide face behind two hand and peek between the fingers!!)

  11. fire80 – Dun lah, my post bukan nak reply to your comment, cuma I teringat kat depa yang melebih-lebih. Hahaha.

    Bernard – Which last lines? You mean the last paragraph? Throws people off the loop with the jokes? Well, I did get some special people to help me through. One of them is Prof. Lucy Lum of UMMC. So, in a way, I have sort out many things. But nearing birthday and anniversaries, I do go off a bit but usually, pop back, if that’s what you mean? So, if you see me with more jokes or crass comments, it can mean the opposite, sometimes.

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