Sunday Morning Musings: For more than a week now, much of our country has been grieving the tragic deaths of many young hockey players (as well as others who were part of the team). Maybe because it involved the game of hockey, it seems that there is such a strong outpouring of this grief. In some ways grieving together like this seems to make it somewhat more tolerable. Communal grieving is a good thing.
However, we must also be respectful of the need for private grief. Not everyone grieves in the same way, nor do we all grieve at the same time. A good example of these differences was revealed in the scripture story of the death of Jesus. Poor Thomas has been saddled with the moniker of “Doubting Thomas” because he wasn’t with the rest of the group and asked for proof. He wasn’t with the whole group and now centuries later he is still being abused. Sadly, we continue to put everything including grief into a box and often without we assume that anything outside the box one must be abnormal.
My experiences have taught me that there is no normal when it comes to grieving. The stages of grief that have often been used as a guide have, at times, become more harmful than good. Grief does not follow any pattern. I am not saying that the feelings felt are not denial, anger, numbness, bargaining and so on. But to attempt to put them into any type of pattern, to give them any timeline, is but a ruse.
We know there are different types of grief depending on each person’s situation. Men often grieve differently than women. The death of one’s second parent often causes one to grieve differently than when the first parent died. Grieving parents often deal differently than any siblings of the deceased. Children grieve but not like their adult parents or even grandparents. Many of the same emotions will be experienced, but no two of us are alike.
What this means for me is that every situation, every person must be considered individually. The other day hockey sticks were left on porches, jerseys were worn, ribbons worn all seeking to be seen as a symbol of honour and respect. Many have chosen to donate money. It is important that all and any such actions or tributes be considered as ways of grieving and none should be considered wrong. Yet, such actions should also be named. If we are doing something because we are told to do so, or because everyone else is doing it, perhaps we should do a personal check in.
Sometimes we choose to act out of our own sense of guilt. Yes, guilt is a form of grief, but not always a healthy one. Too often, we can also spend time asking the question “why?” Hopefully the investigations will reveal some of this tragedy. But a more important question that needs to be asked is “what now?” We will never fully know why a bus full of hockey players collided with a loaded transport trailer, but we can honour the memories of those who died, and support those whose lives have been forever affected. That support can come in many forms.
Hopefully, we will also realize that live needs to lived fully every day, and love needs to be spoken every day. Accidents can break us, but they can also open our eyes and hearts.