Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why, what, how long do we mourn?

On November 13 here on MindSieve, my posted comments had to do with the hard won freedoms that we enjoy and often take for granted in the United States. You may quickly reread the post if you'd like but my conclusion was that the losses felt by families who have lost their "own" in war or service to their fellow persons are losses that should be felt and shared by us all....not an easy goal feeling a personal loss by only reading or listening to stories or seeing movies about great tragedies of our time.

The words of that post, still swirling around a bit in my brain, have drawn me to four specific tragedies that feel (as two are) relevant to my generation - #1 brought to my attention as a teenager, #2 occurred the year prior to my birth, #3 when I was about 18 months old and #4 having occurred in the current decade. They may seem random to you as they do to me. When these four came up on my brain's "radarscope" I was surprised at the specific assortment and also drawn into many more tragedies that I have mourned such as John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King’s assassinations, the Pan Am 103 explosion over Lockerbie, the 1998 Air France Concorde SST tragedy in France.

Whatever age you are, I suspect you will have some feeling or memory of how you felt the first time these stories were told to you or that you witnessed them in real time....which would mean your own lifetime's memory specifically would be of the September 11, 2001, events.

This post has turned into an unexpectedly long narration and I bid you rejoin it tomorrow……


  1. If I understand you correctly you are asking how we can take the impersonality of a tragedy and perceive it as a personal loss?
    Perhaps a lot of it is to do with the loss of possibility - the Kennedy brothers, Dr King and others. We feel a wistfulness for what might have been.
    I think though that the ever-present media we live with today stirs up sentimentality rather than genuine emotion, and that's something we all need to be aware of.

  2. Tess - your perceptive comment is very meaningful and I appreciate your insight into loss/tragedy. Particularly the emptiness/sorrow we feel over what you've named - "the loss of possibility".....which may be what most mourning is really about - the loss of possibility.

    Thanks for our comments - part II of these thoughts is showing up later today....

  3. i really want to comment thoughtfully but i am a little confused and thus distracted by your mentioning of 4 events with dates and then going on to mention 5 more that i don't think coincide with those dates. maybe tomorrow's post will help clarify :-)

    i have been doing some reading about myth and i wonder particularly in the instance of the kennedy's and dr. king that these individuals represent archetypal characters that we can relate too and their losses very definitely feel personal and/or universal. still pondering that one...

    i know for me that i am often surprised by the depth of my own feeling when i read of the loss of someone i have never met. i am glad my heart feels the loss...and i am ashamed of how quickly i move on to my own "stuff".

    great questions of "why, what and how long do we mourn?"

    i'll be back for more!


  4. Lucy - sorry for confusion - the #s 1-4 will be clarified in PART II of this post. The random 5 are yet "more" tragedies I relate to - a lot out of fear of random circumstance as in the air tragedies. Stayed tuned:)