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Collective Grief. Monday June 5, 2017

I write this watching the Manchester Benefit Concert. Ariana Grande is singing with one of the girls from Little Mix.

Honesty time here: until tonight I had not heard of Little Mix. Until a week ago I had not heard of Ariana Grande. Now, of course, I will never forget that name. I don't think you will either.

My twelve-year-old daughter had of course. She seems to know everything about these "stars". She knows that Ariana Grande likes cats although she is allergic to them. She knows who is her manager, her boyfriend. I know nothing of these things.

But I am a mother. When I put myself in the place of those mothers who have lost children to the actions of a man lost to reason and humanity, then – in the interests of sanity – I must immediately take myself away from that place; it is too painful.

And, this morning. Waking up to the news that yet more people, this time in London, have been killed and viciously injured, apparently "In the name of Allah". There are feelings of desperate sorrow, confusion and uselessness.

This violence has nothing to do with true religion. The reasons why anyone would choose to wittingly take the lives of other human beings in this way are beyond understanding for most of us.

How do we react?

The people singing in this benefit concert are doing what they can. The fund set up enables the rest of us to feel a little better by donating money, but we know nothing we can do makes any real difference. Violence is still out there. It never goes away for long. Those of us over a certain age remember those nervous times in the 1970s when it was IRA bombs we feared.

But we personally, cannot take on the grief of the world. Our own personal griefs will come to us and we must deal with them. We owe the world strong and loving thoughts. If we have faith, then we owe the world our prayers. That is doing what we can. We cannot personally comfort those who grieve unless we know them. We cannot personally help to bring to justice those who commit those acts, unless we are part of the immediately involved justice system.

It feels unfeeling, to emotionally walk away. For many of us we take on the emotion of the world and it hurts us. It drains us and rips us open.

But, who does that help? Not those hurt and killed, or their families. Not us. Not our own families or employers or our friends. We must remember them.

A good friend of mine texted me today, "The news is so bad I am shutting myself away and crafting." She is wise.

We can think strong thoughts. We can pray. But then we move on. If we do anything else, we allow violence and terror win.

I don't know about you, but I choose to let love, peace and health win.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Molly Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 4:27am

Wow !! Brilliant blog Mary. Not sure where to even start with commenting but one of the best blogs I have ever read xx

Lara Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 7:15am

With you on all the above. Loved the concert, hugely emotional yet inspirational. There is a lot of love around us we just need to remember that and give it and reach out for it.
First reply I have made to a blog but have been reading daily for ages and love them. May even write one day!

LP Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 8:31am

Big welcoming smile to you Lara! LP x

Orangeblossom Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 8:05am

Thanks Mary. Found your blog very inspirational.

Esther Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 8:09am

Nicely said. Thank you! There is too much sadness in the world. I have had to realise that every call for sympathy, empathy or consolation costs me more than I can afford. My sense of living goes down and I am depleted. I may as well be dead because it devours my energy. Every beggar, every charity -they all want your money by appealing to a place of kindness.
So in order to get up and deal with my life and hopefully not join the begging hands and mouths around me (and that is before the tv and radio charity marketing gets going) I will apply self care and attention. I may be able to wake up tomorrow.

LP Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 8:43am

Hi Esther, That's why we are here together supporting each other. You absolutely can just be and not feel the need to do. Warm comforting restful wishes. LPxx

LP Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 8:47am

The world is a big place, there is so much of everything. Sadness, but also love, joy, support, people come together at such times to help and to heal. xx

LP Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 8:36am

Hi Mary,
I was also watching the Ariana Grande Concert, supported by fellow artists in Manchester, with thousands of young people and parents showing so much courage, support and love.
So many song lyrics came into their own on that stage.
I'd heard of Ariana Grande before that but didn't know much about her and like you, got a glimpse of that uplifting and joyful popular culture.
Like many other people, following the events of Saturday night in London, I experienced a range of feelings, thoughts and emotions during Sunday and was thankful for the weekend to have ended on such an uplifting strong and positive note.
Children in particular deserve to be able enjoy their lives in safety, which is what was demonstrated happened. It was inspirational.

We do have to look after ourselves, physically and emotionally.
There is a sense of collective grief and support and our society also becomes stronger and safer.
You're so right that as we try to make sense of it all, we can't individually solve it.
It helped me to think that if necessary we will follow and trust in any official advice for our safety not dwell on the negatives.
We carry on being who we are, doing what we feel is right and can be so thankful for those who seek to protect all of us.
Thank you for putting it into words Mary. It's a beautiful morning in London. Love and peace to you and all. LPxxx

Jul Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 9:54am

I too watched the Manchester concert last night. Beforehand I wondered if it was perhaps too soon but immediately it started I realised it was happening at just the right time. Those faces in the arena were magic. Their pure joy tinged with sadness showed us that live music unites us all. The only person I hadn't heard of was Imogen Heap. And I hadn't realised what a lovely voice Miley Cyrus has. Your blog raises some great points Mary. We can't do anything except donate and be kind but I am also feeling a great sadness and kept thinking last night how those who were killed would have loved to have been there. Julxx

Anonymous Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 12:11pm

Hi Mary. Thank you for providing clarity amidst tragedy and uncertainty. It is helpful to have strategies to respond to the recent violence. This is probably not the time or place to ask about prayer but what is it? How and what can we pray? One of my young daughters said: "Lots of people pray each day and so many people who pray are just walking around the streets as well as churches". Perhaps it is as simple as that.

Mary Wednesday Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 4:27pm

The question of "How do I pray?" has been around for ever. The disciples asked it and were given what we now call "The Lord's Prayer". Yet that was just a template, not the prayer itself. Very often I feel I do not have the words; I just hold up the situation and my feelings to God and trust that is enough. It seems to help, anyway. We don't need a special place to pray - although that can help. I do a lot of mine while swimming. Or - just when I think of it.

Anonymous Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 7:33pm

Hi Mary. Thank you for taking the time to respond. "Hold God" suggests that prayer is like mulling something over deeply. We are not making a specific request for ourselves nor asking God to provide a solution. Instead, we hope to gain perspective and reassurance. Thank you for providing just this. I value your wisdom. Go well.

Geoff Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 12:50pm

Thanks for the post Mary.It says much of what I would have like to have said. I don't understand these people who can take their own lives, whilst killing others. But, out of this horror comes so much love and strength from people all over the world. As for prayer, we can pray for the families directly affected by these recent atrocities. May the happy memories of their loved ones hep them through their mourning.

The Gardener Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 4:17pm

Thanks Mary, speaks what so many are thinking. In my London days I was always missing IRA bombs, quite often by a few minutes. In Sicily I was in the middle of a scary capture of a Red Brigade chief - surrounded, terrifyingly, by machine guns. Our second son went out to North Sea Oil Rigs at the time there were numerous helicopter accidents. When he was in Jakarta he, his wife and two small sons were ordered to leave with four hours notice, just with their papers. All the toll booths on the way to the air-port were on fire - hoped they'd get out before what looked like a violent revolution. All very scary - but the difference was that that was part and parcel of dangerous work, and working in a volatile country. Now the 'enemy' is intangible - who (unless there is some fore-warning) can do anything about a man who hires a van and mows people down. It is the most insidious form of terror imaginable - nobody is safe - but the cliche 'life goes on' is the right one - just keep on doing the 'right' thing. As one who went through the blitz this seems worse - we were at war, the enemy was visible, hearable, and fightable. Praying is so difficult - mine, so vague, is for courage, patience and NOT to use my humanity.

Mary Wednesday Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 4:29pm

Thank you all who have commented. I don't feel I can say any more, so have not replied. It seems wrong somehow - to say thank you for commenting that you found it helpful - it was written in response to pain. I am glad, however, if it has helped in any way.

Molly Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 6:18pm

Hi Mary, not sure anyone said it was helpful as such, I think you just spoke words that others felt and you expressed it all in a way that people could relate to. Molly xx

David Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 6:23pm

Great blog, Mary.

"It feels unfeeling, to emotionally walk away. For many of us we take on the emotion of the world and it hurts us. It drains us and rips us open."

I recall saying to a therapist years ago, at a time when I was reading every Holocaust book I could find, that I felt my own troubles were infinitely trivial and that I was self-indulgently navel-gazing. He said, 'For you, certain events in the past, when you were young, were like your own Holocaust'. I wouldn't go that far (if one takes it too literally, the comparison is absurd), but I think there was something in what he said. My obsession with the Holocaust was not, of course, because I was unusually compassionate; rather, in some way, it resonated with my own early experience.

In other words, I think some people respond intensely to the suffering beyond them because that suffering resonates with their own particular suffering. Thus, while those with an easier history are less affected or can switch off, others, as you say, 'take on the emotion of the world'.

Molly Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 7:49pm

Exactly. What annoys me is those that make out they really care and they actually don't give a flying fudge but they like to be 'seen' to be caring about it as it's the done thing.

Lexi Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 8:47pm

I vacillate between feeling overwhelmed with sadness - those children, those families - and feeling numb - if I think about the suffering any more I may die. I too have always struggled with what can I do. I give but I cannot stop those bullets, that van. I know with life there is suffering, but why does there have to be? I too pray. Prayer is the only thing I can offer and I hope that the power of prayer can bring peace.

The woman whose feet don't touch th Mon, Jun 5th 2017 @ 11:03pm

Living in London and U.K. It is overwhelming- seeing all the news and inflicted suffering- thank you Mary for such a touching blog so well written and thoughtful

Eva Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 7:52am

I think it's a time to reach out to the people who you love and let them know.

Hazel Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 9:40am

Wow! profound, how very well said.....I love your blog........ well done you Mary....

Hazel x x x

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