Letters to the Editor

Grieving is not a public exercise

I hate roadside memorials.

My job forces me to drive more miles than I want to given today’s gas prices, so on any day I might pass several of these monuments to kitsch.

Perhaps mine is the reaction of a detached stranger with no feelings for the deceased so commemorated.

Perhaps it is even the reaction of one who might subconsciously be avoiding the recognition of the finale awaiting us all.

I don’t know.

What’s more, I don’t care.

When did grief become a public exercise?

What can society do to assuage a deeply personal, even tragic experience? The answer is nothing. Societies rightly do not grieve. Individuals do.

All of which makes the roadside memorial an apposite metaphor for our experience of death.

To the near and dear death is a sometimes debilitating blow they struggle with while an uncaring world speeds past their tears. Happily, it is a cry the collective does not hear.

Nor should it hear, for society is all about collective strength, otherwise why would it exist?

Those we love, those nearest to us, are dear only because we have attained a level of intimacy with them that others did not.

Societies can never go to that level of personal appreciation of the individual.

So don’t ask me to grieve when you do, if the deceased is not dear to me.

Don’t demand I share your pain, as I have my own to bear. I know this sounds harsh, even cruel, but I’ve loved and lost, too. Again happily, I remember those that I’ve lost for something other than where they died. I remember and celebrate their lives.


Cas Balicki


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