I’ve been thinking about my response to Kari’s comment on yesterday’s post about the lost memorial mural in my neighborhood. My reply talked about the “ok-ness” of public grief, and how memorial murals affirm that, normalize that.
Brooklyn is, sadly, full of memorial murals — some small and rudimentary, some enormous and fully realized. As sad as they are to see, we need them, need that reminder that it’s ok to grieve, to grieve “out loud” and in techni-color if that’s the way our grief manifests. I think there’s too much of a push to “get over” sadness quickly and move on.
I remember when my dad passed away, a lot of people seemed to think I was spending too much time being sad about it. I got the news at the place where I worked, and in that moment they were all very nice about it. I left work early that day then was back after taking the rest of the week off for funeral and travel and just because. A day or so later, one of the men I worked for commented that I looked unhappy. I reminded him that my father had just died, and he said something insane like, “Oh, I thought you’d be over that by now.”
Seriously? In five days I was going to “be over” the death of a parent? True, my father and I weren’t particularly close, but that man certainly had no knowledge of that. And if he had? No matter. Even if my father and I had had the worst relationship in the history of fathers and daughters, I think his death would require more than a few days for me to process.
But that man’s insensitivity wasn’t some wacky strangeness of his. I got similar comments from quite a few people. People definitely feel a need to encourage other people to swallow their grief, to put a good face on bad news and get over it quickly. As if that proves something, shows how strong and adult you are. Feh.
The memorial murals put the lie to that. They say, “No. Loss of a loved one is meaningful for more than ten minutes. It’s meaningful enough that I’m going to feel what I feel, and I’m going to share it with the community in a way that will be (semi) permanent.”
I appreciate and respect that.
To see the rest of today’s slices, head over to Two Writing Teachers.