I’m calling it.

There are so many people calling each other blind at the moment over the correct way to mourn someone, I can’t quite get my head around it.This evening someone I know posted something about other people being upset if you post a picture of Carrie Fisher in her Jabba bikini rather than her in her incarnation as a general, because somehow it’s disrespectful.

That’s when I went a bit postal, and undoubtedly disgraced myself on Twitter by adding to the shrill, hectoring tone I have been so angered by. Be in no doubt that I am absolutely aware of the irony of this.

On the other hand. FUCK THAT NOISE.

You know what’s disrespectful? Telling other people how to feel and who they should feel it about. That’s disrespectful. That’s not even disrespectful. That’s fucking disgraceful.

All my life I was told that anger was inappropriate, and unseemly and wrong. In some cases, at some times this is indeed correct.

On the other hand, if someone is being bigoted, or racist or a bully or cruel or scoring points off someone to make themselves feel better by grinding someone else into the dirt, then it is not inappropriate to get really fucking angry about it. It absolutely does not make me ashamed to call that shit out. It makes me feel pretty glorious actually. A bit terrified, and aware that I’ve already broken my nose twice, but yeah, glorious all the same.

So I’m calling it. Stop it. Stop it right now. If you are one of the people daring to tell people how to grieve, and what’s right and what’s wrong, just stop it. What gives you the right to take someone else’s sadness and turn it into a weapon to beat them with? Why are you grubbing for the moral high ground by scrabbling over the bodies of people who are just feeling unhappy because someone they love has died?

You do not get to tell people how to be sad about people they’ve loved and lost. You do not get to judge how important that person was to them based on who you think is important. What the fuck do you know about how important someone is to someone else? You do not get to measure someone else’s grief with your ‘special yardstick of moral rectitude.’ You can take that yardstick and stick it up your self-righteous arse.

You do not get to tell people that they should not mourn a celebrity dying because of all the other people in the world dying who are more important. Everyone is important and believe it or not, it is entirely possible to be sad that George Michael (who I was going to marry) is dead, and still feel absolute, wrenching grief about refugees, and the situation in the Yemen, and Syria, and battered wives. I know this, because this is the battle scarred shape of my heart right now.

You do not get to tell people that they can only mourn people they actually knew or were related to. Love doesn’t work that way. Love is complicated and splendid and unruly and the heart wants what the heart wants and so it damn well should. It no more loves great aunt Ethel whose politics are to the right of Genghis Khan than it does ebola, but it can break in two for a skinny little, sexually ambiguous runt like David Bowie who taught it how to dare and be and live.

Love doesn’t play by the rules and neither does grief. And the great thing about love, which is really what mourning someone is, the more generous you are with it, the more it  thrives. Talking about our sadness and our love connects us. And that love? It comes back to us when we need it and it repays us tenfold. Connecting with people through a shared love and compassion is what the world needs right now, frankly.

You do not get to tell people that the men and women who made up the patchwork of care and love and creativity and wonder and inspiration that has made them who they are today are tawdry and worthless and stupid or worse, that they are pathetic for daring to be sad about such things.

Some of us are blessed with wonderful families. Some of us have to make our families through the people we choose to love. If we’re smart, we do both.  These people we mourn, they gave us something, they helped us be something, or to stop being something else. They were our way markers, our flare paths into the future. Sometimes they saved our lives. Just knowing there was a different way to be, to think, to speak was enough to save us.

So if you’re thinking of having a dig at someone just because they’re not being sad the way you want, please don’t bother. You think it makes them look stupid? You really are missing the point.


12 responses to “I’m calling it.

  1. What a gloriously, bang on post! Feel the anger! ❤

  2. Thank you for your anger. It reminds me I’m not mad, and is expressed in a more articulate way than I can normally manage when I’m really furious. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I am happy to see i am not the only one pissed about this. Yesterday i wrote something to the same effect on FB. The idea of “You should remember Carrie Fisher as…” (or anyone else) is just offensive. Everyone has it’s own memories of her and it is condescending to expect others to restrict themself to your pov. While Leia in her epic bikini is certainly something i will remember, it is her kicking arse on the deathstar that defined her for me. And as sad as it might be, i never had as much an emotional attachement to Carrie Fisher as i had to Princess Leia, mostly just because i didn’t know her as well as Leia.
    Actors and other celebrities for most of us are constructs of what we know about them and how we perceive them. The relationship is a personal one, albeit completely one sided.
    Over all this is just another aspect of our life, how much importance anyone gives to it is a personal decision that effectively has no impact on others at all. If this annoys you, deal with it.

  4. Well said Katie. It never ceases to amaze me the way some people constantly judge other people, even those they don’t know; and what is worse, feel entitled to criticise them. Clearly they do not have enough in their lives to make them happy let alone gracious, which is sad.

  5. Amen!
    You often get the same sort of sneering when people are mourning the loss of a pet animal. There is no hierarchy of grief or of suffering. If one person has cancer and another has a bad leg, they are equally entitled to feel shit. If one person has lost a beloved dog and another has lost a husband and yet another is bereft because their favourite actor has died, NO ONE gets to say one or the other has more “right” to their tears. There are no rights here, just feelings, and your feelings are as valid as any other person’s.

    I freely admit I am possibly not the most sentimental person in these circumstances. While I can & do cry at the drop of a hat at movies, TV, coverage of the Cenotaph ceremony, on the other hand I never visit graves or especially remember the dates my Dad or sister died. And while I am upset that we have lost some truly remarkable people this year, especially as I have a long list of utter fuckers who I would far rather have “lost”, it isn’t actually impinging on my day to day life. But I appreciate that isn’t the case for everybody and above all I can try to be KIND and understand that they are genuine in their upset.

    My only reservation would be when politicians jump on the bandwagon; I imagine if Dave were still PM, we would have been treated by now to stories of his devotion to Wham! back in the day. But then, maybe that would be real too, and I am just being mean? So far better, as I say, to be kind, even if the particular grief is not one you share.

    All the best for 2017, Katy. I wish I could believe it will be an improvement.

  6. Dear Katy, if I say “I love you”, will it sound like I’ve started on the sherry a bit earlier than is wise??? Thanking you for saying exactly what I think, far more eloquently and succinctly than I could.

  7. You are totally and utterly amazing Kate!

    I wish I’d been able to say what you’ve written – it’s in my heart, but my pesky, goldfish, brain keeps getting in the way!

    Thank you for, once again, saying all the things I’ve been feeling this week, but have been unable to express – and in such a way that must resonate with any thinking, feeling, human being.

    I hope you and your’s have an amazing 2017 – we can but hope that things will get better, can’t we? 🙂

    Happy New Year

  8. I love you. Your words on love and mourning and how we connect are so spot on.

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