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.