Letter: Outpouring of grief

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Both Deborah Orr's article and your editorial ("A disturbing trend in our modern society", 28 April) were right to be concerned about the nature of the public outpouring of grief following Jill Dando's death. However, I think it is wrong to suggest that this grief is either purely selfish or recreational.

Rather than the cult of celebrity being the main culprit, blame lies with the loss of a sense of community in our society. When a loved one dies, many of us are in the situation where that grief cannot be shared by those around us, because they do not know us or what goes on in our lives. We can no longer expect the support and sympathy which people once received from their neighbours.

Nowadays, though, with the shared knowledge of, or imagined friendship with, public figures such as Jill Dando, or Diana, Princess of Wales, that experience of a shared grief can in some sense be regained.

Our society is all too celebrity-obsessed, intrusive and prurient, but I would suggest that of greater concern, and perhaps a contributory factor, is the finding that one in four of us (under 35) has no kind of relationship with our next-door neighbour.


London W13