Letter: Privatised grief is hard to face

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The Independent Online
Sir: Bryan Appleyard ("While parents mourn, the nation watches", 6 September) unwittingly highlights and underlines the real problem experienced by many parents in our modern society when they suffer intense grief through the tragic death of their children (something I have personally experienced).

Towards the end of his article he reminds us that "ultimately the real victims will have to survive alone". And this is the paradox. For all the "weirdly normalised" interest that is taken publicly by the media when tragedies occur, the truth is that privately individuals are often stigmatised and isolated after a child's death, a time when they desperately need others to help them come to terms with the situation they are experiencing. Colin Parry hints at this. Talking to the media was, he felt, a safe way to express his emotions.

It seems we can acknowledge others' grief from a safe distance packaged and presented on our television screens but not through individual interaction with each other. Does this distancing not reinforce the modern myth that everyone is led to expect but which no one can attain, of a "perfect" life?

Does it not also expose the arid nature of today's society, in which loss of community support has occurred through the individualisation and privatisation of society?

Brian Appleyard states "making suffering routine makes it impossible" and that "privacy is essential to dignity". Dignity is a red herring, and privatising grief is what makes it impossible for those suffering it. Is his plea merely: "I find even this remote display of these emotions uncomfortable, please keep them to yourself"?

Mrs TERRY HEAD

Eastleigh,

Hampshire

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