The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Grief Tends Not To Transmit Far

Posted on | February 21, 2013 | 8 Comments

by Smitty

Jerry makes a good point here:

It’s interesting to note where priorities lie for people. I clearly recall after my brother passed away unexpectedly last year feeling not a little anger toward those too self-preoccupied to express condolences even after having been directly notified about what was happening. I also heard from more than a few conservative new media types that I needed to “get over it” and was grieving far too much whenever I mentioned this. Such individuals make this whole forgiveness thing quite the challenge, but it’s a work in progress.

I’ll link this post by way of apologizing for being in the “too pre-occupied” category last September when he wrote it. I recall that we’d made a trip to Germany around then, and were just back. I (looking at YouTube uploads) that I was over at LibertyCon around then.

But the excuse “I was too busy” isn’t really the point. No, the real issue is that, in the detached online world, working up significant emotion for unmet people is a Hard Thing. One’s immediate family, co-workers, members of the community of faith: when they pass, we’re moved. Heroes, statesman (that dwindling breed), artists: when they go, we write a blog post.

For people I haven’t met or don’t know of, genuine emotion just isn’t there. Sure, there is the general honor afforded all veterans, and the comfort of knowing that those of faith may be encountered in the next world. But in a firehose of online information, things like Benghazi draw the attention. The sheer volume of data moving through makes being online a “best effort” endeavor at best, short of contractual obligation.

To our detriment. The Internet was supposed to be a digital utopia, helping the truth get out, and allowing time to focus on Important Matters. Well, that didn’t happen. Jerry, I’m sorry your brother passed, and further sorry about the slow reaction. I’m not sure how the overall situation can be improved.


8 Responses to “Grief Tends Not To Transmit Far”

  1. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 21st, 2013 @ 8:51 pm

    I was sorry at the time when Jerry mentioned about his brother’s passing. I am sorry now. Given his honorable military service, I thank Jerry in his brother’s place.

  2. smbren
    February 21st, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

    When I heard a pundit on TV say last week “the carnival cruise has caused these people deep emotional pain”. I said to the television “burying your child is emotional pain”. Beyond that, any event is just a blip of inconvenience in what we call life. I have found that sometimes people don’t know what to say, so they say nothing at all. I’m not sure what we do to remedy that. There are no rules in mourning, it is a personal experience. Losing a child, your sibling, or your parent at a very young age, are out of order, it is not a normal process of loss, like if your elderly parent dies. The natural order, and most people experience death in the normal stages in which it happens..That is a good thing. How dare people tell Jerry to just get on with life…Prayers to you and your family.

  3. K-Bob
    February 22nd, 2013 @ 1:14 am

    The Internet is just the telephone with text. It isn’t somehow more mannerly to text or email condolences than it would be to call, and most folks don’t want to spend all day on the phone dealing with that.

    I lost my sister last year after Jerrry lost his brother.

    I sure as heck don’t want to see a flood of condolences in my in-box, or even here, and my relationship with her was solid. I prefer my privacy on these things, as do a huge number of folks.So the assumption that it’s bad manners to fail to Publicly Notice or even privately send a simple card is offensive to me.

    Not ragging on Jerry, just providing a different viewpoint.

  4. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 22nd, 2013 @ 2:02 am

    I am glad your relationship with your sister was solid.

  5. Bob Belvedere
    February 22nd, 2013 @ 8:28 am

    Well-stated, K-Bob.

  6. BenInNY
    February 22nd, 2013 @ 10:14 am

    On a lesser level than death, but a parallel idea: I found out who my friends were in ’06 when I had brain surgery and was in the hospital recovering. 2 ex girlfriends–one of which I hadn’t seen in a couple years, my boss (known forever but rarely hung out), and my girlfriend at the time. That’s the list of people that came to the hospital. Of the people I considered friends and actually spent time with, not a single one came to visit or even checked in afterward. I don’t hang out with a single one of them anymore.

    I’ve had people I don’t even know beyond a few back and forth messages on twitter care more about our internet relationships. Not even sure what all this means, but I can’t say it speaks well of… either my old friends or me. Not sure which.

    I can say this though: ” I also heard from more than a few conservative new media types that I needed to “get over it” and was grieving far too much” That is truly disgusting.

  7. Steve Skubinna
    February 22nd, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

    If we’ve ever suffered a painful loss it becomes the touchstone by which we measure others. As such it might be a trifle embarrassing to confront somebody’s pain and find yourself relating it to what happened to you. I know that I go back to my brother’s death and then immediately feel selfish because I’m projecting my own responses onto another person. It becomes a tricky balancing act between “Just tough it out” and “I know what you’re going through.”

    Both are false. There’s so little any one of us can do to help another person through something like that, save perhaps being present, and taking your cue from them.

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    February 24th, 2013 @ 10:49 am

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