Loss. We all have to live with it – or rather, encounter it – at some point in our lives. Loss has the power to change the way we see the world. It’s not always a good change, but it’s a change nonetheless.
oss is how we feel as a nation now after the Creeslough tragedy.
The loss broke us, took the lives of 10 people and made us question our worldview.
When I think about the nature of loss, I think about those I’ve lost – family members, friends, co-workers, even a friend’s children.
We can never know what form loss will take in our lives – each one manifests in a unique way.
As a young man, I witnessed the death of my grandmother and uncle in a short time, both of which affected me greatly. The journey of loss is one that I have encountered through my own life experiences.
The loss sends us on a strange journey. Famed author Joan Didion wrote a classic about it in her 2005 book The Year of Magical Thinkingon the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne.
I know some of that magical thinking: in the journey of grief, we feel like the world has changed; It has been altered from what we knew and coming back will take a hero’s journey to understand the pain we faced.
Grief, it seems, sends us on strange journeys of both heart and mind.
Recently, a friend who has suffered a great tragedy in his family told me that he has to accept that whatever normal is, it will take time for him to get back to a normal way of life.
When I think of Donegal I see that there are different types of grief – there is the loss of 10 individuals but also the loss felt by the community, county and nation.
How many gas stations have we all been to? How many times have we visited our local store? We put ourselves in this story because it is such a normal part of our everyday life and this normality was taken away from us. It is a strange thing to mourn as a nation, but we do so with great dignity and empathy in this country. Maybe it’s because the whole island feels like one big community, where there are no strangers, just neighbors we haven’t met yet.
There are times when we bond when we keep the space between us. This week has been a time of coming together, a time when mourning and mourning go hand in hand. Light can be difficult to see.
In times like these we turn to the poets, we turn to the writers to help us make sense of what happened.
This reminds me of the tender poem by John O’Donohue For sadnessin which he writes:
Your heart is heavy with loss/And though that loss has hurt others too/No one knows what has been taken from you/When the stillness of absence deepens.
Verses can comfort us and make us visible in our grief. There is something powerful in this movement.
Loss, I think now, can bind us together. We can see what strong emotion can do to others, and it brings out our humanity to those around us.
In the grief that now grips the nation following the Creeslough tragedy, our thoughts can and should be in our shared grief.
We have a way with death in our processions and wakes and funerals and songs. We are, I hope, a people who understand what grief is – that it is different than death, that it encompasses so much more.
As Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho said, we can all “be victims of the world,” but we can see the beauty of life again. If we can come back to our center, maybe we can take the great journey inward to make sense of this changed world.
In this center is a song whose words I am still learning – the song of the fields, but also the poem of the birds, the cymbals of the grass, the crescendo of the trees and the unheard sounds of life itself. I think as I think about it, we will sing all these verses all our lives.
The world must go on, we cannot be strangers to it.
Death is coming, but no one knows how long or short their journey will be. What happened in Creeslough took people’s time. We, as a nation, can now take their memories and live for them by holding them in our hearts.
That’s the thing about grief: we can overcome it by holding loved ones in our hearts. The Tower of Remembrance can defeat death. Perhaps our task this week is to remember not only those lost in Creeslough, but also those taken from us too soon, those we lost in life. Capturing our loved ones in our memories transcends everything.
Grief and loss are titanic issues in a titanic landscape, but we are a titanic people. We can occupy this space and become the poets of our own lives, thus writing the inscriptions of our own lives and those we love.
Maybe my language sounds flowery, but a language rich in nature, rich in beauty, has its place – it has its time, and if we cannot call upon the army of poets when we mourn, when can we call upon them?
For the mourners, we hear you. For those who mourn, we embrace you.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/lets-remember-the-victims-of-creeslough-by-carrying-them-in-our-hearts-42068059.html Let’s remember the victims of Creeslough by holding them in our hearts