Sunday, September 7, 2008

Insensitive Comments

As a child, I learned that if I couldn't say something nice not to say it at all. I will admit that this has been a lesson I struggled with most of my life as I find myself being fairly blunt, sometimes too much so. However, I do know that in moments of tragedy, you learn to say, "I'm sorry," if you can't say anything else.

I have read some of the online Statesman articles. I know I shouldn't read the comments. I have read them before, and they don't always seem to have the greatest insight. But they are too tempting. So I read them. Journalism has changed so much in the last five years, and the internet is revolutionizing how the people interact with democracy through the media. Sometimes I think this is a bad thing. And some of the comments to those articles make that case stronger.

One person said that when he learned that someone lost a 50 inch plasma T.V., he lost empathy for us. First of all, I don't know if empathy is the right word... probably more appropriate to say sympathy. We all lost our homes and memories in the fire. We also lost stuff. If someone were to walk through my home, they could say a table was replaceable or a bookcase. The problem is that they don't understand each piece of furniture (each T.V. even) has a story. For someone who loves books and stories, this is heartbreaking. I won't walk by my table and be reminded of how hard we looked and where we went and how we eventually found it. It will just be a table now, a reminder of the fire and of the loss of the memories of the old one. I also didn't realize that one could only be sympathetic to those without possessions. I consider myself to be a pretty generous and caring person, and never once have I thought that only those who are destitute need my help. Everyone has their low moments, and everyone needs to be picked up and carried through those moments. The generosity of this community, the cards, and the sympathetic words help carry me.

Another comment that was made that was since we had accepted donations, it was unfair that a sign was placed in front of the neighborhood asking people to respect our privacy and not turn our street into a circus show. I don't think any of us ever pointedly asked for donations. The day after the fire, those organizing the volunteer efforts were inundated with people wanting to help. I am sure I would have been one of those people had this not been my tragedy. The people who send cards do so of their own volition. And I keep them with me in a file folder and read them when I need to be lifted emotionally. Regardless, the acceptance of donations or even writing a public blog does not mean that our street should be a carnival. The day after the fire, we had hundreds of people streaming down our street, watching as we dug through our memories, watching as we grieved, taking pictures of our breakdowns. We had so many people parking in front of our homes that we (and our insurance adjusters and others) could not even get to our homes. We had people who thought it ok to walk through our rubble, to find keepsakes of their own of our memories. That is not respect nor being sympathetic or concerned of our needs. I understood those wanting to come through, but I also understand my neighbors wanting that privacy. Those were our homes, and we need a place to grieve them.

And we need space to grieve as well. And I hope that space is filled with the love and comfort that most of this community seems so willing to provide. As for those who can't understand, know that in your time of need, this community will still come through for you. They will stand alongside you, grieve with you, and then lift you back up. Because it's a community, that kind of community.

1 comment:

  1. Brooke, I posted a comment yesterday under "Preparing for Baby" but I think I had locked my profile, which wouldn't have allowed your email to reach me. I've opened my profile since. It was about nursery bedding.