The politicisation of grief makes us all alone

Jul 12, 2017 by

by Jane Kelly, TCW:

As presenter of the BBC’s Any Questions, David Jacobs once worried that women panellists were not always strong enough to deal with tough debate. He’d seen them sometimes close to tears. What would he have made of Jack Monroe, who describes herself on Twitter as, ‘Chronicler of things, mother, queer.’ On Saturday (July 1st) she managed to sob her way through most of the programme, not due to the debate but because the topics raised by the audience in Hungerford filled her with so much emotion.

[…]  Linda Woodhead, professor of the sociology of religion at Lancaster University, spoke on Radio 4 recently about the ‘democratisation of grief.’ She delighted in it and ‘the new place of women and young girls playing a leading role in it.’ She seriously calls them ‘the ritual leaders,’ believing they are ‘expressing our values of love, kindness, solidarity, and celebration of diversity, in a very impressive way.’

She applauds this new communal grief enacted in ‘the public space’ as a way of empowering women, the young and minority faiths. Or as she put it, sounding like an educated Max Bygraves; ‘It’s all about heart. There are hearts everywhere, on signs, balloons, there is a lot of creativity there (in), the expression of emotion.’

There has been a profound change in the way we mourn and commemorate. The funeral of the children and adults who died at Aberfan in 1966 took place in a public space, a hillside overlooking the town, but the service was led by Christian ministers from all denominations. It lasted thirteen minutes and was attended by 12,000 mourners. Other services were held in churches and chapels all over Wales.

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