wordly images

21st Century Eulogy?

Posted in Uncategorized by hellyj on June 18, 2010

‘In Gods Country’, The Painted Desert, Arizona


I just received the tragic news that a close relative of mine had very suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at the tender age of 37 years old. Obviously, this has been a big shock to all the family as he was a very well loved member of our big family – always ready with a huge smile and and a big bear hug, the joker of any family occasion, yet a sensitive soul, with a capacious heart. Suffice to say, he will be missed – enormously. He was also an only child and I can hardly even begin to comprehend how that must feel for my aunt and uncle, other than comparing it to the emotional turmoil that I experienced when my sisters and I lost our Dad (very suddenly and unexpectedly too) 7 1/2 years ago – over wrought, hysterical, disturbed, falling apart are just a few of the synonyms I can think of…………put simply: grief-stricken beyond anything I’d ever imagined I could ever experience. But, I dealt with it in my own intrinsic, personal way……I withdrew, voluntarily exiling myself,  from the city to the quiet little village that had been my childhood home, and into my Dad’s house, . It was there that I endeavored to process the immense loss, being very selective about who  I wanted to talk to, open up to, cry with, say ‘why?’ with………basically, who I wanted to share my grief with.

But a strange, insidious, phenomenon seems to have crept its way into the fabric of our society: the weird and wonderful world of Facebook! Now, don’t get me wrong, I use this social networking tool for all its worth – to market the fine art business I’m involved in, the African expedition and/or to share my images from my travels etc with my family and friends who live far away. But yesterday, I saw that members of my family were discussing the untimely death of our beautiful cousin openly on the public news feed wall! At first I was both angry and dumbfounded by this ‘oh so public’ display of grief…….and I don’t mean that being public with your grief is a bad thing per se, by any means, as we each deal with it in our own particular ways. But, the news feed page of Facebook that is not just read by your close friends and family but by acquaintances, business colleagues, people who have connected with you because you happened to have 6 friends in common, thereby you must have something in common too!?!

It was the oddest thing, watching those little pings of messages going back and forth: ‘RIP cuz J***’, ‘so sad’, ‘need to stay in touch n be a proper family, love ya cuz’, ‘we will be up for the funeral god its hard to say that’, ‘I’m here if you need me hun’ and so on it goes…..I watched, mesmerised (mostly with disbelieve) as this unfold over the course of 15-20 minutes yesterday, right after I made the phone call home to find out more (that was after a very close family member had Skype -messaged me to tell me my cousin had died!?!). And, what was I doing on FB in the first place at this time, you may well ask? Why, because its open on my desktop almost constantly so that I can catch up with friends and family. Hmmmmm…….is that kettle, pot, black?

And now, whilst writing this,  I got this weird feeling in the pit pf my stomach and so I checked my cousin’s FB home page and there it is,  an out pouring of  heart-felt accolade’s to my dearly departed cousin, from his close friends and family;  as if he could be reading them right now (in a more peaceful place, I hope).  As if they are all having a wake before we have even had the funeral!  I have to say though, I am crying as I read them………..he was a very well-loved, popular young man……I hope he knows that, wherever he may be…..maybe there is FB on the other side?

But then who am I to judge how others choose to air their grief when here I sit, writing my own tribute for all the world to read (should they even desire to in the first place and/or even stumble across my little page of thoughts in the myriad of trillions of blogs out there in the ether!)?

In the immortal (prophetic?) words of my cousin’s last ever post on FB (9 days before he passed) at 13.57GMT on 8th June:  ‘Closed!’


grieving, confused, hypocritical and contradictory

RIP J.A. – 1973-2010 You will never ever be forgotten

With love, ‘Our Helen’ xxxxxx


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