Lord Saatchi and his late wife Josephine Hart
Inspired by Lord Saatchi’s story of how inconsolable he is over the death last year of his wife, Josephine Hart, the Today Programme this morning addressed grief. Lord Saatchi is paying the price for an exceptionally happy marriage: his loss is “an incomparable nightmare”, and he thinks coming to terms or moving on would be a betrayal.
Matthew Parris discussed bereavement with the same rationality and empathy that makes him such a wonderful commentator on life and death and saw the issue in much the same terms as did Cristina Odone yesterday: people grieve differently and we shouldn’t insist they get over loss. What was more, as Parris pointed out, it is unnatural that we should ever cease to feel grief over those whom we desperately wish were still alive. I’m with him. Of course the misery abates, but it is perfectly natural that even years on one still desperately misses a person one greatly loved.
It’s worse when one’s loved one has been murdered. When I was helping victims of the 1998 Omagh atrocity find the support and the funds to take a civil case against the bombers, I was constantly horrified by the onlookers who complained that it was time they got over it. I’ve sat with a sobbing woman who had lost her beloved husband, her only son and her faith in God in the blast, who spent hours every day driving round Omagh looking for them and hours more at their grave mourning them. “People tell me I should move on,” she said. “How can I?”
And, indeed, how could she? And how impertinent of anyone to tell her she should!
After disasters, the public sympathises with cards, flowers and money and hopes the injured and the bereaved will have a happy ending. Well, yes, we all hope that, but we should acknowledge that most won’t. They shouldn’t be asked to shut up. There are tragedies and losses that people can’t come to terms with. It’s time that our society moved on and learned to accept that grief is part of life.
Ruth Dudley Edwards