I didn’t understand the Diana grief, the (literally) screaming hysteria of people who didn’t know her at all. I didn’t understand it earlier this year for Amy Winehouse either. Of course I understand the sadness for a young woman dying too young, but I didn’t understand why people who didn’t know this woman at all were (they said) ‘grieving’. Very many people in my immediate circle have died in my life – by the time I was 40 that included my sister, my nephew, both parents, some very important uncles and aunts, and of course, all four grandparents, as well as several wonderful friends – so I’ve never quite understood why people say they are grieving for a public figure, when actual grief – the constant, nagging, day to day pain of losing someone who is in your day to day life – is so agonising, so burning, so all-consuming. And nothing like the sadness of the death of a public figure who we may feel has touched us in some, many, ways – but who isn’t in our lives daily. Who isn’t someone we KNOW.
Today, looking at the tweets and statuses and obits and stories for and about Steve Jobs, I sense a different kind of acknowledgement. Not people crying for the death of an unattainable ‘star’, not people mourning someone who didn’t really live long enough to fulfill their potential, but people using the technology many of us now use daily, constantly, to be in TOUCH, to share, to acknowledge how personally valuable they find the technology we so often take for granted, how the technological is now personal.
And I far prefer this collective emotion, because this doesn’t sound, to me, like collective grief. It sounds like gratitude. And gratitude is a great start to any day.
Anyway, here he is giving that speech :
This is a nice blog and an eloquent tribute to a man you clearly respect.
Exactly! Well said.
Spot on, Stella.
I agree that the respect shown for Steve Jobs is a mark of our appreciation for what he has achieved. It does feel like a kind of gratitude. But I do think that people feel the sadness of loss too.
I too have lost a number of people in my life Stella; including my sister, a brother, my mother and all my grandparents. All before I was 30. Another brother is suffering from terminal cancer. I think it’s because of this that I’m not so sure that people grieve for public figures as such, even when they say they do. I often think it’s more a kind of mass empathy. I cried when Diana died. Not because I was grieving for her but because I was emotionally affected by the knowledge of what her family was going through. If you have suffered lots of death in the family I think you become personally affected by other deaths simply because you really feel for them. I think it was John Donne who wrote that ‘Every man’s death diminishes me…’
I agree fully Excellent blog
The voice of thoughtful reason at last ; thank you .