…and who can blame her? She tweeted that she didn’t want to be part of “the whoopla” of Michael Jackson’s memorial, that her grief was a private thing between her and Michael, not to be shared with strangers.
I’ve lost enough people to know that I’d be the same in her position: I cannot imagine sharing my grief with millions of strangers. In this case, with the entire voyeuristic world–from which I don’t exclude myself: I’ve got my television on too.
When my friend Andrea died a few years ago, I said this in a post titled On Grief:
Grief is a deeply private emotion. To a certain extent it can be shared, but the most profound mourning is internal. Even writing about grief becomes a struggle to explain—not, as with other emotions, a re-living.
So, yes, I can understand why Liz stayed home, and I respect her for it. Not that there’s anything wrong with having a memorial, or that those who went to it harbor shady motives; it’s all perfectly fine. Some people need to be around
others, to attempt to share their grief, hoping it might hurt less. Notice, though, that it’s turning into “a celebration of Michael’s life,” rather than a “bum trip.” We wouldn’t want that, now, would we? It’s that subtle pressure to put a good face on things that makes me want to do my mourning alone. I believe in grief. I believe in feeling sad when someone dies–that is, if that’s the way you feel.
Some people seem to think the public outpouring for Michael Jackson, devoid of the ambivalence that arose from the molestation charges against him, is hypocritical, or in keeping with the happy face mentality. I don’t think it’s hypocrisy, though; here’s something else I think is true of grief:
From the moment I learned of my father’s death, all the fights we’d had—mostly political in nature—melted away. The negative aspects of my relationship with him—and there were plenty—slipped off like the skin of a snake, leaving only his love. A poet friend who’d experienced much early loss in life put it into precisely those words: “All that stuff falls away,” she said, “and what you’re left with is the love.”
That’s what’s happening in the immediate wake of Michael Jackson’s death–the stuff has fallen away, and people are feeling only his love.
The memorial service has just begun. “I’ll Be There,” a most appropriate choice for the opening number, is playing. I’m going to go watch the service. Alone.