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Sandy's Say: Grief, Sex And Suicide

…Love is so imprinted with memories that certain places and things associated with the deceased unexpectedly bring up a well of emotions which ooze out from between the sutures of the healing wound. Life becomes weighed down by an agonised longing to simply push "restore" and return everything to how it was before..,

Sandy James's profound thoughts will resonate in your mind for days and weeks.

It is only if one has truly loved that one can grieve deeply. For, what is grief, if not the realisation that there is now an aching absence where there was once a wonderful, tangible, breathing presence. Raw grief suctions one into a chasm of despair and no amount of time, churning thought and love ever completely remove the scar. Love is so imprinted with memories that certain places and things associated with the deceased unexpectedly bring up a well of emotions which ooze out from between the sutures of the healing wound. Life becomes weighed down by an agonised longing to simply push "restore" and return everything to how it was before.

I have never seen a more iconic photo of grief than one which appeared in the New York Post in the days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre. It was a picture of a young, blonde woman clutching a photo of her missing fiancé, James O'Grady. Tears of anguish streamed down her face which had collapsed in utter desolation. The photo spoke to me more than any words ever could and my heart went out to her. James had been the managing director of Sandler O'Neill and his fiancée, Rachel, desperately searched hospitals for him for a week, in vain.

Imagine my surprise then when I read, eight years later, that this same young woman was Rachel Uchitel, one of the women linked to the Tiger Woods sex scandal! I just could not equate the two apparently different personalities in my mind. When I read the scathing remarks written about her though, I became indignant on her behalf. How dare these pious people pass judgement on her when they could not even begin to imagine how the events of 9/11 had wounded her and totally shredded her heart. How many of these moral police, I wondered had ever stared death squarely in the face or had their sense of reality completely imploded? How could they possibly know how they themselves would react if forced to confront the stark truth that life can be snatched away in an instant? Might they too not start taking risks and relish living on the ethical edge just to prove to themselves that they were still alive?

This story rekindled in me the anger that I had first felt when I read the damaging statements, written about those people forced to jump to their deaths to escape from the overwhelming smoke and flames of the Twin Towers on that same dreadful day. These sanctimonious statements heaped anguish onto the already tormented minds of the victims' families. The argument was to do with semantics and religious dogma. Had these victims" jumped" of their own free will (although, how "free" is it when the only horrific alternative is burning to death?) or were they" blown out" by the explosions or "forced out" by the heat of the flames? Were these deaths to be regarded as homicides or suicides? Why did it matter at all? Apparently it mattered to certain individuals because in some religions suicide is viewed as self-murder and therefore considered a mortal sin.

I, who was raised without the ball and chain (or anchor, depending on your perspective) of indoctrinated opinion, thought that those people who sprang to their deaths were extraordinarily brave. Faced with the same dire situation I'm not sure that I would have the courage to launch myself off a ledge and into certain death. Hopefully I'll never be obliged to find out.

Whenever I battle to understand or explain human nature, I look to animals in the wild and try to find a parallel with which to help fathom out why we behave the way we do. I felt somewhat vindicated therefore when I came across the following story from the jungles of Brunei in a book called "Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs" by Paul Carter.
"So he lit a small fire under the metal dustbin lid and tossed a scorpion in. As the heat slowly started cooking the poor thing alive, it could no longer alternate legs to stand on, and speared itself in the belly with its own sting, dying instantly. I had no idea there existed a creature that, given no choice, would kill itself."

Clearly scorpions are unencumbered by the morals of the fifth commandment.

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To reead more of Sandy's brilliant columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/sandys_say/

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