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Mourning the Death of an Unknown

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I was at a memorial service the other day. A strange happening. One of the people I had responsibility for, killed himself. Committed suicide… His first month in Norway was my responsibility. In his second month in Norway he killed himself.

It is strange, because I talked to this guy. Not much, but a little. More than many of the other people I had responsibility for. He was fascinating. I believe that when someone dies, most people will be very positive and say a lot of kind things about him or her, even if it isn’t necessarily true. We like to remember our dead in a positive way. Well, when it comes to this guy I think it was true when they said he was a gifted, smart young man with every possibility in life. His only really bad trait was that he was too timid. He helped a lot of people around him, and even if he wasn’t the center of attention people respected him.

But, the weirdest thing in this memorial was how unaffected I felt. I truly felt sorry for his staggering, shock damaged father, which came to Norway to attend his memorial. He came into the room crying and holding the hand of his interpreter. He also made sure that if his dead son had borrowed anything he would pay it back, and that if he’d ever been rude he apologized on behalf of him. I even felt sorry for the people sitting around me, crying hard, even if they didn’t know him. Some of them never even met him, but still they cried. We all paid our last respects to him. But that was all. I think that, for my case, it was more of an act, an act to show that I cared for this unknown man. An act to please his father and his friends. But I didn’t really care..? 

This is of course a tragedy. Someone is dead. A man killed himself. But the way some of these people at the memorial reacted… they were crying hard, blaming and criticizing themselves, saying they should’ve done more, even the people they didn’t know him! That had neven even seen him! This is so strange and far away from my reality its hard to understand. I went to the memorial, I was sad, I went home and played Bioshock and had a great time, and then went out to get drunk and have fun with my friends. And unlike (some) these people I knew this guy and I actually had, unlike all of these people, responsibility for this guy when he came to Norway. But if I were to blame myself I would be destroyed. And I had a reason to blame myself…

Don’t misunderstand, I truly feel sorry for this guy and his family and his friends, but I can’t relate to the sorrow that many of these other people felt, not only do I think it is an act but also tears of overreacting.

Rest in peace, unknown.


Written by Aslak

October 6, 2008 at 11:36

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