I sat in shock on the morning of Aug. 22 while watching the morning news.
As the headline scrolled across the bottom of our TV screen, I thought I had misread the caption “Jack Layton passes away early this morning,” and asked my husband, “Did Jack die?”
He replied with another question, “He did?”
Then, as we sat side-by-side with our cups of coffee, it came across again.
As the sad news set in, I felt my eyes moisten up and my throat close. A tear slipped out between my lashes and I said, “I don’t know why I’m crying, I didn’t know the man.”
The thing is, most of us have grieved the loss of someone we don’t know at some point in our lives.
In the 90s, a lot of young people grieved the loss of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.
Some parents were perplexed at the depth of their child’s grief and wondered how they could be so upset about a person they never met not realizing Cobain stood for many things that the youth of this time embraced.
I remember when John Lennon was murdered, feeling shock and disbelief that evolved into the realization that someone I related to and enjoyed being entertained by was gone.
As individuals, we grieve these losses for different reasons. I am grieving the loss of Jack for many of my own.
It doesn’t matter if you agreed with his politics or not, there is no disputing that this was a passionate and gifted man.
He was a true Canadian and represented what many of us aspire to be; focused, accepting, strong and willing to stand behind what we believe.
The sight of Olivia Chow at her husband’s casket in the rotunda brought me to tears once again. The strength she displayed was amazing and unlike most of us, she is grieving in a very public arena.
We can only hope that she and their family have found some comfort in the outpouring of love and respect for Jack. Albeit, it is small consolation but there is strength in numbers and collectively, we can all send some positive energy that way.
It goes to show what compassionate people we really are when we allow ourselves to mourn the loss of someone who may have influenced us, entertained us, or set such a great example of how to be a good person.
I will miss Jack Layton and I’m sure many others will to.
Thank you Jack and farewell; we’ll see you on the other side.
– Barbara Bleiler is a certified funeral celebrant and advertising representative for the Grand Forks Gazette