COLUMN: There has to be a mourning after

I remember much of our conversation and I remember saying goodbye, but most vividly I remember the view out the window as I spent my last few hours with my father.

remember much of our conversation and I remember saying goodbye, but most vividly I remember the view out the window as I spent my last few hours with my father.

It was 16 years ago, and I still recall watching from on high in the Peace Arch Hospital palliative-care ward, as people continued to drive by and others strolled down Russell Avenue, seemingly without a care in the world – as mine, as I knew it, ended.

Death, while not always sudden, hits hard when there are those left behind. Some lives fade with public mourning, others with little fanfare. These disparities sometimes reflect the impact the loved ones had on the world but are rarely indicative of their significance for the individual.

Thoughts of this unfairness raised its head again last month, when I learned federal NDP Leader Jack Layton had succumbed to cancer.

For what seemed an eternity in this Internet age, media sites – social and mainstream – were filled with very public lamenting of Canada’s loss, many seeming to backhandedly denounce his political views but maintain his status as a political demigod.

No disrespect intended for Layton’s loved ones, but the day the news came down I was more concerned about the welfare of a friend and co-worker who was undergoing a very serious operation. By day’s end, I learned publisher Linda Klitch’s operation was a success, her pancreatic tumour was benign, and we were rejoicing, all but sure she would be back in our workaday lives in a few weeks time.

Oh, how fate can play nasty.

As it turned out – and as my publisher’s multitude of fans already know – her surgery suffered complications and she died last week, amid accolades normally reserved for statesmen and royalty.

Klitch was by no means our community’s only loss over the past few days. And I’m guessing there might be one or two readers who question why they were reading so much about one person’s demise, when whomever they mourn meant so much more in their day-to-day lives.

There is nothing fair about news coverage when dealing with death. Some of it’s perception, some of it’s circumstantial and, regrettably, some of it’s timing.

News media – indeed the public’s attention – appear ensnared by a person’s story when it seems untimely or under unconventional circumstances.

Here, at the Peace Arch News, we endeavour to tell as many stories of people’s passing as come to us. Some survivors prefer to mourn in private, others prefer to share their memories of loved ones with the masses.

While we sometimes get accused of ghoulish, tabloid-like behaviour when we contact family members so soon after unexpected tragedies, just as often we find relatives expressing appreciation for being able to tell their community of its loss.

And while telling such stories can take their toll on the writers as we share our subjects’ heartache, we as reporters have an innate need to tell these stories.

And inside, I feel that by highlighting one death and virtually ignoring another – as we regretfully must do – we aren’t fulfilling our sense of obligation.

None of this is to take away from Layton, Klitch or any of the others whose passing has captured attention en masse these past few months.

It is meant merely to note that every death creates a void. And that we recognize there are too many stories we haven’t shared, while the world passes by.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police warn of ‘dangerous’ sex offender, with ‘high risk to re-offend,’ living in Surrey

Howard Geddes-Skelding, 28, was released from BC Corrections Aug. 14, Surrey RCMP say

Surrey students paint mural, paying homage to First Nations, at SkyTrain station

Artwork to showcase ‘positivity and racial inclusivity in the city’

PHOTOS: Residents showcased as ‘companion’ sculpture unveiled

Amica White Rock welcomes bronze guardian, celebrates resident talent

Homemade explosives detonated in South Surrey

Police asking public for help identifying those responsible

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

PHOTOS/VIDEO: Wings and Wheels set for weekend lift-off in Abbotsford

Fundraiser to raise money for Crystal Gala Foundation and the fight against breast cancer

Undercover video shows alleged animal abuse at Fraser Valley egg farm

One employee wearing logo of Chilliwack chicken-catching company already facing abuse charges

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

Most Read