Monday, July 18, 2016

#SOL16: Borderless Grief and the RNC

gesso, acrylic paint, Rob's writing, (M.A. Reilly, 2016)

Grief knows no borders.

It spreads insidiously swamping your life and when fueled, flames out of control.  I know this firsthand and was reminded of the perversion of grief as I viewed the Republican National Convention (RNC). It's easy to take advantage of the grieving for anything that lessens such pain is seductive.  It's a siren call we all want to answer and being able to talk about the loved one and his or her death is a call few can resist.

We talk out loud to make sense of what confounds us still.

But setting up such fragile people to tell these stories as narratives of blame is a false balm for at best this only serves to further indenture the grieving to their pain and the past. There is no grace in blame, especially false blame.  There is no redemption in telling such stories.


I thought about this perversion as I listened to Pat Smith's brief speech at the RNC where she blamed Hillary Clinton personally for her son's death. I thought about this as the two more moms, Mary Ann Mendoza and Sabine Durden, whose sons each died in car accidents and Jamiel Shaw, whose son was killed in a gang shooting spoke blaming their children's death on our President. And as I listened what I mostly thought was Shame on the RNC for exploiting these people's grief and for thinking they could also exploit our tenderness. 

None of us want to bear witness to a parent's raw grief. But even in our most tender moment, we know it is simply an error to blame either Secretary Clinton or President Obama for these deaths. It is just wrong by the RNC to set up these four parents to tell stories that lack the necessary logic to even appear true.


After the camera was no longer trained on these parents, I wondered how they felt. After the high of talking to a national audience was gone, I wondered if there wasn't a profound sense of emptiness that settled about each of them. Filling yourself with hate will not lessen grief no matter how much such relief is sought.

I feel for these four as I imagine you do too.  For how could we not?  Resettling life after a loved one's death feels impossible. The life known exists no more. What is most desired cannot be given, cannot be had. Those in the depth of grief struggle to make sense of loss--loss that is largely irrational. The desire to blame some 'other' is common, if not expected.  And it is this natural inclination, perhaps even need, to seek a rational reason for the death that the RNC exploited.

Exploiting such vulnerability in order to create false linkages among death, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama is a truly shameful act by the RNC. We are better than this, friends.


  1. I agree, and feel compassion for the families and anger at the politicians who exploit such loss.

  2. Agreed Mary Ann and written powerfully, beautifully.

  3. Mary Ann, You remind me over and over again, that being human and raw in grief, when allowed (allowing yourself) to experience it fully is to lovingly be with yourself, and in so doing, with the palette of emotions. To be with what is so instead of bringing yet more fear, hatred/anger, violence, divisive and separation consciousness. To lovingly hold, and allow others to lovingly hold us, when we are full of the kind of experiences and emotions that can either lead us to externalizing/deluding ourselves by blaming others, or help us to surrender to the circle of life and that which we can and cannot control. Ah,to know that the power is within us and that when we blame we give up our power, any semblance of control that we may otherwise have.


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