Every once in awhile this blogger has to be reminded of the new cultural order; to be reminded that this is the new age, the age where everyone is a victim and where there is any evidence of trauma it is followed by the need for counselling. Anxiety is the new lifeblood; life counsellors, death counsellors, trauma counsellors, all part of a growth industry. Counsellors of all shapes and sizes now held up as the new absolutely necessary guides to carry us through this selfie driven world. Unable to deal with a situation? No worries, there is a help line for you.
We go even further now, now imbuing whole communities with human characteristics: “the town” is “in shock”, the community is “grieving”, the city is “living in fear”.
To counter these ailments, the pundits, the journalists and the psychologists advise there is the ever increasing need for “closure”.
“This should bring closure to the community”….
“This should bring closure to the families”…
“this should bring closure ____” ( fill in the blank with a person or a place)
Closure, closure, closure. It has now joined the annals of the most repeated and misplaced with those other words like “diversity” or “reconciliation”.
It has been uttered and repeated thousands of times and the most recent trigger has been the discovery of the two individuals responsible for the three killings in B.C.
The social order has to be restored, there is the need for healing, as two desperate and disturbed youth, Kam Macleod and Bryer Schmegelsky have been found and identified. They were rotting in the bush, in a remote part of Manitoba, a long way from Port Alberni.
The orchestra of grief on hearing the news, warms up, and within a few hours is in full throttle. The message needed to change, no longer was this a hunt for fugitives, now we had entered into the phase where everyone needed “closure”.
In the last few few weeks all had become enraptured by the homicide of three innocents in northern B.C. The search and the theories grew with each passing day as journalists burned up Whats App and Facetime with reputed experts, all of whom knew nothing and added nothing to the conversation. Even ‘Mantracker’ offered up the opinion– that they were in the woods, escaped from the woods, or were dead. Pretty safe bet, but apparently riveting journalism.
The public and whatever retired detectives could be found fuelled the speculation with more speculation.
Therefore the ending, because of this massive buildup was unsatisfactory –at least to the rapt arm chair Sherlocks and viewers of the 6 oclock news.
Not great for the future ratings.
The pair apparently were not willing to face a rather limited and dark future, not wanting to return to a society that somehow never worked for them, so they took the easy way out. It was a pretty common ending to this kind of case, but how dare they.
What sustained this possibly sociopathic relationship seems to have been some sort of twisted bond shared over coffee breaks working at Wal Mart. All hard to understand at an initial glance, but there is little doubt that the dysfunction ran deep and may come out as time goes on.
As evidence of that, the father wrote a book apparently while his son was running with blood on his hands, running for his life, and as it turns out his eventual death. It was now that Dad apparently took the time and had the ability to sit at a desk and type out his life story explaining how the world had made him a victim too.
A type written selfie, his 15 minutes of fame now extended.
Yes, the dysfunction is there, it usually is, likely to be strip-mined by anyone willing to undertake the process.
But everything has now changed in the public forums.
With no shoot out, or video capture, to entice the viewing internet the narrative had to change course. It was now about the need for healing. Everyone after all needs “closure”.
The mayor of Gillam Dwayne Forman said, “If you see someone that is holding it in, just make sure you let them know that help is available, and bring them to the help, or bring the help to them. One way or another we have to heal as a community”.
Grand Chief Garrison Settee speaking for the nearby Cree community where the two were found said, “for the indigenous culture, the land is our way of healing ourselves, now they can go back to the land and they can go back to that and that will bring the healing for their minds and spirits. “
As one who by choice and by circumstance was surrounded for many years with victims of violence –suspects who had committed violence, and all those secondary individuals who had somehow been touched by the violence; here is my take.
There is no such thing as “closure”.
It is the one characteristic particular to murder; there is no finality. Murder is a fascination to those of us that worked in this environment, partly because murder can never be fully understood.
Senseless death is incomprehensible to the casual observer, but unfathomable to those in that family circle or close to the situation. Everything in the lives that have been in direct contact with this case, from this point forward, will be viewed through the prism of death.
They will be forever haunted by the nature of the death, and the unsatisfying outcome.
There will not be a day, a couple of hours maybe, where they do not think of those that died. Families will break apart, couples will divorce, brothers and sisters will develop latent psychological issues –all because of a single act of violence.
The condolences will flow in, neighbours will deliver dinners to ease the family daily existence, but slowly that will stop. There will be funerals, eulogies, women in black dresses and veils, pews filled with incomprehending children. But that too will end.
The affected will then be left alone with their gruesome nightmares, trying to cope with daily existence –a going through the motions life– one where even inanimate objects reminds them of someone gone.
The religious buoyed by their leaders, will attempt to ease their suffering by pretending in their belief that there is a place where the victims can look down and be with them, comforting them in their disquiet.
Trying to cope will be never ending, a chapter turned maybe, but the book itself will never end.
For the alleged killers, their families will suffer as well. Forever tainted, forever in ignominy.
They will never escape the “look” by other townspeople.
School or work mates will be seen as having wrongly befriended the two. It will be a point of reference, a point of infamy, of having known either of the boys.
The parents of the two will be seen as having birthed and raised two children; two children who as semi-adults were capable of cold blooded murder. Nurture versus nature. People will point, snicker, but always turn away. People will drive by their houses, as if part of a Hollywood tour group, identifying the now forever damned houses as places where a satanic mind must have been hatched.
The parents of the suspects will be identified just like the Salem witches, but they will not be offered a trial to prove their innocence, to prove their inability to stop what happened. They will live forever behind closed doors.
Both sets of parents on polar ends of the spectrum, victim and suspect families will point at each other, often accusing, replaying a mistake that was made, an error in judgement, which in some sort of obscure tangential way, may have added to this outcome.
For the police the file will not end even though they do have an outcome. Behind closed doors, they will breathe a sigh of somewhat twisted relief having avoided going to trial to and proving their case in full scrutiny of the courts. God forbid there would be an acquittal. The justice system itself has averted some costly litigation, but the file will not end.
There will be exhibits, continued tips that need to be followed up on, further secondary and maybe pointless inquiries still to be done. When that is complete, the file will stick around for annual reviews and possible updates. Some officers who were left holding the case will spend months just sorting and filing the information.
For the rest of us, life goes on pretty much how it was before. We will try and ease those odd pangs of regret and the social media will be filled with expressions of sympathy, round faced emojis with streaming tears, hearts and flowers exuding empathy. All will opine that now, finally, there will be “closure”. Some may even start up a ‘go fund’ me site, which seems to be the latest panacea and repository for misplaced guilt.
The only closure is for the media as it needs a bow to be tied around the present that this story was for them.
These practised and knee-jerk anxieties seem somehow disingenuous. They may even be insulting to those truly hurting; to those who wake up every night in a cold sweat, replaying their child’s moment of gruesome death. For them there is no end in sight, no counsellor, no spirits, that will relieve their torment.
Life amongst the living is not always easy and death is never easy.
Violent death is obscure, secretive, and often profound and the grief is unrelenting.
Photo courtesy of Robert Dill via Flickr Commons – the 9/11 Memorial some Rights Reserved