Thursday, February 10, 2011

No-one I know has ever died in a plane crash

About an hour ago, the title of this post ceased to be true for me.  I feel very strange.  There was a plane crash in Ireland this morning and all day I was kind of half keeping an eye on the breaking news to make sure no-one I knew was affected (my sister's in-laws are from Cork as well as a good friend's family).  But since I couldn't really think of anyone who would need to be flying from Belfast to Cork, I wasn't paying that much attention.  And then saw the headline and realised that one of the six dead is someone I used to work with.  I'm a little bit in shock I think and this is one instance where I am feeling the big cultural difference between Germany and Ireland.  Two people happened to be in my office when I read it and, knowing at least one of them would have worked with him on a project a couple of years ago I told them (well, I also said 'fuck' and possibly 'shit' quite loudly when I read it - what can I say, my first reactions to anything shocking are almost always going to involve curse words) so they realised something was up.  And I got nearly zero reaction.  And then they went off about their business.  In Ireland there would most likely have been a bit of chat, "who?", "where was he from, which one was he again?", "oh yeah, I know him"... ... ... kind of like a six degrees of separation thing.  And it doesn't matter that you're talking crap, it's all about , I don't know, processing the information and at least spending a couple of minutes talking about the now dead person, which is of course not giving any more meaning to their life but at least it's, well, I suppose, sort of acknowledging them.  Or something.  Sorry, it's hard to explain and I've never really spent time thinking about it.

He was a lovely guy, quiet and gentle in any dealings I had with him.  We sat not too far away from each other for a year or so and then he moved to the Belfast office so I only saw him a couple of times a month when he was back down and looking for a desk for the day.  But we'd almost always have a bit of a chat.  And the first time I went back to Dublin after moving here, he happened to be there and we had a lovely chat as well.  But that's kind of the way things are in Ireland and not so much in an office (at least not in my office) in Germany.  That was nearly two years ago and I haven't seen or talked to him since.  And yet, I'm still feeling sad.  My heart goes out to everyone who lost a loved one on that flight today.  If the way I feel about someone I barely knew is this horrible, I cannot imagine how distressing it must be to lose someone you love in such a sudden, shocking way.  R.I.P.


melanie said...

I think it is always weird when some one you sort-of know dies. I mean, sometimes it feels like you aren't even allowed to grieve for them because you were that close but I think that is totally wrong. Of course you are going to feel sad and upset and I think it is too bad that people at your work don't deal with things they way you want to but I guess that is the cultural difference you have to deal with.

(I hope this comment makes sense. I'm totally sleep deprived these days and writing this on my phone while nursing.)

Albedo said...

Thank you for sharing your feelings so honestly; I'm not sure I'd want to admit to the swear words. Irish folk are generally lovely, Southern Irish especially. My son-in-law hails from Cork and has many family scattered around the city, so perhaps he knew someone on that plane too.
Every tragedy we hear about is boring for some people but suddenly disastrous if we are personally affected.
I hope I never become too blasé to care about the friends and family who are left to grieve after such headlines.
Many Blessings.

stayathomemummy said...

Really sorry to hear that you knew someone involved. I personally find it disrespectful when people try to ignore such a highly emotional and upsetting subject especially if they knew the person too. I think the fact that you were upset and moved by the news speaks volumes about the person who died - as you say if you feel like this then his close friends and family will be devestated.
Take comfort in the fact that you have stopped and thought about him today, remarked what a nice person he was and spared some time to send thoughts (and prayers?) to the family.
Things like this make me reassess my life as you never know what life will deal you and you should always be living it to the full!
Best wishes