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In Need of Healing

June 17, 2011

I find conversation over tea or coffee to be healing. And I know me and all of Vancouver need some healing right now. 

M. and I sat on the couch last night, silent except for the occasional sip from our (larger than usual) wine glasses. We knew what the other was feeling, but stumbled over how to put it into words. Finally I said “I feel like I’ve lost something, an innocence or faith in people, and now I’m in mourning.”

Friends I’ve talked to and people who are quoted in newspaper articles seem to all be saying the same thing following Wednesday’s riots in downtown Vancouver. We are grieving what could have been, and mourning the loss of our belief in each other.

This loss is so devastating because leading up to Wednesday, the comradery in the city was at a high similar to when the Olympics were in town. Strangers were high-fiving each other and giving each other thumbs up signs simply for the fact that they were both wearing Canucks shirts. Someone downtown would walk into a crowd with a Canucks flag tied to a hockey stick and the whole crowd would cheer and clap. Business men wore Canucks jerseys over their suits, and would bend over to give a high five to toddlers and their parents who grinned while wearing the #1 on their backs. With so much joviality and friendliness going around the city since the playoffs began in April, it was a shock to suddenly see people who would have cheered along side you flipping police cars, setting fires to garbage cans and looting businesses.

In the aftermath one wants to think of the people were rioting as wolves in sheep’s clothing, not ‘real’ fans, not ‘real’ Vancouverites, not people like us. We want to believe we were duped or tricked,  that the hooligans had evil intentions all along and were hiding in plain sight. We don’t want to face the fact that sometimes people, even people we know and see on a regular basis, do horrible things. We want to separate ourselves from the people who looted stores and trashed businesses by saying we would never do that, they aren’t like us.

But they are. In the end, Wednesday night’s riots and atrocities were committed by humans, the same as we are- humans who were born, who grew up in various life situations, humans who need to eat and sleep same as we do.

And that sameness makes it all the harder to deal with actions we don’t understand.

I wish I could end this by saying there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that things will get better and the city will go back to being the same it was before. But grief is not simple and doesn’t respond well to simple platitudes of “cheer up!” Grief is complicated and it affects everyone differently. The only thing that will help is time, and often grief takes longer to subside than you expect. Even years after you have come to terms with it, sometimes it will hit you out of nowhere and tears will sting your eyes again and your heart will again break.

The one thing I ask you to remember, each and every person from Vancouver, is that you are not alone in your mourning and your grief. Console each other and help each other to rebuild. Reach out into your community and help it to move forward. Friendship and community are the only way we can overcome what has happened.

 

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2011 11:05 am

    beautiful post. xx

  2. June 18, 2011 3:07 am

    I am so glad to see this post, I felt the same way after seeing the videos of the riots on BBC. I was devastated to see the aftermath of the game but it was encouraging to see how people helped to clean up the morning after. It was sweet to see how we all cared so much about our lovely city.
    x

  3. June 20, 2011 7:05 pm

    It’s hard to see such things, very thoughtful post. I do love your photo a lot.

  4. Ashley Erin permalink*
    June 22, 2011 8:34 pm

    Thank you all for your comments on this. I was a bit nervous posting this, but I’m glad it was able to help others and that it was meaningful to people.

  5. July 22, 2011 8:17 am

    i am canadian, yet i cannot understand why such things happen here. why is dissapointment handled in this way, does anyone feel guilty. i am stirred now.

    thank you for writing the way you do.

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