The Grenada Revolution Online

Reconciliation

Resolution of Grief

The resolution of grief is a difficult matter. It feels uncomfortable to put a voice to tragedy. We don't necessarily want to bring our feelings of grief to a complete close, but rather want those feelings to be shared and respected. We want others to recognize our pain. We wish others to see how heartbreak came to people; notably ourselves. We want someone to hear us.

Too often something like this happens:

A woman loses her little child in an accident. The loss feels to her like she was responsible because she did not protect her child. This feeling is a valid feeling, although the truth is that the mother was far away from the child when the accident occurred. Here we have the split between true feeling and the truth. The mother is already involved in a kind of globally complicit guilt. Back-track feelings of guilt most always accompanies grief and loss. A feeling of guilt over just plain being alive is also an element.

The mother's supporters help her during her immediate period of grief. But then they fall away from her side. No one wants to bring up the subject of the death or discuss the child because they are afraid the mother will break down into tears and be upset. Often she responds in this manner. Supporters are thwarted from approaching the mother even though the mother might feel good after breaking down; certainly feeling better after sharing her tragedy with another person.

It appears a process of dealing with grief has similarly happened in post-Revolutionary Grenada, 19 years after the October, 1983 tragedies. In general, people feel that grief and death, not to speak of some kind of cancer, is catching.

Hurt and pain have been contained by the enormity of realization about the national emotional breakdown. Things too horrible to think of silences talk - like how could Grenadians kill each other? How could 'bad times', a Grenadian asks, be underwritten by other people's 'good times?' Was the dream of the Revo delusional? These are relative words - good and bad - but behind them is the pain of why is my son dead and you are alive?

In the example of the mother above, people are fearful of the personal pain they could stir up. And one forgets the details. Memory fades. Perhaps this is a way to forget? No one wants to talk about it. People will dismiss you with remarks about why do you have to bring up that old stuff again.

Some people will, when pressed, go into detail about everything that happened to them at such and such a time. This is a breakthrough, this sharing. This is a start at national healing, a countrywide dialogue. Even though the emotional pain remains strong, there is a kind of release when one remembers, or is reminded of elusive information from the past.

The sadness envelopes those who feel loss and that sadness is carried on until their lifeblood is no more.

The rituals associated with death are missing in Grenada for many people who have not been able to determine the location of the remains of the bodies of their lost loved ones. Even if torn to shreds, people want to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones. The body is an ultimate symbol of the person who has passed on. One's subconscious cannot believe their loved one has died until they see a body. Simple as that.

The Young Leaders of Presentation Brothers College 2000 and 2002 in Grenada published a booklet titled "Under the Cover of Darkness," 2002. The study is an attempt to answer the question:

What happened to the bodies of those who died on Fort Rupert 19 October 1983?

In lieu of a body, a marker sets the spiritual place for the loved one to rest.

The tradition of making permanent the memory of dead national heroes through monuments and statues is minimal in Grenada. Some believe the lack of monument as markers of memory is a national shame.

The only source for exact data of who died during the days of October 25 and following is from the Cuban Government about those 24 Cubans who died on Grenadian soil. The Grenadian government has no exact statistics. One has to pull teeth to discover exactly and especially under what terms U.S. service people died on Grenadian soil. There is a list of names at the Grenada Memorial moved to the True Blue Campus of St. George's University, but are the soldiers who died from ‘friendly fire’ or accidents listed?

Leaving the matter of hurt and pain in the shadows, justice and vengeance are in the mix.

Justice, some think, brings restitution. Justice never rights wrongs, but extends the pain to one more person.

Monologue from Hatred to Reconciliation

Consider the following as an example of an interior monologue about the tragedies of October 19, 1983:

Because you broke my heart by being responsible for the loss of someone I loved and admired, you must stay in jail until you die. Because you turned my hopes and dreams for our country into a sham of what Grenada could be, you must stay in jail until you die. Because you stole my soul away and left me in bitterness, you must stay in jail until you die. I have hated you enough to be satisfied with a lifetime sentence. And when that did not happen, I was enraged.

Have you ever hated anyone enough to want to kill them? I've thought about hatred, about my deep and abiding loathing. I realize my hate, anger and resentment is eating away at my heart and soul. These emotions are ugly and I don't like to be reminded of them. My love for another was curbed, cut off by your act of irresponsibility. My hopes and dreams and wishes were dashed to the ground. And my hatred is a hard place in my heart.

My hatred does not take me anywhere. I know this vile anger is hurting me. My anger over you has power over my own emotional state. I can only go so far with my anger because I have to turn all of you into ciphers, into blanks. As far as I am concerned, I see you as victims of some Leninist malaise, as dupes of the Leader Comrades, into whatever - you figure this out. When you really hate someone you turn that person or those persons into exaggerations of themselves. I have turned all you into arrogant bastards who only know how to mouth the dead concepts of Lenin and Marx and Stalin. Whatever else you know about what happened, you sure aren't telling us!

I have turned you all into conniving deceivers who will do anything to be free and destabilize our country - even pretend you found God.

Yes, I follow on these things. I don't give the court cases any mind. That is not the point, and you keep hammering that legal justice is the point. Seems is like you believe in the law. ‘The law is an ass, an idiot,’ Dickens said. You assume there is justice in the law, or even in this world.

I know I am not really seeing you, and I don't want to. This is why I resent hearing how well you are doing in your studies, how you have kept your political correctness and how you are supposedly giving your talents to others not so fortunate as you. You are patronizing conspirators to this very day.

I will not let anyone tell me anything that would cause me to imagine what life in prison was like for you. You are on my mind, yet I do not want to be reminded of you. And you certainly did not help your situation with long-winded, coded language of how you were so sorry. I would not listen to tales of breakdowns of mediation efforts, of Selwyn Strachan and George Louison running about trying to bridge gaps in communication, of things becoming totally unhinged. I am totally without mercy.

I resisted an appeal to me for reconciliation regarding your situation. And none of you helped matters in any way by avoiding talk of any weakness, doubts and dumb mistakes. Face it, didn't you mess things up beyond all reckoning?

But then things began to shift for me . . .

It finally began to creep in on me that I was beginning to make an effort in picturing how you were aging. Isn't that strange? Little by little, visions were come into my mind when I would wonder about how it was in there with you - Austin working with the plants, Stroude and Cornwall studying theology, those sharing their photographs of loved one. How will I feel when the first one of you dies? The recent deaths of Rudolph Ogilvie, Kendrick Radix and George Louison remind me of how soon we all are going to truly be gone.

I don't think my opinion is a matter of me wanting to be fair, or forgiving, or being humane. I realize there are three criteria for forgiveness. I think about how and if you have fulfilled them. They are acknowledgement, and regret, and reform. I am not assured on any of these points about any of you, and indeed you present a united front. How am I to forgive the seemingly unforgivable?

I think the shift came in my thinking about you when I began to suppose about you and to read history and to find out that you weren't so different from me. There but for the grace of God go I. I was fed up with my negativity.

You weren't all that different from me. When I let myself know about you, the shift began for me. By looking at you as demons, I was closing down any possibility of changing my one-way gaze. Now I began to want to speak to you and to listen to you and think about you and this shifted my response.

Once the plain injustice of your situation was compared to other issues that concerned me, once you became my peer, in my mind, you became human. Once I could imagine a walk in your shoes, I could understand that you were capable of mistakes and suffering just like me. Maybe you all weren't such monsters.

Maybe all of us are hurting because of our divisions for over two decades. Perhaps the best legacy of our lives for Grenada is to reconcile our differences. I will forgive. I aim to rid my heart of the hatred of resentment. I will not forget.

When I began feeling this way, opening some door to possibility, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed in Grenada.

The TRC did not work. I ask you where was Grenada's Bishop Tutu? Sorry I was left to reconcile this on my own.

See what happened or did not happen in the TRC Report below . . .

The TRC Report

Other writings:

Nadia Bishop on forgiveness and reconciliation

Scroll down within the article for COMMENTS on forgiveness and reconciliation by Mervyn Claxton

Forgiveness is quite different from forgetting. Tragedies are never forgotten. I can, though, be thankful I have given up my negative feelings. The perpetrators can live with their own demons.

Consider this thought by Mark Twain:

Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds
on the heel that has crushed it.


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