Can’t risk living to bring back dead

Tom was only 20 weeks old when he died.

We were in hospital at the time and among the formalities which had to be completed was signing a form giving permission for a post mortem.

I had no objection to that. I was at least as anxious as the medical staff to find a cause of the brain disorder which killed him and I waited with increasing desperation for the results.

It was a very long wait. We passed the 20 week mark after his death so he’d been dead longer than he’d been alive and still the post mortem report didn’t come.

The longer we waited the more I focussed on the results but when the letter finally came it was an anti-climax and a disappointment. The investigations undertaken after his death told us no more than the results of the numerous tests Tom had endured during his life.

In hindsight I realise that it wasn’t just the absence of any answers to our questions of what had caused Tom’s illness, which upset me. It was that focussing on the post mortem results had led me down a by way off the grieving highway. The letter brought me to a dead end and forced me to accept there wasn’t going to be a happy-ever-after there. The son we had loved was dead and with him died the hopes and dreams we’d had for his future which we hadn’t even been aware of until we lost him and them.

The report on which I’d put so much importance was nothing more than a reminder I had to return to the main road, come to terms with Tom’s death and get on with living.

All that a long time ago now, more than 20 years, but reports on the desperation of the families of the men who died in the Pike River mine remind me of how I felt.

Anguish and anger are natural and normal reactions to the tragic deaths of their men and wanting to get them back is understandable. But even if, after two explosions and subsequent fire, there is something to bring back, it won’t by itself make anything better. The families are stuck down a side road, waiting as I was. Whatever they might have when the waiting is over it won’t be what they want which is the living men they remember and for whom they grieve.

Nobody could have told me I was waiting in vain and I don’t expect the Pike River families to give up on the hope a recovery operation could, and belief it should, be undertaken.

However, those responsible for the mine can’t be swayed be the strong and understandable emotions of those who grieve. No matter what the bereaved families think and feel, the living can’t be put at risk to bring back the dead.

4 Responses to Can’t risk living to bring back dead

  1. Linda Reid says:

    Thank you Ele – you said it better than I could have. I have also felt that the demands to send living people into danger to bring out the bodies was emotionally understandable, but just plain wrong. What a horrible mess this has turned out to be. I suspect all because of misplaced priorities right from before the mine was dug.


  2. gravedodger says:

    Well said Ele your POV on this has all the empathy and understanding of one who has walked there, so thankyou.

    I cannot but wonder if there is an unrequited gulf of assistance required for some of those suffering the loss of loved ones at Pike River and also many who are struggling with the aftermath of the devastation of the Quakes many of them are grieving also.
    The inquiries of the two disasters are causing untold disruption to many of the survivors
    The media seem, to one with the training I have been privileged to have had, to be too often in pursuit of “news” and “headlines’ , reporters unwittingly taking people to a “blind alley” of grief of which there are more than one, and then walking away and leaving them to find a way out.
    The stages of grief are reasonably clear although the progression through them can be very muddled all too often. All the stages of grief must be dealt with although some will spend varying times and involvement with each of them.

    Again thankyou for a very good post. Poignant is the word.


  3. fredinthegrass says:

    I feel very privileged to read your blogs, Hp. Along with your commenters you offer a clear and reasoned position on difficult subjects that fill the void left by MSM.
    Trying to understand the complex raft of events and their aftermath is made so much easier for those of us who find the “news” of little value.
    Because its real people who are affected raw emotion is to the fore. You clear away the detritus and leave us with a better understanding of, and empathy toward, those involved. Thank you.


  4. homepaddock says:

    Thank you Linda, GD and Fred.


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