The Blog

Bieber, Thatcher and Dealing with Death

Justin Bieber raised eyebrows this week at the Anne Frank museum, when he said he hoped the Holocaust victim would have been a 'belieber'.

With news that the police have granted protestors the right to turn their backs on Margaret Thatcher's coffin during the funeral procession, moral questions arise about how we respond to death as a society.

Having lost my best friend to a brain tumour, I find myself thinking about how I would respond to public - or even private - ridicule following the death. How would I react if someone sung 'Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead', minutes after the news came?

In the beautiful film, Griefwalker, a terminally ill lady shares her fear that her husband and children will break up as a family after her passing. Steven Jenkinson, the 'Griefwalker' and palliative care specialist, softly says 'The table you set is going to determine the food they eat now.'

All of our words and actions lay the table of our legacies. Bieber's ill thought out words say more about the young man's own journey, than that of Anne Frank. But so does his choice to visit a Holocaust museum on a Friday night in Amsterdam.

The angry voices surrounding Margaret Thatcher's death reflect that not everyone enjoyed the table laid by the former Prime Minister. And that's okay. As a friend once said to me 'all things to all people is nothing to everyone.'

I would like to think that I would not be swayed by ridicule at my best friend's death. The table he left for me was so beautiful, the food so sweet - that would suffice. I would also realise that those who mock, celebrate, joke or jibe at other's deaths, are setting their own tables with their daily words and deeds. Whether they will be remembered for laying tables of dignity and respect in 70 or 700 years is yet to be seen. But I somehow doubt it.