This week a man got up in the morning and went to work and never came home. He died doing what he loved best in a place that was very special to him. It was a freak workplace accident. This terrible series of events happened in more than one place on the planet. This particular case has left an international community of cricket lovers in mourning.
Simple acts and rituals started to emerge as fans, friends and family worked out how to express their shock and grief. Enabled by imagination, technology, passion and deep knowledge of the game these expressions have touched me and millions of others … and reminded me of the humanity of the herd.
Some of the acts are:
- young cricketers all retiring their innings this weekend at 63 – the score the batsman was out when felled
- using #putoutyourbats to accompany photos of bats leaning against wickets, gates, doors – a solitary weeping willow graced Australian Google
- suggesting the young felled cricketer be named 12th man the next time his team goes to play
All self-organised – no committee, no direction from authority – people authorising themselves, taking up their own power to act. The cultural power of sport and grief coming together is phenomenal.
This deep, deep desire to name and claim, that which is deepest inside of us, is a universal truth. When death comes, our capacity to mourn what has gone is insatiable and sometimes surprising. We pine for one last kiss, one last hug, one last innings. We give thanks that we won’t have to bear the horror, the hurt, the violence any longer. We ache to see a smile, share a laugh, glance into eyes with no words needed. Whatever forms our mourning takes – grief comes, knocks us off our feet and may even hit us for a six.
We can support those in grief, by holding their hands, wiping their brows, reminiscing, giving hugs and putting out our bats. These gestures draw us closer, without appropriating, to the sadness of those at the centre of the loss. That space is unique and intimate and can only be occupied by the one at the crease – the rest of us are in the stands.