For 96 people to die in what was intended to be an enjoyable and exciting sporting event is tragic enough, but the recently published inquiry report adds a new layer of tragedy by revealing how the victims were vilified and how efforts were made to conceal the truth. By coincidence, on the day the report was published I was running a training course on loss and grief. We had been discussing how major losses can seriously disrupt our framework of meaning and leave us feeling confused, insecure and vulnerable. We looked at how grief can be understood as a painful process of constructing new meanings, developing a new ‘narrative’. Often events or the actions of others can block the development of that narrative by standing in the way of our efforts to make sense of what has happened. No doubt for many of the Hillsborough families, if not all of them, waiting for the truth has been just such an obstacle. What the report reveals adds an extra layer of tragedy, but the fact that the injustices involved have now been made public, things can move forward, not only in terms of the pursuit of justice, but also in the process of mourning.
My wife and daughter were recently at the Beamish Open Air Museum on the day that a 7-year-old boy was killed in a tragic accident. We all know that death comes to us all eventually, but for a child to die is very different, and for him to die in a place of leisure and education seems particularly misplaced somehow. Many people bemoan the fact that they are growing old. Perhaps we should rejoice about the fact that we have been given the opportunity to, as sadly not everybody is.