Moving Forward in Times of Grief

It’s been two weeks since the earthquake hit Japan and I’m struggling to find my place. Vancouver has been my home for six years. From the friends I’ve made to the food I eat, Japanese culture has become a part of my world.

So what can I do when I hear the news? There are the small things – I change my Facebook profile picture to a Japanese flag, I share information about fundraisers within the city, but beyond that it’s hard to find something more. It’s hard to go on tweeting, blogging, and doing all my daily tasks, and sometimes I find myself frustrated with just how normal everything feels. It seems to me the shock and silence should remain… longer.

Still, technology has  made relieved the stress somewhat. Twitter has proven itself highly effective for contacting loved ones – reports say that Twitter helped people find each other faster than the Red Cross or phone lines, as has Facebook. Google had also enabled PeopleFinder, which connects voice messages and web posts that might bring together family members.  There is also this piece, however, which warns about social media leading to misinformation and panic in times of crisis. Still, Twitter can mislead people into thinking that because they post about non-serious things, their deeper opinions do not get a platform (not everyone blogs, and there isn’t enough time to keep up with posts as well as through Twitter).

It’s also quite probable technology has given people around the world more exposure to just how devastating the disaster has been. Canadians have donated $5 million dollars for the Red Cross’s relief efforts. SFU students have created fundraisers to raise money. I suppose my real quip is with feeling myself so physically distant from those I’d like to help.

Some say that that’s the nature of things – the world is large, after all. What I may criticize as being “too normal” is people moving on, surviving and doing the tasks their own lives demand. I suppose it’s because of the resilience of the our race we’ve made it this far, and Japan has demonstrated incredible strength, solidarity and compassion for one another during the aftermath. Japan will be in my thoughts and I admire its peoples’ courage as they build back all that has been destroyed. That is the best I can express my feelings – the rest cannot be put into words.

Image credit: The Telegraph

By Sonya Reznitsky