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Fateful moments and the discourses of grief
journal contributionposted on 2004-01-01, 00:00 authored by David Ritchie
This paper is concerned with the ways in which language functions in our making sense of death and loss, not only with the use of euphemisms for death, but also the wider discourses which frame meanings and understandings. Many bystanders and commentators on September 11, 2001, for example, likened the impact of the planes on the towers, and their subsequent collapse as “just like a movie ... I couldn’t believe it was happening”. From a culture whose primary experience of death and violence is mediated by film and television, the issue of how these experiences are communicated and understood – by the families of those who died, by the rescue workers and police, by the politicians and the military, and also importantly, by the media and their audiences – is crucial in understanding the ways in which what seem like natural responses are socially and culturally constructed.