Body count


Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2006
Here I go with the unorthodox positions again...

So 5 years after 9-11, more bits of human remains were found at Ground Zero. Not surprisingly, some members of those bereaved lashed out, calling for a stop to reconstruction and reiterating their claims of "I told you that the process was ad hoc" and "this is an outrage."

In some ways, it is, and it is understandable that these relatives would be most upset- because in this fairly death-denying culture, people who lose relatives in untimely circumstances/manners also seem to lose a certain element of socialisation and in the long term process of grieving, often can feel that their pain is being swept under the carpet. This would be most especially true of the tens of thousands directly and indirectly affected by 9-11 due to the nature of the event and its central place in US history. It's depersonalising to say in the least.

However, I'd like to focus on one specific aspect- how one views the body and how we percieve death. Personally, as somebody who had to identify my own father's body after he was killed in a fatal car accident, it took me several months to understand how the grief affected my mother, and it also generated a few arguments about what to do with the body. I had no problems with a complete post-mortem as was the custom, but my mother refused because she didn't want anybody touching my father's body. After a few days, I found myself becoming slightly irritated due to the reaction- suddenly, I was not allowed to give consent to being an organ donor, among other things. Now, for my mother, while she has adjusted very well, there seems to have been this certain sense of displacement, not only with her retirement plans (my father died immediately before they were going to take some time off together since I was moving out to go to university), but also isolated in a sense of newfound loneliness which for all the efforts and advice of others, cannot be addressed.

All this pointed to a certain attachment to the body as a signifier of identity and memory, and I think that this is something that runs parallel across most cultures through prehistory to today. Death entails a series of elaborate rituals, for one, reflective of a psychological impact at some level depending on the deceased's place in a social network. In our day and age, I think that we live in a certain defiance of death, as if trying to deny its inevitability, causing a growing displacement between practices and ideals, and exacerbating the shock and the pain by focusing in some way (in general) on those things that only account for life. There seems to be a subtle, but a significant difference between having a balanced perspective that acknowledges life and death, and forgetting about death for it is that which lies beyond the limits of our imagination and comprehension.

But in a world where actions and considerations must be played off against the other, it makes me wonder just what place and how valuable this consideration must be compared to...everything else. It's a harsh reality and it makes me wonder if our cultural perceptions of death and the practices it entails would be better off adjusted, so that when we are confronted with it, we are more properly equipped to integrate it into our lives instead of being paralysed, while the world keeps going around, leaving us behind.
I dont think you are wrong here. We need to move on and the families from what i hear are a real bother to moving on from this situation. I know that sounds harsh but we need to move on as a state. Im from NY i want to move on and progress now. We cant leave this site open like a wound. I understand the families arent over it. I dont expect them to ever get over it. BUT because i always look at the positive no matter the situation. They should feel lucky they have the support of the other families. How many people loose love ones every day and its not even remembered? Much less by the world.
I agree with you, and I am glad to hear someone else say something like that. It is hard to find people who can talk about this issue without getting upset about it. I completely understand how it feels to lose someone you love, and there are certain things thatyou have to do in order to move on withyour life, because you just HAVE to. It is hard and it is an awful, terrible thing, but it is best for all if you can move on.
I was bothered by some of the upset over this recent discovery of bones. Finding bones after all this time is rather sickening, but I think there was a little overreaction as well. At the time, cleaning up Ground Zero was painful work and seemingly endless, and I think for some of the families to throw stones now is self-defeating. In no way is their loss lessened by this.
It's true. The fact is, there were tons of people who stepped in to help at a horrible and shocking time. I think everyone did the best they could with a terrible, unexpected situation.