Thursday, November 25, 2010

Families and the Pike River Mine tragedy

Yesterday we heard the news of the second explosion at Pike River. Another explosion was always on the cards, we knew that it was the risk that held men back from entering the mine. And yesterday what we all dreaded, what we all prayed and hoped would not happen, did. Greymouth today is just so quiet, everyone is grieving. People shopping in the supermarket are hushed. The media pack aren't outside our boys' school this morning. You can feel the sadness everywhere.

One thing has struck my though all of this - the vital place of the family within the community. The people I know involved in the tragedy have all reached out to their families. Individuals don't make up community, families do and right now families are hurting. It's not just the twenty-nine families who have lost one of their own, it's also the families of the people who work at the mine and the families of men who go underground at the other mines in the area who are suffering. I know a wife who worries herself to pieces when her husband comes home late from his shift at a different mine.

I don't think family is acknowledged enough in our culture. The emphasis is on the freedom of the individual, yet what is best for the family is what comes to the aid of the individual. Strong, functional, loving families are the best place for children to be nurtured, for elderly to be cared for, and it creates a safe place for emotions, like grief, to be worked through.