Friday, 15 March 2013
Can we really be heartbroken by a celebrity dying? A cancelled holiday? Not winning the lottery? A shop closing or a tree being cut down? Disappointed maybe, or saddened, or surprised. But brokenhearted? An exaggeration, surely?
We've probably never met the celebrity. All we know about them is what we've seen in the media. We have no actual relationship with them beyond personal appreciation. How can we seriously say we're emotionally shattered because they died?
Shops closing, trees coming down, green fields being built on - disturbing certainly, not what we expected, a blow to our nice little neighbourhood. A tarnish on our perfect vision of life. But hardly something to tear our psyche to bits.
The truest heartbreak is the disruption of close relationships, ones that involve our whole being and our deepest emotions. Relationships so strong that when anything fractures them the repercussions shake us to the core.
That is heartbreak proper. Our most basic hopes and expectations are confounded and we have to pick up the pieces and rebuild. It's not just a passing event that skims the surface of our lives.
There's genuine heartbreak too in the loss of precious possessions, things that express our identity and sense of self. Which is why burglaries can be so distressing, out of all proportion to the physical damage, when something very personal is taken from us.
But using the word too casually trivialises those situations where we're truly heartbroken and in real need of comfort and support. Coming to terms with a chopped-down tree is hardly in that league. Let's not pretend it is.