Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Joannie Rochette and.....public opinion?

Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette has perhaps the challenge of her life before her. She is in Vancouver, preparing for the Olympic short program competition tonight. Her devoted parents arrived Saturday, excited to watch their only child represent their country. Later that night, though, Joannie's mom, Therese Rochette, suffered a heart attack and died a few hours later.

Joannie has reportedly decided to go ahead and compete. Some have voiced concern over her decision, citing the enormous pressure at her most vulnerable. Others support it and declare their "approval".

This brings up a conflict that has come up in many of my interviews. When others discuss the appropriateness of your behavior after a death, it is rarely comforting. As every relationship is unique, so is the grief process. There are those who feel they know best, however, and feel it's helpful to make statements like-

"He needs to get rid of her clothes- they just remind him of her."
"She never cries. That's not normal."
"I can't believe she's dating already."
"He needs to work less and deal with this."

That's not to say that public support won't be welcomed by Joannie Rochette. I just don't feel that it's anyone else's place to judge her method of mourning as brave, denial, or any other label they may choose. I'd much rather hear it from Joannie, if and when she decides to talk about it.

Your grief is your grief. Heal on your own schedule, in your own way. We can't tell anyone else how to feel, how to say goodbye, or when to move on.

Now, GO JOANNIE! (Hey- it was her decision!)


  1. Go Joannie!!! Not that she needs MY approval, but I think her mother would be horrified if Joannie decided not to compete (after working so hard for this moment) because of mom's death.

    We always think other people would be happier if they were more like us. That's a false assumption. The haters need to stop imposing their own grief script on Joannie!!

  2. I agree. There is no right way, or length of time, of number of tears to be satisfied.

    My band performed a few hours after my mom's service. We had missed several gigs already, and I had family in town. We all welcomed the distraction by that time. I'm not saying it was a picnic, but it was MY choice. That didn't stop several (several!) people from telling me it was a mistake. One even used the word "disrespectful". I'm sure my mom's still haunting that guy!

    If this skater wants to skate, then she should. I'm pretty sure she's not waiting for my nod.

  3. Grief script. I like that, Niki. Thanks!

  4. I absolutely agree. It is not for anyone else to judge, but to support this girl in whatever she chooses.


When someone dies, (other than attending the service), I do this for the family-