Monday, February 6, 2012

Grief is a complicated monster

Yesterday was a sad day. News of Josh Powell's homicidal explosion that killed himself and his two young sons rocked Utah. For two years we've all followed the fruitless search for his missing wife and speculated as to his involvement.

I don't know anyone who thinks he's not guilty. I'd bet not a single person who knows the case heard the news and thought, "Why couldn't he have just killed himself?"

I did, I'll admit it. I don't believe it's better that he die than that he stay alive, but it's certainly better that he die alone rather than take his sons along with him. There's not a whole lot of sympathy for the man.

Then I read this column. The line that got me was this:

For me, all that’s left is deep sorrow for Charlie and Braden and all who loved and protected them, and absolutely none for the man who killed them.

I'm sorry, but that is not right. Yes, I have deep sorrow for those two beautiful little boys whose tragically short lives were filled with so much trauma, and for all of the people who loved them — especially the ones who also love their mother and left with even more forever unexplained holes.

But absolutely no sorrow for Josh Powell? I've felt plenty for him in the last 24 hours. Call me a bleeding heart, but the man's life was not good. He likely had a mental disorder that was ruining his life. Yes, he likely killed his wife, but did that improve anything? Was he happier? I've seen pictures of him from court, and he was not enjoying life. I think in a way that is completely unfathomable to all but a deeply disturbed mind, he did love those boys, and it broke his heart to lose them.

And then, what about his family? People loved Josh, I have no doubt. They're left not only with this loss but the knowledge of what he did. How do you cope with that?

Josh Powell lost everything. It was mostly his own fault, yes, but that doesn't remove the tragedy of it. Yes, I feel sorrow for Josh Powell. His life was a tragedy. At least now it's removed to a far greater judge.

I should note that I have since found out that the autopsies on the boys showed that they were murdered by chops to the neck delivered by a hatchet or small ax, as well as CO poisoning preceding an explosion. He was a sick, sick man — still deserving of perhaps a little sympathy, but it's getting harder.

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