Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Public versus private grieving

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City councillors have handed a hot potato to civic officials, asking them to decide how to best handle roadside memorials.The rules on the book are very clear. The memorials are only allowed to reamin in place for six months. They must be well maintained. They shouldn't distract passing traffic. They can't be on the median.The problem is there is little enforcement.Things came to a head in Winnipeg recently when a memorial to two men killed on St. Mary's Road was removed a year after their deaths. Some think a city employee was responsible. Others think it was a neighbour who was tired of being reminded death had arrived near his house. Roadside memorials are banned in many cities and states.Their existence speak, I think, to changes in how we approach mourning. This used to be private and mostly confined to a religious environment. We're more secular now and people are looking for an outlet for their mourning. It's interesting that the objects chosen to mark the spots where tragedy occured often include a cross.Did all this begin in a post-Princess Diana frenzy, when hundreds of thousands of flowers were dropped on the street where she was killed? Have the lines between public and private grieving forever blurred?And what do you say to the folks who have the misfortune of living next to an accident site? Is their right to a quiet stretch of grass on their own street trumped by the sorrow of strangers?Check out tomorrow's column. Tell me what you think.

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