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Parkland school shooting survivors Emma González, Cameron Kasky, and Jaclyn Cori are responding to claims that they’re “grief actors” after actor James Woods criticized the trio for smiling on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
On Tuesday, after Woods tweeted a video of the kids mugging for the camera while making an appearance on the daytime talk show, 18-year-old González struck back.
They hate us for smiling, they hate us for crying, they hate us for speaking, they hate us for being alive – they hate us. What's important to remember is that their argument against us is so weak and futile that they have to resort to attacking the people delivering the message. https://t.co/2DRzl2pae1
— Emma González (@Emma4Change) February 27, 2018
Sarah Chadwick, another Marjory Stoneman Douglas student who has been vocal on social media since the shooting, defended her peers.
You don’t get the feeling we get in our stomachs every time we look at that building or hear his name. The number 17 isn’t different for you like it is for us now. You don’t understand so don’t tell us how we should be acting. 2/2
— Sarah Chadwick// #NEVERAGAIN (@sarahchad_) February 26, 2018
Many others on the internet did the same.
Anyone that has known grief understands that people in pain often shift between laughing and crying. It’s normal and should not be judged.
No one has to justify the way they process loss to anyone, end of story.
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) February 27, 2018
Hi Collin. As a bereaved parent and a therapist, I can tell you grief is complex. And early grief even more so. The lack of empathy in your tweet is WAY “weirder”- especially with Christian in your bio. https://t.co/0kXeKuNvj5
— Nelba Márquez-Greene (@Nelba_MG) February 27, 2018
Monitoring and policing how others grieve is gross. In my saddest of times I also laughed with coworkers, went out to bars, and performed in comedy shows. Grief is not always visible.
— Kate Spencer (@katespencer) February 28, 2018
grief is a fickle thing. i've never had a friend die, but i've had a sister die and man it really is true that grief wears many faces. seeing how it was affecting ppl around me, how i affected me… those moments of joy really keep you going and help you survive.
— ash (@asluckyasus) February 26, 2018
Srly @RealJamesWoods? Yes grief wears many faces and moods! Stop shaming the kids for allowing themselves to feel joy! I grieve the loss of my daughter daily, but laugh and love with those I still have!! My moments of joy in NO WAY lesson the pain I feel EVERY SEC OF THE DAY! https://t.co/oOHBYPa2yV
— Fed UP✊✊✊✊✊✊ (@endthemaddnesss) February 27, 2018
Imagine being so broken that you'd sneer at trauma survivors for smiling. https://t.co/CZzyB0oG9a
— Tom & Lorenzo (@tomandlorenzo) February 27, 2018
Absolutely this. I remember laughing so hard with my sister the day before she died when her heart monitor stopped going beep beep and went beeeeeeeeeep. She looked at me, I looked at her… ‘Hang on, I’m not dead.’ The plug had come out. People handle pain in all kinds of ways.
— Liz Luff (@LizLongstonePR) February 28, 2018
“There’s no uniform way to grieve, and laughing — much like crying — can be a form of emotional release,” Cormier told Yahoo Lifestyle. “It’s also intolerable to be sad every waking moment of the day, the psyche can’t handle that. So it’s recommended that people take ‘breaks’ from grief with distractions.”
One way people heal from grief is to find purpose in an otherwise meaningless tragedy, Cormier noted, so challenging gun laws at a rally or on a comedian’s talk show is an example of that. Given the amount of camera time devoted to the young activists, they may also feel pressure to stay composed. In situations where death is sudden and traumatic, she added, survivors can experience shock or numbness that can appear to others as emotionless.
Most importantly, the young people aren’t obligated to perform their grief for the public. “Grieving can be private, and no one is entitled to witness someone else’s pain or impose their own expectations of grief on another person,” Cormier said.
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