Friday, 2 March 2018

A mother's (and father's) grief

By special guest author - Blaze

"They are a very normal couple thrown into something extraordinary." 
(Richard Edwards writing for The Telegraph, 2nd June 2007)

We all deal with shock, loss and grief differently. 

Some people use humour to cope with trauma and bereavement. Some people live in numbed denial. Some people weep constantly; others barely shed a tear. Some people get angry; others get depressed or despondent. Some genuinely bereaved people just don't and won't grieve openly or demonstratively at all, for a whole host of reasons. Whether we bottle it up or let it all out, it's fair to say that there are broad parameters within which to assess the 'normal range' of a grief response.

The grieving process is unique for everyone, but we all feel sorrow, every single one of us; we all mourn death. Even psychopaths grieve, and in fact they are excellent at exaggerating or misappropriating grief and sorrow in order to squeeze as much attention and sympathy from others as they can. They tend to be accomplished and terrifyingly credible actors - nevertheless they DO still get genuinely affected by the same traumatic events and human emotions that affect us all - just in fundamentally different ways.

I have witnessed a (diagnosed) sociopath grieve, and they do cry, they cry just like the rest of us. The tears might flow from a less pure source of suffering, but they can and do weep inconsolably, uncontrollably, sometimes over even relatively trivial losses and setbacks. They are still human beings.Grief (of a loss) is universal. It is communicated in a universally-understood non-verbal language. We only have to look into the eyes of a bereaved or stricken person to begin to acknowledge the depth of their pain and affliction. And there is no greater loss than the loss of one's child. No bereavement is more cataclysmic.

The sustained impassivity and lack of expressed grief from not just one but both parents therefore remains one aspect of this case I find completely unfathomable and incomprehensible. 

Along with just about everything else that has come out of his lying mouth since May 2007, I don't buy Clarence Mitchell's spurious "tears are shed backstage" remark, either... If you are a parent experiencing what the McCanns claim to be experiencing, you cannot just turn your devastation 'on and off' when it suits you. You will be a chaotic mess of excruciating emotions 24/7. That is a fact that cannot be batted away by the weak pro-McCann protest: "you just don't know what you'd do, because it hasn't happened to you.

And let's be clear: 'straightforward' grief (the natural but variable mourning period that follows the loss of a loved one) is actually entirely different to what the McCanns tell us they are going through. They tell us they *don't know* whether their daughter is alive or dead, whether or not she is suffering horribly, what kind of monster/s might be holding her captive, and what he (she? they?) might be doing to her. It is the sudden and brutal loss of one's child without explanation or closure; an agonising state of limbo that is without doubt the most traumatising and torturous experience imaginable. There can be no worse pain in the world. You CANNOT, as a parent, face a camera day after day in that hellish scenario without the abject horror and unendurable terror of it showing clearly on your face, in your eyes, in the tremor of your sob-choked voice. 

But it's not just about the conspicuous absence of any of the typical signs of grief, of numb devastation, frantic red-eyed panic and/or stunned disbelief in almost every single one of their interviews and photographs, from May 2007 to the present day; it's the stark absence of remorse, of desperate parental instinct, of wretched regret, of yearning, of pleading, of *prioritising their missing child before and above everything else*. 

Grief and trauma naturally instils a palpable vulnerability and emotional volatility even in the most ordinarily composed and controlled individual. Yet both parents - BOTH of them - have epitomised an almost bionic level of focus, frosty indomitability and unwavering self-control. They were in the driver's seat from the start (especially Gerry), and they knew exactly where they were going and how they were going to get there. How is such remarkable composure and steely determination possible when, as Gerry said, their whole world had been "shattered"?

The answer is: it's not. It would be highly unusual to see any degree of hard-heartedness or level-headedness in just one parent in such extreme circumstances, but in *both* of them? Nope. They are expecting us to believe in an impossible event, and have reacted to that impossible event in impossible ways. As former US prosecutor Wendy Murphy might say, "I'm not buying it".

"But they're doctors, they are accustomed to dealing efficiently with stressful situations!"

... I call bullshit on that, too! While it's true that individuals on the psychopath spectrum are over-represented in the medical professions, most doctors are decent, caring and compassionate people. Besides which, remaining stoical and professional in an emergency, for example in the event of the sudden cardiac arrest of a patient, is one thing; behaving in a similarly disconnected way in the event of losing one's own child is quite another. You cannot apply the same coping mechanisms to all circumstances - life simply isn't that clean-cut and clinical... UNLESS, that is, you *ARE* a psychopath. *. 

So the very people defending the McCanns in this blindsided way are in fact inadvertently suggesting that the McCanns must be innocent *because* they are displaying psychopathic tendencies. Applying the bare minimum of the most basic common sense logic, my suggestion is that they're probably *not* innocent for the very same reason.

But it's actually more than that, even. I am deeply perturbed by the unwillingness (or inability?) of both parents to consistently reference their daughter as someone vital, vibrant and real, as a multi-dimensional, characterful and adored member of their family. Even in her book, Kate fails to bring her daughter to life for the reader, bestowing her with only the most rudimentary, generic and clichéd descriptions and recalling only insipid, non-specific and contrived memories. 

When talking publicly, they regularly use the 'right' (i.e. expected) words and phrases, such as "shock", "grief", "despair", "devastated", "pain" and "anguish", while nothing in their eyes, their body language, their demeanours or their coldly calculated actions has revealed the pertinence of those words. 

We are all familiar with the numerous 'post-abduction' photos of the McCanns beaming with unimpeded joy - smiling not just with their mouths but with their eyes, the whole face appearing illuminated with unmoderated merriment. Their body language also radiated a relaxed self-assurance so at odds with "child abduction" that it often felt like those of us prepared to draw attention to it were doing nothing more ground-breaking than observing that the emperor is naked. 

A photo is, of course, nothing more than a literal split-second snapshot of a fleeting moment in time, and in isolation it cannot realistically be considered an accurate and reliable representation of the person photographed. 

It could be (and has been) argued by their supporters that the McCanns are just remarkably self-controlled and stolid people; that they both possess the heroic 'strength' and restraint required to ensure that none of the hundreds of camera crews focused intrusively on their every move ever managed to capture them looking as utterly desolate, desperate and beside themselves with sorrow as they truly were. It could be (and has been) argued by their supporters that nobody has the right to question the McCanns' outward appearances anyway, or to make judgements and assumptions about their internal emotions based solely on such superficial observations. 

And so this is the upshot: for every photograph/ video still of the McCanns 'appearing' to look appropriately subdued, distraught, fearful or tearful, there are dozens of images of them looking carefree, self-satisfied, radiant with happiness, defiant or even relieved. 

I am aware of just one brief clip of the McCanns apparently "unified in their shared grief", i.e. both of them making noises and facial expressions not dissimilar to crying, yet with no tears. This was filmed three days after the 'abduction'. Even at that early stage, the McCanns had been made aware of public scepticism, those 'unkind' and 'insensitive' accusations that they were "not behaving like the parents of an abducted child are expected to behave". And so this is how they tried to silence those doubters; this is how the McCanns do a one-off blink-and-you'll-miss-it "devastated" double-act:
It's painful to watch, and it's equally painful to listen to. But not painful in the way they clearly hoped and assumed it would be.

The McCann MSM campaign, which was necessarily both defensive and offensive, was - and incredibly, still is - a relentless gaslighting operation on an unprecedented scale. We were, in effect, being ordered to believe in the opposite of what we could see and hear and 'feel'.

This jarring and unsettling incongruence represents a deeply troubling aspect to the McCanns' personalities and the very crux of the pernicious media onslaught that gave shameless credence to their lies. The stark dichotomy is particularly clear, for example (and has been extensively remarked upon) when you observe the photos of Kate and Gerry walking out of the church, all smiles, on what would have been Madeleine's fourth birthday (12th May 2007, nine days after the disappearance) and then read what Kate wrote in her book about that day - see 'Fact 16' at

Their stoical, sangfroid acceptance of their daughter's death - consistently referred to, mantra-like, as 'abduction' - their acceptance that she was never coming home, that they did not even WANT her to come home (despite their numerous dispassionate proclamations to the contrary) - was a 'fait accompli'. And that in itself is truly harrowing, because in my opinion it means that neither an abduction nor a sudden and unexpected death are feasible explanations for Madeleine's disappearance. Which frankly only leaves the bleakest of possibilities.

So while I fully understand and respect that everyone grieves differently, and adopts different coping mechanisms to get them through the grieving process, my repulsed and incredulous reaction to the McCanns wasn't just about the strangeness and seeming inappropriateness of their behaviour. It wasn't just the clear lack of what could realistically be described as a normal (or even an abnormal) grief response; it was the *clear and undisguised existence of the opposite*: a blasé, disengaged acquiescence; a distastefully expedient acceptance and cynical exploitation of something so horrific and final and ruinous that any ordinary parent would take years - an entire lifetime - to process it. Most couples would separate under the pressure, and go demented with guilt, torment and agony. Not the McCanns. They built a multi-million pound self-promoting empire from it, without so much as a blush or a pause. 

So we can safely and emphatically conclude that the McCanns aren't "most couples". They are not "a very normal couple thrown into something extraordinary". There is nothing 'normal' about either of them. And everything 'extraordinary' about this case directly correlates with and corresponds to their myriad abnormalities.

During their interview with Ian Woods on 25th May 2007, three weeks after their daughter had disappeared/died, Gerry states they have to stay strong for the twins and then goes on to say (hesitantly, because he realises how bloody awful it sounds even before the words come out of his mouth): "you can't... y'know... grieve... one..." (meaning, you can't grieve for the one child you have lost when you have two others to 'stay strong' for). He then hurriedly says "we did grieve, of course we grieved..."

He reiterates this flabbergasting disclosure in another interview on the same day, this time for the BBC: "We are determined", he says,  with sanguine bravado, "having gone through the grieving phase..."

Three weeks after the abduction (or ACCIDENTAL death?) of their firstborn child, and they're already through with their grieving? Amazing. It should be the point at which a parent is only just *starting* to, reluctantly, through an unbearable fog of self-recriminations and sedatives, come to terms with the full horror of what's happened.

During pre-arranged interviews, even these first ones, mere weeks after losing their firstborn child, they are polished and composed. Just look at them. Listen to their words, and ask yourself: are these parents of a little girl who has been suddenly and unexpectedly taken from them? Parents who don't have a clue where their precious child is, who is with her, and what is happening to her - or what has already happened to her?

Gerry says: "We'd worked tirelessly behind the scenes to put support mechanisms in place, including a legal team..."

Three weeks, and they've established a campaign, a fund, a website, and a comprehensive support network including a legal team. Trademark. Online store. PayPal donations. Ward of Court application. Press conferences. Travel itineraries. Countless television, press and radio interviews. And through it all, barely a tear shed.

It's. Just. Not. Possible.

Watch from around 5:20 - a genuine smile from Kate when the interviewer mentions the twins. The stark contrast between her feelings for her firstborn and for her twins is so startlingly obvious that it chills me to the bone: she glows animatedly when she talks about the twins... Yet she is robotic, stilted and awkward when she is asked to describe Madeleine. Where there should be a natural, rapturous flow of words there is noticeable hesitancy and paucity in her speech.

Later during the Ian Woods interview, Gerry waffles on about how it could have been "worse than your worst nightmare" if *all three children had been taken* and not just Madeleine. (It reminds me of a comedy scene from Blackadder Goes Forth in which Blackadder sardonically says; "A fate WORSE than a fate worse than death? Hmm, pretty bad.")

GM: "Certainly, you know, at the end of that first week there was so much emotion that we had spent and we actually had a period where we discussed this openly that we felt devoid, completely devoid of emotion. The analogy that I like to use is a bit like when we were students and you'd got to your overdraft limit and you'd gone beyond it and there was just nothing left in the tank."

I have no words to sufficiently convey my disgust and disdain for the crass vulgarity of this statement. The man is truly depraved.

In her book, Kate talks about feeling 'grief' as early as the night of the 'abduction' - a time when formidable torrents of pure adrenaline would be pumping like wildfire through any normal parent, sending them into an uncontrollable tailspin of breathless panic and an invigorated, superhuman determination to find their child no matter what. (Not to stay indoors because it was 'too dark' outside.)

Succumbing to grief/ despair - in effect, allowing hope to fade - would not come until much, much later, but for the McCanns this natural order of things was oddly reversed: they had 'physical shutdown' for the first few days, and then they apparently felt "buoyed" and "uplifted" and "found strength from somewhere":

"At some point, Emma Knights, the Mark Warner customer-care manager, came in and sat on the bed near me. She was very nice and tried her best to comfort me, but my grief was so agonizing and so personal that I wasn’t sure whether I wanted her there or not. I didn’t really want anyone around me but people I knew well."

A few pages on, still within a week of the abduction, Kate complains about the fact she's judged as emotionless, again using the word 'grief' long before the word should be considered entirely applicable:

"... in the following weeks and months I would be subjected to cruel comments describing me as ‘cold’ and ‘poker-faced’. Had these critics not seen the television pictures? Or is it that people have short and selective memories? It is true that as I grew a little stronger I was better able to control my grief in public. I was also terrified to show my emotions after the warnings I’d been given that this might influence Madeleine’s abductor. So if I seemed ‘poker-faced’, is it any wonder? But that was beside the point, really. Who were these people to dictate how the mother of a missing child should appear?"

Kate takes umbrage to the fact that the very people she is appealing to for support (i.e. cash, sympathy) are not all quite as gullible as she requires them to be. How dare they question her lack of maternal warmth, what accursed sacrilege! She's as pissed off as a puff adder in a piñata that anybody should dare doubt her veracity and her status/starring role of 'victim'. "Who were these people?" She demands, with her typical unbecoming petulance. I'll answer that one, Kate: they are all of us, and we have every right to question the most questionable story ever told, especially when it's being so woodenly acted out by two of the most audacious liars in world history.

And I'll say it again: the absence of discernible, 'obvious' grief is not even the issue here. Nobody is entitled to 'dictate' how a *genuinely grieving* parent should process the horrendous, tumultuous tsunami of their emotions. It's an intensely personal experience. An unwillingness to break down in tears in public is understandable, and it is just as 'normal' and 'acceptable' as uninhibitedly sobbing all day every day. But Kate has the unmitigated gall to tell the public that the *reason* for her lack of tears is because she believes that an outpouring of emotion "might influence Madeleine's abductor"... 

This is such an unbelievably crass statement to make that it is in fact beneath contempt and not worthy of further comment.
By chapter 11, Kate is giving herself pep talks to snap out of her 'grief' - after all, feeling sorry for oneself helps nobody, right?

"After a troubled night, we got up, dressed and went down to breakfast. I couldn’t focus on the day ahead, on what we were trying to accomplish. Every now and then, by taking a few deep breaths and giving myself a firm talking-to, I gained a little control, only to collapse minutes later into a blubbering wreck. I was so angry with myself. Stop crying. Just stop it. You have to help your daughter. You will achieve nothing if you spend the whole day crying and wallowing in your grief. But trying to ‘snap out of it’ when every thought, every action, every breath is polluted by anguish is easier said than done. As I continued to sniffle over my untouched cup of tea, Gerry said, ‘Kate, you don’t have to do this. We don’t have to do any of this. These meetings can be cancelled quite easily.’ I knew he meant it but I also knew that I’d persecute myself later if I pulled out."

She literally could not have martyred herself more in that passage. But then she outdoes herself further on in the book:
"No relationship, however strong, can emerge unscathed from what is probably the most painful and terrifying ordeal any parent could suffer. Inevitably, we sometimes reach certain stages, or go through phases, at different times and find different ways of coping with our anguish. Gerry was functioning much sooner than I was. I felt a tinge of resentment that he was managing to operate and I wasn’t; sometimes I found it almost offensive, as if somehow he wasn’t grieving enough. On other days I would feel I was a failure for not being capable of doing as much for Madeleine as he was. It was equally difficult for Gerry. He needed my help and support and I was so consumed by my own grief that I simply couldn’t give anything."

I will end with two more quotes from the McCanns that in my opinion quite succinctly sum up their priorities, their leviathan self-obsession and their pitiless emotional destitution:

Gerry: We are not characters in a book or a soap opera, we are real people, with real feelings, we have got a real family and we've got other children to protect while we're searching for our other daughter.

Kate: Since our series of campaign trips, it had become apparent that, with coverage having reached saturation point, the press were exploring different angles. Their appetite for the ‘human-interest’ aspect seemed insatiable. No longer was it about our lovely missing daughter: it was becoming the Kate and Gerry show. 


  1. This puts everything in correct order, Them 1st, Twins 2nd and all other family 3rd and poor Madeleine last. They didn’t/never cared for her at all. Disgusting way for parents to be, but hey some people just should not have kids, end of? Get the pai4 of them arrested ASAP.

  2. My God they look like the phillpots at their press appeal same fake sadness and NO TEARS! Is this the same time she was caught giving that killer look?

  3. thank you. I'm not as educated as you obviously are but I do know about grief. it is physical and it is uncontrollable. sometimed my eyes leak when I'm talking and I don't even realise , it. but the immediate effect is so intennse, it comes from the chest, from the gut, even from the womb when you're the mother, it's gutteral and it hurts like hell, it cannot be controlled until it is good and ready and that takes years to master, even then, it can raise its terrible head in public and take you back to square one. these people are the indeed the Philpotts all over again with their educated knobs on, enabling them to sweet talk the world - they failed. cold-hearted to the core, both of them