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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “The nine steps of grief, for miners”

    Eric Moll columnist
    Eric Moll

    You have probably heard something about the Crandall Canyon miners. Before I continue, I clarify that I have put this column into a whimsical format not because of whimsical subject matter, but simply because grief is very complicated. The original model that you’ve heard of is called the KǬbler-Ross grief cycle, though its creators never expressed it as being “”only”” a five-step process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

    With this tragedy, the media decided to make things more complicated.

    Step 1: Panic.

    On Aug. 16, a minor seismic event caused the collapse of the Crandall Canyon Mine. Together, CNN and the AP Wire issued five statements. Everything was preliminary. How many people were inside? Who was hurt? Was anyone dead?

    Step 2: More panic, slowing of thought, the introduction of Hope.

    On Aug. 17, CNN confirmed three deaths, noted the release from the hospital of one injured rescue worker. Another press conference was held.

    Step 3: Hope does not last – cynicism intrudes.

    At the press conference on the 17th, Rich Kuczewski of the Department of Labor announced that the rescue efforts had stopped. His reasoning was, simply put, that the miners were probably dead.

    Step 4: Government Intervention.

    On the same day, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman backed Kuczewski’s statement. It had probably already been discussed behind closed doors, and the government’s stance was firm, stern and solid in the idea that it was simply not practical to waste more lives trying to save the miners. They were probably dead, anyway.

    Step 5: Outrage

    If the response to a labor secretary was frenzied, then the response to the governor’s pronouncement was like a tank full of sharks that has just been tossed some fish heads. Anger, despair, rage – all perfectly justified – were the reactions of the general populace. The newspapers were staying relatively reserved with their wording, but the Internet was on fire with bloggers, throwing the feces of rational discussion at the monkeys of government.

    Step 6: The last mad, passionate hope is exhausted.

    Again, cameras. Cameras see exactly what they are told to see. They have no imaginations. They saw only the blackness. Oxygen sensors were lowered, again, and then again. They detected, just like the day before, just like a brain-dead coma patient, nothing but the background oxygen that exists everywhere. The most complicated instruments are required to be sure of this, and the government had all the right tools, just lying around and waiting, our tax dollars at work.

    Step 7: Do not go gentle into that good night.

    The newspapers kept doing their jobs. Everyone just kept doing their jobs, because there was nothing else to do. They kept yelling about how it’s wrong, how it’s not right, how we should never give up. This is what they’re supposed to say, and a lot of them are still saying it and some of them will never stop saying it. They say: “”The miners that survived the initial blast are on their way to recovery. The miners that did not are dead.””

    Please, accept it.

    It is easy for you, because you did not know them. It is hard for the family members, because they did. It will not take them years to come to terms with this. They will never come to terms with this.

    Step 8: When to stop hoping?

    When do we stop looking? When do we stop trying to give CPR? Doctors deal with problems like this all the time, and there are quite a few medical terms to fill in the gray areas, but at some point they declare a time of death and they stop.

    In most cases, death is a slow, quiet shutdown that we don’t even notice. In the case of a mine collapse, it is even faster. It is the closest thing to instantaneous that a human being can experience, short of a nuclear bomb or some other perfect weaponry.

    Step 9: Sorry, guys, I’m all out of truisms.

    Today is the 29th. The miners have been in there for 13 days, with no signs of life. It is time for us to leave the families to their grief.

    At this point the media attention has left the area of concern and reached the area of meddling. New Orleans still needs media attention, because the city still needs help. A lot of the people there are upset because the country has abandoned their plight. There was the initial outpouring, as there always is, but our national media doesn’t have the attention span.

    Africa still needs media attention. Health care still needs media attention. A lot of problems need media attention. Emery County, Utah, just needs to be left alone.

    Eric Moll is a sophomore majoring in creative writing and environmental science. He can be reached at

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