In modern times, of course, attention-seeking is the norm. As such, is it any surprise that we are seeing a proliferation of morbid roadside shrines at the spot where a tragic event occurred?
Throughout the years, I have noticed many of these shrines created on the side of the road marking where a person died, usually by vehicle or murder. ‘Loved ones’ make a pilgrimage to the scene of the event, with flowers, crosses, and random knick-knacks. Perhaps the attention-seeking helps the ‘loved ones’ cope in some odd way. Gives them comfort in knowing that they are getting the attention of strangers. Is it that in order to progress through the grieving process, one must know that people are aware of their grieving?
All too often, however, those same ‘loved ones’ who deposited the items at the shrine have since abandoned it. It then becomes coated in dust, filth, and dog piss; and the flowers wither and rot. These same ‘loved ones’ who failed to maintain the shrine would also – no doubt – be livid if the city’s public works department (or you as a good samaritan) took the time to remove what has become a very public pile of rubbish and place it in the trash where it belongs. This is actually one of the most non-trollish suggestions I have for you… do it to improve the image of your city! (Winnipeg needs all the help it can get).
The atheist in me has trouble understanding the ‘logic’ of the paranormal/superstitious mind… just why do people leave messages written to the deceased or adorn the shrine with religious symbols anyway? Are they under the impression that the person’s ghost or spirit is somehow lurking around, invisible to us, at the site? That the essence or energy of them is somehow present, and they will read these messages or have a doorway to heaven open up due to the religious symbols? Strange thinking, indeed.
Here's a thought... what if, to respect a particular dead person's beliefs, the family or friends erected a pentagram for all to see on the side of the road? Do you think, in this case, that the masses would still insist that it's okay because it's helping that person’s family/friends with their grieving process? Or would Christian hypocrisy rear its ugly head?
Are these morbid shrines to be located where the death or the event took place? These two are very often not one in the same. Person gets raced to the hospital in critical condition and dies in the ER. If it is based on death, should there not be hundreds of these shrines in front of the ERs of Winnipeg’s hospitals? Would it not make more sense that the invisible spirit lurks around the place of death, rather than creepily stalk the location where they earlier got traumatically injured? Then again, placing such a shrine at a hospital with hundreds of others would detract from the uniqueness and therefore the attention-seeking that the ‘loved ones’ are aiming for.
I will close with a tale of perhaps the crassest of any such shrine that unfortunately occurred on the front lawn of a neighbour’s house of one of my friends. A few years ago, two young women from a First Nation north of Winnipeg were well over the legal limit and speeding recklessly down Henderson Hwy inside Winnipeg. At a curve on the road, they lost control and wrapped themselves around a tree on the property. My friend’s unlucky neighbour not only had damage to an otherwise beautiful spruce tree, but a shrine went up on his front lawn, without anyone asking permission, of course. In addition to the flowers and other crap, he couldn’t help but notice his lawn getting covered in cigarettes, mostly half-smoked butts. Apparently, this was “the traditional tobacco offering!” That’s right, not a pristine tobacco leaf, but actual cigarettes… mostly all smoked on site and then tossed as a butt onto his grass or in the direction of his mangled tree. This is in addition to making it difficult to psychologically move on from having witnessed a gruesome scene by being reminded of it daily via a shrine on the front yard. Long story short, in this instance, because of the need to create a shrine there are actually three victims: the two Darwin Award recipients and the ill-fated homeowner.
Superstition and attention-seeking usually go hand-in-hand, is it any wonder why these morbid shrines have now become A Thing To Do when someone dies?
The Midtown Troll