Michael Bywater (When a manly pat on the back won’t do, 1 August) correctly points to the salience of culture in shaping our responses to grief, but when he writes “We have grown to distrust rationality; feeling is the new thinking”, whom is he referring to? For some, grief has to be stowed away because, in rational terms, they cannot allow it to dominate their lives when earning a living and supporting children have priority. They are not in a position to cogitate on “the rewriting of what it means to be human”.
Those who are at the forefront of this discourse, though, are not necessarily harbingers of change when it comes to responses to grief. Some years ago I was working in a Russell Group university and the response I received, on the death of my wife, from a female professor of sociology, was: “Oh, I wouldn’t like that.” Clearly indicating, as Bywater puts it, that the new message is “We’re all in it together”. Really?