Inner Michael » Why Are They Weeping In The Streets For This Man?

Why Are They Weeping In The Streets For This Man?

Flowers, photos, messages, stuffed animals, balloons, candles… began spontaneously to appear in places that symbolized or held memories of Michael Jackson. On June 25, 2009, impromptu symbols of his presence, now come to mean his passing, began forming around the globe. Memorials and shrines and tributes appeared at his star on the Hollywood walk of fame; at the Apollo Theater, at Neverland Ranch, at the O2 Arena, another at the Staples center and this scenario was repeated the world over. Everywhere from Denmark to South Africa and on every continent, there were tears and music and memories and singing and dancing and more tears…

It isn’t often we see this kind of open weeping in the streets. It happened with the Kennedys, Martin Luther King and John Lennon and we saw a global outpouring of love, spontaneous memorials and altars and the public weeping of this magnitude when the people’s ‘Queen of Hearts,’ Lady Diana died. When our collectively cherished beloveds are taken from us, we weep unashamedly and openly. This collective open weeping is an acknowledgement of a loss of something precious that we don’t know quite how to name.

It was one of those “where were you when you heard…” moments. Embedded now in the collective consciousness like: the Challenger accident, the first lunar landing, Kennedy Assassination, Apollo 13 splashdown, Lady Diana’s fatal accident, John Lennon’s murder and the World Trade Center in New York. There are moments that mark our lives and punctuate how much we take for granted and perhaps what we forget to be grateful for. The faces of Michael’s family will forever remain imprinted too, as will the words of Michael’s daughter Paris Jackson when she publicly declared that he was a great daddy.

The task of telling the world in a press conference fell to Jermaine and later Janet, who was very close to her brother, said in an attempt to clarify the family’s grief and request some respectful privacy: “To you, Michael was an icon; to us Michael was family.” Brother Tito was to say later in the TV series featuring the remaining brothers that he thought of Michael, his baby brother, “in that place alone.” Kathryn Jackson lost a son that day and there is no greater pain than losing a child. Her face said it.

As the one year anniversary of losing Michael approaches, I have come to learn that Michael Jackson was much more than a simple icon to his constituency. Fellow musicians may have lost a colleague, the cast of “This Is It” lost their musical muse, the world lost a stellar talent but something else fundamentally profound occurred when Michael died. We may have felt some complicity; we gained some compassion. At least it seemed most did. We lost the ability to ever be that way again. What way? Well, you already know. You decide what to call it.

To some admirers Michael was a megastar, a musical genius, and yes, an icon. He was also someone who marked the milestones of their lives along the length of it. But he was more… For some, Michael was their hero or guru; someone whom they looked to for inspiration and hope. He was, for them, a messenger. To multitudes, he represented that someone in the adult world actually “got it.” If you came of age in the sixties you will know what that means; if not, you will have to guess at it.

Michael Jackson created in his lyrics and with their message, the kind of world his fans and admirers wanted to believe was possible. He then told them they could make a change and they believed it. But they really needed his guidance, his leadership, his commitment to be steadfast. Some were unable to go on without Michael and they sadly followed him into eternity. Some who are left behind find themselves still deeply mourning periodically because the sting of this particular loss remains unbearable.

Some of the more despairing grief surrounding Michael’s passing is because those who did not know the real Michael, those whose only source of familiarity was the tabloid version, continue to demean and slander and perpetuate false urban myths about the man. Even now there are those who conscript his name for their devious agenda. Even now he is vilified despite his exoneration; condemned for his vulnerability; ridiculed for his innocence and for his simple faith in human nature. And it is a human nature that didn’t treat him so well. That is what makes it personal.

When Michael died, he took something with him. Whatever it was, its loss is felt exquisitely by those who know the real Michael. He had their loyalty, certainly. He had their admiration, it goes without saying. He had their belief in him, to a fault. But he had something else and he took it along when he left. The ambassador of hope, the planetary cheerleader who never gave up on the human race, left the planet and left behind a huge gaping vacuum. That is what makes it universal.

A ninety year old woman asked a younger female family member: “Why are they weeping in the streets for this man?” Indeed, what measure of a man commands that kind of reaction? What kind of person is wept for in the streets? Just a cultural icon? A musical icon? Any icon? What did they see in Michael? To weep in the streets? Perhaps it deserves more than a cursory glance. Maybe there is more to it. The question invites contemplation. And it suggests an even deeper question and reflection: “Would they weep in the streets for me if they really knew me?”

Many are still puzzled about why they felt his loss so deeply, why they still grieve with such depth nearly a year later, why it feels so personal, why he feels like family. Well, Michael was special. You just feel that. And there will never be another.

Something else has occurred with his passing—for thousands there has been a spiritual awakening. Personal and collective tragedy will do that as one free falls headlong into the emptiness of the in-between-spaces. The place of feeling the loss but not naming. His absence has changed some so fundamentally that they are hardly recognizable. There is something about Michael…

There is so much more. There are many. There are stories upon stories of this fulcrum moment in time and how it was a catalyst for new realities. There are Michael moments that do not qualify as induced mass hysteria, hallucination or the laughable “Michael sightings.” These Michael moments are raw and real and touching. He, his work and his message are being experienced in a new and reality-expanding way. It defies explanation and there are no words, at least not yet, nor a place to look for them. It is so unusual as to be a phenomenon.

And the deep and haunting grief is purposeful. If humans are to make sense of this world, their experience of life and elevate the human condition as well as consciousness, they must have open hearts. There is nothing that opens the human heart so much as deep grief and weeping. There is nothing that empties the vessel of one’s humanity as well as the cutting knife of authentic sharp-edged grief. It carves out a space inside leaving it empty and raw. This is the space where compassion fits.

Michael Jackson asked us to be compassionate beings. To “heal the world” to see “in the mirror” and “make that change.” He said “We are the world” and he requested we save it and ourselves from many forms of annihilation. He asked this of us all his life. He asked us in every way with every means he had available to him. And now he gives us the gift of grief to open hearts and carve out a well inside for authentic compassion. He presents to us now a gift of reflection. He loaned us his life. Now he loans to us an opportunity to expand human consciousness and compassion by reflecting on what he demonstrated for us. He stood steadfast, faithful and compassionate providing a mirror that reflected whatever we chose to hurl at him. He demonstrated for us exactly what a collective and global lack of compassion looks like. He demonstrated that for all of us on this planet, perhaps so that we might see the ugliness in that and decide to do it differently in the future. That may have been Michael’s greatest gift.


Your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so

My need of God

(Sufi Mystic 1320-1390 A.D.)
translation by Daniel Ladinsky


  1. marga1961 said . . .

    Rev. B: Beautiful article again and I feel that Michael is watching us. All for L.O.V.E. He sings in History: “Let’s harmonise all around the world, could that be?” I hope so. Greetings from the Netherlands

    Posted May 21, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink
  2. lmt said . . .

    What an absolutely beautiful, perfect picture of Michael. My heart aches for how lovely he was—I see the light that was inside of him just glowing. Thank you, Barbara, for this thoughtful piece. For me, the grief is still ever present. Kind of simmers under the surface and shows itself unexpectedly at times, very painful and with such a sense of loss. Very, very personal— A personal affront when someone speaks of Michael unkindly or with purposeful venom; personal reflection, trying to figure out how best to change and contribute; personal challenge to answer questions and critics in a way that honors Michael; personal journey to understand the spirituality that showed up when Michael left; and a personal intention to remember the man responsible for my little miracle.

    I have memory of every one of those other defining moments. I clearly recall hearing of John Lennon’s murder. I spent some time reflecting on memories of music and biting wit and the sound track of my teens. I felt shock and sadness and wistful remembrance. But, yes, Michael is different. My life thinking and being was not fundamentally altered by John or John Kennedy or Diana. My sense of God and who I am and can be in this world has been affected only by Michael.

    So I think that in the same way that God spoke to us through Michael in his music and message, HE speaks to us now through the passing of this special man.

    Posted May 21, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Permalink
  3. Heidi said . . .

    The deepest of hearfelt gratitude for your writings and teachings Rev. Barbara. You may not realize just HOW MUCH of a lifeline they are as we still try to process this. You provide HEALING at a very critical time. Oh, we’ll figure it out. Eventually. But for now, as that raw, many times overwhelming, grief overtakes in a way that is staggering, we NEED and APPRECIATE every word. Some of us are in pure survival mode. THAT’S how powerful this personal earthquake has been.

    Posted May 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink
  4. jeanne said . . .

    Almost one year later and I can tell you that it still feels as if it happened yesterday. But along with all the tears I’ve cried, it cannot compare to that of what this King endured. I hold on to every albumn and CD like a treasure and these writings are among those treasures because no one can tell the tale of an angel who walked among us like you do Barbara, and I cannot thank you enough.

    Posted May 22, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Permalink
  5. Tania from Australia said . . .

    Thank you once again Rev Barbara for this beautiful piece. I still periodically mourn over Michael. The sudden flood of emotions or the surprise attack of grief comes at the most unexpected moments. It could be a song, a comment about Michael, watching a video tribute or even something as simple as the wind blowing through the trees or the awesome sight of the full moon. It sneaks up and overwhelms and has to have its way before I can continue my day. I never realised what we had until he passed. Its due to the realisation of that loss that im still grieving.

    Today is Pentecost Sunday, which to me means “change”. Change that begins in ones own heart which in turn affects change in the society around us and the world at large. This is what Michael was all about. “Make that change” “Change the world” “Heal the world” “We are here to change the world”. There are so many messages in his songs to us about what we are called to do as citizens of this world. Our planet needs so much love and compassion at this time that I believe those on this spiritual journey have been called by God through Michael to continue what he has started and what he has been trying to tell us all his life through song and speech and performance.

    In “Another Part of Me” Michael says:
    We’re taking over
    We have the truth
    This is the mission
    To see it through

    We’re sending out
    A major love
    And this is our
    Message to you
    The planets are lining up
    We’re bringing brighter days
    They’re all in line
    Waiting for you
    Can’t you see?
    You’re just another part of me”

    I think those left behind who bear this grief are also called to be an extension of Michael and carry on his message of love to the whole planet. Each of us are now the torchbearers. Let’s all shine together and make that change! With love and in love

    Posted May 23, 2010 at 5:55 am | Permalink
  6. Anne Mette Jepsen said . . .


    Posted May 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
  7. Anne UK said . . .

    Thank you Rev Barbara again for your inspiring and reflecting words. When you write I can hear Michael. There is no doubt in my mind that you know Michael’s soul. He speaks through you all the time. I constantly read and re-read what you have written and every time I read your words a tiny little part of my heart is healed. If I hadn’t found you I just have no idea how I would have coped this last year.Almost a year later and still I find the grief washing over me without any reason when I least expect it. The pain is still raw and it hurts so much; my whole being cries out “Why did you have to go?”

    Slowly I am finding the answer thanks to you. I know what Michael wants us all to do: I have promised Michael in my heart that I will carry on trying to make a change. If we all make little changes, together they make big ones. I try to do things in Michael’s name because he’d be pleased and I feel better. I am trying to protect the environment in my surroundings; I did that before but now it is vitally important to me as it’s all part of Michael’s message. Michael was here for a reason but now I feel that his passing had an even greater effect than any of us realise. His smile lit up the world but under that smile his heart must have been broken by all he was subjected to by a world that just didn’t understand. But he never gave up. My dearest wish is that he knows how very loved he is here. I feel personally affronted when people still write awful things about him and his army of love will protect him as we always did. Let’s light our sabres and go onward in Michaels’ name.

    Posted May 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
  8. mjangel said . . .

    I´m still so devastated… I don’t know how… Today is 11 months…
    [Angel from Amsterdam- I want you to get in touch with me. Send me a private email. Rev B.]

    Posted May 25, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink
  9. Kim said . . .

    My heartfelt thanks for this Barbara. I cried when I read this. My heart hurts deeply when I think about what Michael endured; however, I know that outside the grief that has carved out a space to all for more compassion, we will need to focus on what Michael wanted us to do; care for our planet, protect and inspire our children and extend love to everyone. “It’s all for love, L.O.V.E” right?

    Posted May 29, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Permalink
  10. Simona said . . .

    Thank you… I have “stumbled upon” this site by pure chance – but of course it’s really no chance, this is something else altogether, there can be no casualty.
    I will not go into details about my very own experience of Michael through the years – anyway I’m nearly 40, that says something. Michael has been by my side for the best part of my life. He still is, and always will be.
    I am amazed at how simply yet precisely your words, your thoughts define my feelings, what has been going on inside me for the best part of one year now. And the fact that Michael left us only a couple of months after my father suddenly got sick and died – well to me it’s another sign of a deep connection that is meant to tell me something, to let me see something important about myself. And the most wonderful thing is – it was my daughter who took my hand and walked me gently towards Michael once more, without even knowing what she was doing. She started listening to “Heal the World” when reharsing for her school musical months ago. She’s only 8, she never knew Michael Jackson, or what he meant to her mommy or who he was. Yet she was instantly transported into his magic, totally captured by his spirit, so easily and naturally…. I got to see His light in her eyes (the eyes that are the most precious thing in the world for me, that are my light and my love) – and I understood once again and for all that he is Love. As much as it hurts to experience this love and this loss, as much as it breaks my heart – I know this is all meant for something good, and I will listen, and wait, and be ready.

    Posted June 16, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink
  11. Lisa said . . .

    Thank you Rev. Barbara. The other day one of my facebook friends said something that I thought to be so true: She said that before Michael died, God chose his fans; after Michael died, Michael did. So profound! And I have been thinking the same thing! I was not an avid Michael Jackson fan before he died although I never believed the lies (I am very intuitive.) I loved his music but in the years between 2003 and 2005 I felt a strong spiritual connection. I literally felt his pain when he was going through the trials. He was so hurt, so sad; the pain he felt was as if the lies, the prosecution team and the media were all basically tearing apart Michael’s light, his God Essence. So when he died, I felt like Michael took a little piece of my heart, and in its place left this awesome spiritual awakening that I have never before experienced. When Princess Diana died, I was devastated for weeks. I have had 2 boyfriends and my husband die on me and I was devastated but not to the extend of Michael’s death. I couldn’t sleep and eat for months. It was if he was whispering to me with increased urgency to research him, to get to know him and OMG what I discovered! I cannot seem to put it into words.There have been countless synchronicities with Michalel to the point that at times, I I had surrendered to the conclusion that only GOD knew the answers too. I was astounded! I fell in love with Michael Jackson’s spirit, his love, his heart and to this day, I have a connection with Michael on a spiritual level. At times I question it; at times I totally understand. In retrospect, I have embraced it. I miss him every day. I know deep in my heart that the bridge that Michael has is for a much bigger purpose, and only time will reveal its true essence. [Lisa, I have heard exactly this same story a thousand times from people all over the world. It seems Michael is busy waking people up all over this planet. And yes, it is part of something bigger- stay tuned for more about that later. ~Rev B]

    Posted August 19, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

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