As investigators poke through the ashes of Wednesday’s horrific fire, families, friends, coworkers, students, neighbours and other loved ones – and an entire nation – also struggle for answers in the wake of a Barbadian tragedy.
A mother will try to go another day without seeing the faces of her two young children, Riordan and Rhea Barrow.
Their father, Cornelius Barrow, is being remembered as a down-to-earth teacher and reliable colleague.
Some of his coworkers and students have sought counselling, and are banding together to console and support.
Neighbours in Warrens Park South – a bedroom community where folks keep to themselves, have also expressed the wish to meet and get to know each other.
Acts of solidarity and mutual caring are vital during such a dark time. But looking out for your neighbour or friend ought to be a way of life for all times, happy or sad, as it used to be everywhere here.
People nowadays take odd pride in the fact that they don’t know who lives in their gap. Some identify folks by their vehicle’s licence plate numbers.
Others, no doubt through blood, sweat and tears, have elevated their financial status and moved to the ‘heights and the terraces’ leaving behind their old village’s spirit of community and civic-mindedness.
Neighbourhood watches have been re-established around the island. But the initiative is concerned with protecting property and decreasing criminality rather than enabling a loving – yes, loving – environment.
What we definitely need right now is an end to the blame game swirling about those involved in the drama of the Barrows, living and dead.
Since the horrific incident, multiple claims and counter-claims have surfaced, in an attempt to explain, presumably, the circumstances surrounding the deaths.
With the investigation’s working theory of a double-murder and suicide, some have blamed Cornelius Barrow, arguing that he had no right to take the lives of his children – if that is indeed what happened.
On the other hand, others have come to his defence, choosing to lay the blame at the feet of the young mother and estranged wife, Jovona Johnson-Barrow.
The law courts have also come in for a tongue-lashing, with critics questioning the decision-making process of judges and magistrates.
That course of action is the easiest thing to take, but it does nothing to help grieving family members and friends.
The topic of conversation needs to be geared towards ensuring that similar tragedies do not occur.
Proactive remedies – legal, medical, social, even spiritual – rather than knee-jerk reactions need to be the order of the day.
Cries for help, whether direct or indirect, should not and cannot be ignored.
A shoulder to cry on should never be too far away and even in those instances, friends and relatives also have to be mindful of the fact that sometimes professional help may be required.
It is unthinkable to imagine what that grieving mother is now faced with, no matter her role in this domestic tragedy.
Society as a whole needs now to embrace her, encourage her and support her as she goes through what is undoubtedly the most difficult period of her young life.
Likewise, the same must be done for the family of the deceased father.
It serves no purpose to be unkind towards those family members, who are also grieving the death of a loved one.
No fingers should be pointed at them and they should not be ridiculed in any way.
After all, we are all human beings, admonished to “judge not lest ye be judged”.
In a society as close-knit as Barbados has been, where “everybody knows everybody”, now is the time for us to come together to get to really know, understand and respect each. Positive regard of others should be our default.
For most of us, this is an incident which will forever be etched in our memories.
And for those mothers and fathers of young children, it touches especially close to the heart.
While it is indeed a horrible incident, some good can still be taken from it.
Tragedies such as these tend to bring people closer together.
And in a Barbados which has of late been overrun by criminals brandishing guns and knives, an outpouring of love may be just what the doctor ordered.
Love the neighbour as thy self.