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A joint services military honor guard removes the casket of former President George H.W. Bush from a hearse Monday to carry it into the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington to lie in state.

What does it mean to mourn?

Grief — the emotion of an irreversible loss — is one of the most powerful in the human condition. Yet, read any book or consult any expert on grief, and they’ll tell you the most important way to progress is to return to a sense of normalcy. We cling to our routines, our daily rituals, as a way of finding our wholeness after this traumatic loss.

What does it say when instead of celebrating life in this way — one of acknowledging the loss but reminding that the work of bettering society goes on — we choose the other path of grandiose public outcries and weeping?

What does it say of a democracy, built on the notion of leaders being no different than the normal citizens, when the death of a former leader is treated like the death of a tyrant — with public shutdowns and a halt to all things.

Does death hold this much power over us that we cannot allow for our day-to-day activities to continue?

A man who made his life out of public service and charitable acts surely would not have wanted society to crash to a halt to commemorate his passing. A man who built a public career on humility would not have wanted these over-the-top acts done in his name.

The thousand points of light still shine whether the captain is here or not. Life should not come to a halt because of the passing of one man. Instead, it should inspire all to shine brighter.

Matt Baldwin, Lincoln

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