Posted by: Sarah | July 25, 2011

Norway: A Country In Mourning

On Friday the 22nd July Norwegians were shocked to the core when Anders Behring Breivik exploded a bomb in the city center and then went on to murder over 70 young people on the island of Utøya. The world watched the events unfold over the weekend together with the people of Norway and have united in grief. I’ve received so many messages of support and love for Norway from people across the world through this blog, Facebook and Twitter – it has really shown me that in the words of Norway’s PM tonight “Evil can kill a human, but never defeat a whole people”.

Eliot and I have been watching the TV like most people around the world but yesterday we travelled into Oslo to pay our respect and leave a lit candle outside the cathedral. It was raining but hundreds of people had gathered in silence…in thought…in prayer. It was reality check time. This wasn’t on Sky News or BBC News – this is right here in Oslo. This is very real.

Now I’m not going to summarise the events of last Friday. I think most people who watch or read the news will know the details. I want to share what I’ve been observing.

This includes the incredible strength the people of Norway find in uniting together. The grief they share openly without fear or ridicule – including King Harald and Queen Sonja (right). The pride that makes this nation stronger than ever.

This is Norway showing the world what being Norwegian is really all about.

I have never seen anything like it before starting with tonight when over 150,000 people gathered in Oslo carrying roses to form a “rose parade” in memory of all those who are suffering as a result of this tragedy. A tragedy that is said to be the worst Norway has experienced since WW2. That’s why 700,000 people across the country joined Oslo with rallies across the country to show united support across the nation.

The Crown Prince gave a speech which I have roughly translated below:

“We have chosen to meet hatred with unity. We have chosen to show what we stand for. Norway is a country in mourning. We face a choice. We can choose what this will do to us as a society and as individuals. We can choose that no one should have to stand alone. We can choose to stand together and it is up to each one of us now, it’s up to you and me. Together we have a job to do. Tonight the streets are full of love”

What I find incredible is the reaction. These kind of events simply do not happen in Norway. It’s a “small but strong nation” where nature and freedom are key values. Children are the heart of Norwegian culture and this is where Anders Behring Breivik struck his most deadly blow when he murdered innocent youths. Yet, Norwegians aren’t talking about revenge or hatred. They are grieving, uniting and are defiant. They are looking to the future with more humanity than ever before.

This article was published in a German newspaper and I think summarises what makes Norway so special:

“Even in their deepest sorrow the Norwegians don’t get hysterical. They resist the hate. It is amazing to see how politicians and the whole country reacts. They are sad to the deepest thread of their souls. They cry in dignity. But nobody swears to take revenge. Instead they want even more humanity and democracy. That is one of the most remarkable strengths of that little country.”

I feel so proud of Norway – even though I’m not Norwegian. I’m not sure I would be so composed with my reactions but somehow this mood and approach rubs off. It spreads – in a good way. I’m going to finish this post with a song from YouTube called “Til Til Ungdommen” or “To The Youths”. It was sung at tonight’s rally in Oslo and you can find the English lyrics here.


  1. Hi!

    A rosetog does not translate to rose train but ROSE PARADE!


    • Ah…the same as barnatog on 17 may. Thanks, I will update

  2. Spain stand whit Norway , from Ibiza my condolence.
    A big hug

    • Thanks as always Maria – sending hugs back to Ibiza

  3. Hi Sarah
    What happened in Oslo is still completely surreal to me – it’s all over the news but having experienced a small amount of Norway last year it’s hard to comprehend that it actually happened. Speaking to my Norwegian friends, it’s both inspirational and heartbreaking at how they are about it all – taking what the rest of the world would consider “the higher ground” doesn’t seem a debate to native Norwegians, it’s seems like second nature. They’re an amazing people.

    My thoughts

    • Thanks for your comment – I agree, they really hold incredible strength at such a stressful time.

  4. Thank you!

    As a Norwegian living in the US, I am interested in how people from “other countries” view us and especially this tragic incident. ♥

    • Thanks for the comment Reidun – very sad day for Norwegians around the world. Hope you weren’t directly impacted.

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