At noon today Stockholm held a silent minute for the victims of the terror attack on Friday. I was with my colleagues in Parliament and it was a very poignant moment.
After that, I had to walk past where the attack occurred in order to get to my next lesson. I was dreading it but it was beautiful. Thousands of people were laying flowers and there was a great sense of community and love, something you seldom see in Sweden, a country that has not been in a war for hundreds of years.
Swedes tend to be very reserved, and Stockholm is a big fast-moving city. Usually people just hurry on their way, avoiding eye contact, safely enclosed in their bubble of personal space. Today they did just the opposite – they looked at each other, they opened up. There was warmth and love and a sense of community. It felt good. Perhaps one good thing that came out of this terrible event is that we stopped, looked at our fellow Stockholmers and really saw them.
I have never understood memorials of this kind – until today. I lay yellow roses at the site of every death and also on police cars and on the central square. It felt like I was somehow honouring those who had lost their lives, the brave people who helped get everyone to safety, and also sharing something with other Stockholmers. It made me feel stronger and more peaceful. I could somehow share all the emotions I had bottled up all weekend, and I could let out some of the tears that I had been holding inside me.
For me the most heartrending memorial was for Iggy, the beautiful rescue dog* who lost his life on Friday. I was surprised and pleased that he was not a forgotten victim, and that the owner who was sobbing over his body may feel a little better today knowing her furry family member was not forgotten. People left dog treats, toys, chewies, balls (one of which said ‘sleep well little doggie’).
*Iggy was rescued from Ireland through Dog’s Aid and had lived in Sweden since 2012
Stockholm’s famous stone lions (there is a pair of them at every intersection in the city centre) were decorated, including the one that the truck hit.
Police cars were covered with flowers and the police everywhere were being thanked with hugs and flowers (these photos taken with permission)
The square in the centre of Stockholm was full of flowers. The building with the flags flying half-mast is the building the truck drove into. Luckily the bomb + nails in the cab of the truck did not detonate or it would have been way worse than it is.
It is thought that the driver was heading towards the Houses of Parliament (as happened in London), but a guard in an armoured van transporting cash saw where he was going and drove in front of him, causing the truck to swerve into the department store. If he had continued down the road (pictured below) towards the Parliament (500 meters away), the death toll would have been way higher.
A shop window with a peace sign made of flowers
The place where the truck drove into the building, now covered with messages.
All in all, today made me feel so much better. Extremely sad for the victims and their families, yes. Sad for today’s world, yes. But I am grateful for everyone who mourned with me today and made me feel I was not so alone and that there is love in the world.