There’s always grief when someone dies young. People react with understandable sadness, acknowledging the tragedy of a life cut short with its potential unmet, the hopes never attained, the dreams unexpectedly set aside. A film from 1991 explored the theme of Dying Young, (a movie that received generally negative reviews).
When a person of fame or celebrity dies (as in the case this past week with Philip Seymour Hoffman), the outpouring of grief comes from more than family and friends. Crowds gathered outside the church in New York where his funeral was conducted. Presumably, many in the crowd only “knew” Hoffman from viewing his on-screen performances.
It’s much the same for other famous people. The fiery automobile death of Paul Walker last November drew stunned fans almost immediately to the crash site. Knowing him through films, especially his Fast and Furious films, Walker’s fans set up a makeshift memorial to honor his life on the spot where he died.
As I was listening to music today, I enjoyed songs by The Carpenters and thought of Karen Carpenter‘s unfortunate death in 1983. Certainly, the deeply emotive response to Princess Diana‘s death in a car crash in 1987 revealed the shared sorrow expressed by people all over the globe who felt as if they had a personal connection to her.
There’s a different response when an older person dies. World leader Ariel Sharon (formerly Prime Minister of Israel) died in January at age 85. Songwriter Pete Seeger also died in January at age 94. The response to their deaths mostly reflected sentiments that they’d lived long lives and it was their time.
Entertainer Phil Everly also died in January at age 74. No, he was “no spring chicken“ (a phrase applied mostly to women), but he’d exceeded his “threescore and ten“ so there were probably few, if any, news reports characterizing his passing as premature or in some way cut short.
Here’s a sonnet (below) that reflects on the universality (no matter our age) of death.
I won’t end this post on what some might consider a depressing note. Yes, death takes us all eventually, but the truth Macbeth expresses (that life is indeed a “walking shadow”) is mitigated (for me) by the words of the Apostle Paul who said death will one day “be swallowed up in victory.”
Such Great News!