I would be lying if I said I was shocked by the news that troubled singer Amy Winehouse has been found dead. At the time of writing, there's no indication that drugs or alcohol caused her death but it's not an unreasonable assumption that they did.
I am incredibly sad, though. Whatever the circumstances, the loss of a young life is terrible and wrong.
Some people, many of whom I like and respect, expressed views on Twitter in reaction to the news of Amy's death that in some way she was less deserving of our sympathy than those who died in Norway. I don't see it that way.
Amy Winehouse was a prodigiously talented musician whose work often reflected her inner struggles. She was clearly a very troubled soul. It's right that someone who with just two albums made such an impact on the music world should make the headlines on their passing. She also deserves our compassion.
For sure, recovery from addiction requires the active work of the addict. That doesn't mean, though, that continuing to take drugs is some sort of self indulgent lifestyle choice. It is not easy to throw off the grip of an addiction and many who try with every ounce of strength they have will fail. Watching someone you love struggle with an addiction is so hard. You go through all manner of emotions and experience, from intense anger with the person to guilt and despair at not being able to help them. The truth is, though, that if they could stop drinking or gambling or drug taking, or whatever, they would. They deserve compassion and understanding not condemnation.
I feel for Amy's parents tonight. The stress, the exhaustion, the constant worry they will have gone through over the past few years is something I wouldn't wish on anybody.
I can't imagine that the interest the tabloid press showed in Amy was in any way helpful. They were always quick to print distressing & intrusive images of Amy. Legal? Yes. Ethical? Not so much.
The sadness I feel at Amy's passing does not diminish my horror at and sympathy for those affected by yesterday's events in Norway. Our hearts are big enough to deal with all sorts of life events at the same time. They have to be.
The loss of a young life, for whatever reason, is searingly sad. Let's have compassion, not condemnation.
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