The following morning, singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home. The details are coming out, but it looks to be the result of a drug overdose that possibly involved cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and ketamine.
Both events were extremely shocking. Most who posted about the Norway deaths were watching the story unfold on Friday. On Saturday morning, many woke up to read their news feeds to discover Winehouse, who was a phenomenal singer but with a very troubled life, was found dead. The stories began about Winehouse’s entry into the “27 club,” joining Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Pete Ham to become the latest member of talented musicians and songwriters who die – usually at the hands of drugs and alcohol.
I remember being a 27-year-old woman. It was six years ago. I was troubled. I wasn’t the most sober woman in the world. I didn’t have paparazzi or tabloids to document my downward spiral into personal destruction, but thankfully I had family and friends who helped pull me out of it. Her story resonates with me. Did I party as hard as her? No, but I knew how partying could mask a lot of the pain.
But then came the worst tragedy of all: The “My tragedy is worse than your tragedy” fights that ensued on Facebook and Twitter. “93 people dead in Norway and my wall is covered with Amy Winehouse.” “The REAL tragedy is that people in Norway are dead.” So the people who mourned the loss of someone they enjoyed listening to were pounced on by current-events hipsters who thought they were more “deep” because they cared more about the Oslo shootings.
As I observed it, I thought, “This is the stupidest flipping fight I have seen in a long time.” Because you know what? Here’s the deal: Music is a universal language. It’s true. Take a CD, a thumb drive, the storage unit of your choice. Put on some music. Maybe some Bob Dylan. Throw in some Diana Ross and the Supremes. Let’s add in Lil’ Wayne. Pink. Beyonce. Michael Jackon. Top it off with some Amy Winehouse and send it to.. let’s say, Costa Rica. Somewhere down the line, people will begin dancing. They will come together. They will forget about all the ails of the world. Music brings us together.
It’s fairly obvious that addiction is among the many things that killed Michael Jackson. But his music surpassed his life.It brought everybody together. From different countries, social backgrounds political affiliations. It didn’t make a difference.
It’s possible to be sad for the horrible things that happen in this world… but sometimes when you hear of the death of someone who, at one time, made you think, made you feel, made you join a bunch of strangers in a singalong – it hits you in a different way. It doesn’t make you shallow or less “hip” than anyone. It makes you human.
Grief is tough. Not everyone handles it in the same way. You deal with yours, and I’ll deal with mine.