This weekend has been full of sadness.
We watched the news in horror as heartwrenching photos of dying children in Somalia were replaced by those of a bombing and a massacre in Norway. At present the death toll is 93, most of them adolescents attending a camp. As the mother of teens I can barely comprehend the enormity of this tragedy and its aftermath, it almost seems disrespectful to even write about something which will have such profound repercussions for so many families and my heart goes out to them.
Then there was the death of Amy Winehouse yesterday and as soon as it was announced the social media started to buzz about her well-documented issues. Some people had little sympathy for her. But in amongst this I started to think about her family, about how helpless they must have felt over the last years. Because addiction, whether to a substance or a person, is a destructive illness and like most mental health issues it is not something you can switch off at will, even with the best professional input. This seems to be a point missed by many. I know from personal experience that caring for and about someone with a mental health problem, knowing that there is little you can do to help, is one of the hardest things. We don't yet know the exact cause of Amy's death, but addiction and despair can hit anyone and they are certainly reflected in Amy's music.
So I don't think yesterday was, as some have complained, about the perceived value of one famous life over many young ones. It shouldn't be about glamourising or demonising addiction either. It should be about remembering both the numerous young lives lost before they'd hardly begun and a tremendous talent who will never be forgotten.