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And this is my column this week.
January 30, 2014 2:45 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine died on the weekend. She was young and it was sudden.

Steve Murray, the National Post's advice columnist, describes the "colour-drained fog that’s trapped me" after the sudden death of a young friend last weekend.
posted by The Card Cheat (31 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ouch.
posted by Toekneesan at 3:01 PM on January 30


.
posted by runehog at 3:02 PM on January 30


Not to be cold, but it always irks me a little that it's taboo to ever say how a young person suddenly died. I feel like whenever I see news of a young person pass away, it never says how, just that it was sudden and unexpected. Is this murder or do their hearts just stop? The anxious, hypochondriac in me needs to know so I can worry about it.

In any case, a very sad read.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:07 PM on January 30 [13 favorites]


Not to be cold, but it always irks me a little that it's taboo to ever say how a young person suddenly died.

The person in question, although Steve doesn't mention her specifically, is Debra Jane Shelly; my understanding is that it had something to do with epilepsy.
posted by mightygodking at 3:08 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Steve Murray, for people who don't follow everything he does, is Chip Zdarsky.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:13 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]


Visceral. Worth reading.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 3:14 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


I had an acquaintance (my next door neighbor) die suddenly at a very young age a few days ago. I didn't really know him but I am feeling an emptiness now.
posted by knoyers at 3:19 PM on January 30


I have these feelings of 'what will I do' sometimes in the dark, or not, if my most loved ones leave me first. I am terrified of trying to live without my most loved one and would almost certainly flee from the surroundings we've shared together for all these years.

Yes, I'm older, and more likely to make my exit sooner, and I'll probably go to Key West.
posted by chuckiebtoo at 3:22 PM on January 30


Zdarsky/Murray previously: 1, 2, 3.
posted by zamboni at 3:33 PM on January 30


It was pitch black and I couldn’t see her and I was afraid to reach out and touch her because what if she was cold?

oh hello worst fear in the world, nice to see you're hanging in someone else's head for a while.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:41 PM on January 30 [27 favorites]


Steve Murray, for people who don't follow everything he does, is Chip Zdarsky.

So who is Chip Zdarsky?
posted by thelonius at 4:07 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Dude who draws sex criminals and harasses Applebee's on Facebook.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:13 PM on January 30


At first I was like, "those cat illustrations are jarringly atonal to the rest of this piece", and then I actually finished RTFA.

I'm struggling in a huge way with life transitions of every kind lately, and this piece resonates with how I've been feeling for, oh, about a year now. Normally I can take some comfort that we're all in this big human mess together, but lately it's become a bit too much.

Nonetheless, I'm glad you shared this.
posted by mykescipark at 4:29 PM on January 30


Dude who draws sex criminals and harasses Applebee's on Facebook.

Ahem. He draws Sex Criminals. Which I guess features sex criminals, of a sort.
posted by Artw at 4:34 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


So raw and in the moment.

The obituary casts some info - it's amazing what a one-word name search plus the city and obituary can turn up.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 4:36 PM on January 30


A sex criminal who hangs out at Applebee's? I think I've misread enough.
posted by squinty at 4:36 PM on January 30


He never got the Aquaman gig.
posted by Artw at 4:39 PM on January 30


You’re reading this and you’re warm and I’m warm and that’s what we’ve got.

That's pretty much the truth of life, isn't it?
posted by tavella at 4:43 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]


OK since I have to do everything myself:

"Chip Zdarsky is a Canadian comic book artist and journalist. He was born Steve Murray but is known by his comics' fan base as Chip Zdarsky, and has also used the pseudonym Todd Diamond. He writes and illustrates an advice column called Extremely Bad Advice for the Canadian national newspaper National Post's The Ampersand, their pop culture section's online edition. He is the creator of Prison Funnies and Monster Cops and artist and co-creator of Sex Criminals with writer Matt Fraction."
posted by thelonius at 4:45 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


It's like that Ayn Rand novel.
posted by Artw at 4:48 PM on January 30


Just to be clear, Murray is more of a satirical columnist and artist, regularly spoofing things like the Canadain Senate through words , drawings and info graphics.

He's a great read, being funny but relevant. Also a great Twitter follow.

This was great and honest.
posted by dry white toast at 5:02 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Aw, Chipper. Hang in there.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:27 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


What a lovely exploration of grief.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:10 PM on January 30


My cousin's best friend was 18 when he died. I didn't know him well, but I do remember he was a very shy and handsome young man on his way to uni, the first in his family. He had two after-school jobs, played sports, cared for his younger siblings, and was just a really good kid in a neighborhood that is usually written off. He was hit while riding his bike to work by a semi that was illegally driving on the same road; the driver speeding so he could get off of it quickly and back onto a legal street. Some sort of short cut between highways, I guess. On our side of town, the cops didn't really give a fig about those kind of traffic violations. The driver didn't even see my cousin's friend. Bad, bad, horrible...

Even if my cousin hadn't expressly banned then-16-year-old me from going to the funeral, I wouldn't have wanted to go. I wanted to remember this young man as he was. My cousin wanted to experience his grief away from me. I think I understood. I'd like to think I did, anyway. He wished his mother wouldn't go, but she was friends with the boy's mom, so. He asked her to sit separately from him, and she did. That was not only his best friend, but also his role model, and after he died my cousin went off the rails a bit for a while, behavior-wise.

I hadn't though of this young man for a long time, but his death, like Ms. Shelly's, was sudden and unexpected and just tore a lot of people up inside. And now my cousin is in his late 40s. I can't imaging that he hasn't thought of his friend most days as he's gone through life in the last 30 years. We haven't talked about it since, but I hope the memory of his friend has inspired my cousin to live until he isn't alive anymore, which was the part of Murray's post that sparked my memory of this tragedy from long ago.

RIP, W.S.
posted by droplet at 8:15 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


I know it's not the same, and the people involved are different, but this reminds me a lot of David Sedaris' article about his sister from last year. I had a few things to say then, but these things still weigh heavy on me, so I'll just say that this was a touching article, and leave it at that.
posted by KGMoney at 8:31 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Chip Zdarsky is the man Toronto could have had instead of Rob Ford and one of the greatest literary minds we have today.

slickling
posted by jason_steakums at 9:12 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Not to be cold, but it always irks me a little that it's taboo to ever say how a young person suddenly died.

My friends and I have recently had to tell people that our close friend died, and it's been hard, at least for me, to tell them how. Partly, maybe irrationally, it seems like an offence to her to be sharing the details of her heart and her brain with others. Another aspect is that I worry my listener will think I'm being tastelessly macabre about it, if I give them the resources to form an image of what happened to her body.

But I think the main disincentive to saying precisely what happened is that the facts, more than euphemisms, make it incontrovertible to me that it happened. Every time I recount the cause of death it feels like officializing what is impossible: that now and forever she will be P...our friend who died.
posted by Beardman at 9:51 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


oh hello worst fear in the world, nice to see you're hanging in someone else's head for a while.

I found an effective way to get over this fear was to have a kid. I mean, now you're going to worry that you'll wake up in the morning and your kid will be dead in their bed, but at least it's a different fear.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:00 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Lutoslawski: "Not to be cold, but it always irks me a little that it's taboo to ever say how a young person suddenly died. I feel like whenever I see news of a young person pass away, it never says how, just that it was sudden and unexpected. Is this murder or do their hearts just stop? The anxious, hypochondriac in me needs to know so I can worry about it......"

As fellow 20something, I'm also really curious as well but I think the curiosity is just to learn about someone's life rather than the hypochondria. My educated guess and with 2 sisters who are nurses, many of the deaths listed without causes tend to stem from issues still considered more socially taboo: drug overdoses, suicide, or an accident that may have been partially attributed by their behavior (drowning, falling with or without influence of alcohol/drugs).
posted by fizzix at 6:05 AM on January 31


This fog, I know it very well, and it's been with me for a long time, and it still creeps up on me again, and again. I learned very early that death is capricious, and in my experience age was no protection.

The first funeral I ever went to was for my friend's older brother. I was 13, and the deceased was 17. He was shot while helping a friend move away from his abusive father. Unfortunately, a string of funeral's followed. The next year my baby cousin. The year after that, my friend Dante was struck by a car waiting for his bus. My mother passed away next-- she was 41. Shortly after that my friend Lee died of Leukemia, he was 17. My best friend at time flipped the family car killing his little brother, we drifted apart after that. Another cousin passed away, he was 6 months younger than me. There were more funerals in between all of this, but those were the expected ones. Both of my grandfathers, elderly friends of the family.

After my mom passed I would often get up in the middle of the night to check on my little brother and dad. When I say get up, I mean just that. and not waking up. I tried my hardest to not sleep anymore, I was afraid that I'd die in my sleep. I was afraid of dying awake too. I spent a good decade convinced I was going to die, or be shot. It's taken me a long time to learn to differentiate between a rational fear of dying and the irrational. But it's hard, and I'm not always successful. Reading about other people losing loved ones at an early age brings back the fog, and the fear and to this day I still reach over and check on my wife a couple of times a week.
posted by nulledge at 10:15 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Sometimes warm is overrated.
posted by lometogo at 9:07 AM on February 1


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