Kindred Death


Debbie Reynolds, mother of Carrie Fisher, has died one day after the death of her daughter. The clinical cause is stroke, and no doubt the stress of her beloved daughter’s demise played a role, but what the coroner would never write in his report is “kindred death: broken heart.”

It happens. We all have stories of spouses who die unexpectedly only days or weeks after the death of their lifelong partners. The same can occur in parent-child and spouse relationships. Sometimes the brain tells the body to follow and the body listens.

From a deeply religious point of view, there’s something Romantic to kindred death. To join family in the after life is the ultimate sacrifice, a paramount expression of love. But you need to own stock in the alleged oxymoron “after life” to pull that off.

On the other side of the coin, we have widows and widowers, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters who live years, decades, half a century beyond the deaths of their loved ones. Still, kindred death, sooner or decidedly later, is kindred death. In the gaping eons of time, 50 years is all one and as insignificant as not.

Rest in peace, Debbie and Carrie. As in life, in peace and together.