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When it’s a “sudden, unexpected, illness.”

The death, in New York, of a young, successful, recently engaged, outrageously beautiful actress was, her rep has announced, due to – well, there it is in my headline.

It’s an awkward formulation. Sudden and unexpected go with an accident, or with an incident like a heart attack (think of the shocking death of skater Sergei Grinkov); they do not go with illness.

This is the vague, confused, type of formulation that arises in the traumatized hours and days after a totally out of the blue death; typically, the family is overwhelmed with an impulse to protect the complexity and vulnerability of the person from the world’s cruel and prying eyes. They therefore describe an elusive and odd turn of events… Which of course achieves the opposite of their intent, since everyone loves a mystery, and now people are speculating like mad.

Here are the possibilities, if you ask ol’ UD. From most to least likely.

Suicide. The People article I cite quotes her alluding, recently, to “one of the hardest times in my life,” and, by featuring that statement, People is already sort of going there, already implicitly wondering if this woman was troubled and self-destructive.

Drug Overdose. Substance abuse is endemic to the world in which this woman moves. Her loved ones may not be ready to disclose this about her.

Chronic, controlled condition that suddenly goes out of control. Maybe she was, say, epileptic, but drugs had handled it for years. Until they didn’t; and she died of a grand mal seizure.

Actual mystery. People die for unknown reasons more often than you think. It’s not impossible that a coroner could conclude that no discernible organic reason for a death reveals itself.


Update: Looks as though I’m wrong on every score. Might have been an overwhelming viral infection.

Margaret Soltan, August 30, 2022 2:43PM
Posted in: snapshots from new york

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3 Responses to “When it’s a “sudden, unexpected, illness.””

  1. Stephen Karlson Says:

    See also Neena Pacholke, college basketball star, news anchor in a smaller market, recently engaged, on surface looked like she had it all, and now she’s gone.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Stephen: Funny you should mention that. I’ve been pondering her all day too.

  3. Stephen Karlson Says:

    UD: A Rockford TV station is in the same corporation as WAOW, and the newsrooms share a lot of stories, which means the local news kids were shaken up. In addition, not too long ago a Badger soccer player (you might have caught that one) killed herself, and that’s got people wondering if there’s a pattern. (My conjecture: sample still too small for a pattern.)

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