On Bowie and Rickman: Don’t mourn those who live forever

Approx Reading Time-10What a week. First David Bowie, now Alan Rickman. We should be sad, right? Wrong. They haven’t gone anywhere.


If this week wore a frock, it’d be coloured the blackest of funereal black, and nary a speck of optimism would be reflected in its veil. The facts are stark. First David Bowie, now Alan Rickman.

But to those feeling desolate, shattered, fragmentally sparse – those spread hopelessly upon bathroom floors and breakfast tables – know this: they’re not dead. So before you grasp for the meaning of those taken too soon or recruit IMDB to find the most fitting words they spoke to define them, know that it’s a pointless endeavour.

Why? Because they’re not gone. At least not the versions of them we knew.

We don’t know these people, we know their work. And the work hasn’t changed.

Rickman still breathes, as he ruthlessly prunes points from Gryffindor. Bowie still walks, leading his crew away from the excavator warning us not to seek council with Major Tom. The flags atop the Everest of their genius flap proudly, impervious to their masters’ morality – their artistic output available on an endless loop, until we replace theirs with the latest name to be scratched from the ledger.

How can I be so cold? I went through the same thing with the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman. His death taught me an obvious lesson. I tap danced on the seven stages of loss. I mourned his passing. My heart bled for the future possibilities wasted. I cynically proposed a trade on social media to take a lesser mortal. I was a wreck.

One week on from PSH’s exit, I honoured the man with a mini-marathon. And there he was, explaining his (lame) new car to Dirk Diggler before being rebuked re: sexual congress. It felt the same as it always did. He was a character. He was still the Philip Seymour Hoffman I knew. He was still in his usual place, and death did not erode his brilliance.

For those who especially feel the loss this morning, think back at those grand moments they enabled in your lives and shed not a tear. Know that those memories can be brought back to life by the lightning bolt of Google. Those we lost this week are still a mere sentence away.

So, this weekend, loose Modern Love and run down the street lovestruck as always or awkwardly giggle your way through that chafingly awkward scene in Love Actually where Alan Rickman’s Harry has bought wife Karen (Emma Thompson) a Joni Mitchell CD and not the gold necklace she was expecting.

Oh, Alan. You dog.

Do it, and you’ll see my point.

It’ll feel the same, because it is. Once an entertainer, always an entertainer, and nothing as prosaic as last words will cease the narrative.

Type no epitaph. Seek no funereal emoji.

Turn that frown upside down and press play.

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