The Loss of Our Shamans

O'Donoghue's 2

So it’s been a rough start to 2016.  So many great artists lost in the first two weeks of the year.

I continue to be amazed how personal these losses feel.

The first time an artist I loved and had been deeply affected by died was when John Lennon was killed.  I was in high school.  My Mom even understood how deeply I would be affected by this loss because the news broke while I was out somewhere and when I got home she simply said, with great gravity, “You need to go talk to you brother.  He has something to tell you.”  My brother is five years older than me and at that time was my guide in the music world.  I have always appreciated that my Mom understood that I was going to truly grieve the loss of John Lennon and that I needed to hear the news from others who also understood the magnitude of the loss.

There have been many since that night.  Some great actors, some great musicians, some great dancers, some great painters, some great writers…people die.  Artists are people…thus artists die.

I have to agree with this tweet by Juliette@ElusiveJ: “Thinking about how we mourn artists we’ve never met. We don’t cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.”

Exactly.  So when they move on to whatever the next adventure is after this life, we feel the loss deeply, intimately.  We are usually a bit embarrassed by it as well, but we shouldn’t be.  Artists are often, not always, but often a type of shaman.  They guide, they inform, they clarify, they focus, they heal, they push, they demand, they hold us gently as we work desperately to become worthy of their efforts.

So here we sit, dizzy from loss at the beginning of this new year.  Trying to make sense of our lives now that some of our greatest shamans have left us.  But they left their work, they left us bright lights shining along this path to guide us on our way.  It’s up to us to do the walking.

Bliss Out.



Filed under Essays - Non-Fiction

8 Responses to The Loss of Our Shamans

  1. yesh. this. Artist as shaman.

  2. It’s true. These people we have never met can help to define us as much as those closest to us.

    Michael and I felt silly, but we both teared up the other morning while discussing fans leaving flowers at the 9 3/4 platform for Alan Rickman. He and Bowie touched so many lives. It’s heartbreaking.

    For me, the saddest of this also holds out the most comfort. They touched so many hearts, and they will live on for that very reason.

  3. The Elusive J quote nails it.
    You did the same with the shaman metaphor.
    Promise you’ll comfort me when we lose Tom Waits or Dylan?

  4. Beautifully put – and so true xxx