So Many Gone

Image: A pile of stones; sunset. Photo by realworkhard/Pixabay.

We’ve lost so many remarkable people in 2016. The New York Times has published a list of “notable deaths” that is fairly staggering.

The latest death, that of Carrie Fisher, has been particularly wrenching for many of us because of her relative youth: it’s one thing to hear about the deaths of people in their nineties, but Fisher was only 60. Her Princess Leia spoke to a generation of young women, arguing that yes, a woman can be a head of state; yes, she can fight the bad guys. Ms. Fisher herself taught us that mental illness is merely a disease, not a scandal.

We lost people who wrote music that was important to many of us: Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, Guy Clark, and Leonard Cohen. Their music is immortal.

We lost giants, too: Elie Wiesel, Shimon Peres, and Muhammed Ali. On some level, they will be with us forever, but they are gone from this life.

It’s a lot, and these are only a few of the names. On one level, these are people we did not personally know: we don’t mourn them in the same way we mourn for someone close to us. On another level, though, their work or their art put them near the our hearts. We feel the loss. The fact that their work is finished is hard to accept.

May their dear ones be comforted in the arms of friends and family. And may the rest of us carry their memories forward.


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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

4 thoughts on “So Many Gone”

  1. I am saddened at the loss of the special gifts and voices these talented people gave to us and now are silent. Admittedly, I am a bit unnerved by the loss of so many famous and talented people…because some who have left this world are my age or younger. I have also been uncomfortable with the intense focus on the famous, while the war in Nigeria rages on and thousands have been killed. News of this has not creased the headlines. It has taken a back seat to the political circus headlines. Who will be left to mourn the thousands of Nigerian souls that are gone? So many gone. 2016 has not been an easy year.

  2. Thank you Rabbi for helping to voice our collective loss. I also grieve for Gwen Ifil who changed the world in her own way yet we could not grieve because she died right after the election when emotions for everyone were so fraught. And, although Fidel Castro represented a political idealism which seems destructive, his life helped to create such a beautiful and vibrant Cubano community here in the United States, especially in South Florida. I feel lucky to have worked at a high tech company that was founded by two Cuban brothers and to have worked alongside Cuban software engineers, which is kind of rare in the often white-predominant field.

    Can we pray that 2017 will be a year with more kindness, generosity and light? amen!

  3. Beautifully presented and well-thought out. I play the music of the departed, read their words, reap their good works toward world peace and marvel that our world will move on without these remarkable souls in our lives, moving among us, making this a better place for all of us to live in. Thank you for this beautiful post.

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