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Attitudes to Premature Death

Australia has recently mourned the tragic death of a young man who died as a result of a freak accident while playing professional cricket. He was a charming, talented and rightly popular person who had the good fortune to play the game he loved for his state and his country. Thousands turned out for his funeral including the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. Three priests officiated at his funeral service, which was broadcast on television. Major cricket matches were postponed out of respect for the young man who died and to give mourning players some time to recover.

I am not finding fault with this but I question our collective and individual reactions to premature death.

A few days after the cricketer’s death, a bicycle rider in a cycling race fell off his bike and was accidentally killed by a following truck that ran over him because it could not stop in time. This became a passing news item; the bicycle race continued and there was no national mourning like that which followed the death of a cricketer.

We know of people who die of work-related accidents and of women who are killed by their partners. We all know of the many people that die prematurely due to accidents on our roads, and the many, many more who die of disease and starvation and war and terrrorism daily.

So what is it that pulls at our heartstrings when a popular young athlete is brought down in his prime but hardly registers when equally deserving people lose their lives?

Do you have an answer?


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