Could it have been prevented?
On Saturday, we all heard the news that Amy Winehouse fans dreaded and anticipated for years: She, a Grammy-winning singer, is dead at the age of 27. She was found (alone) in her apartment in London.
Over the years, we saw photos of a drunk Ms. Winehouse stumbling out of bars. We saw videos of her snorting cocaine on stage during performances of her haunting songs. We read about her horrific marriage to and eventual divorce from another addict, Blake Fielder-Civil.
More recently, in June, we saw her too intoxicated to even perform her songs on a stage in Serbia during what was supposed to be the first show of her comeback tour.
Right now, we don't know how Ms. Winehouse died. We can all assume what the cause of death was. An autopsy is scheduled to begin later today. What we do know is that she was an incredibly talented singer. And a troubled young soul who suffered for nearly a decade with drug and alcohol addiction. She surrounded herself with people who reinforced the behavior that likely sped up her demise at such a young age.
Ms. Winehouse's struggles are not unique nor are they rare. So many people are faced with all kinds of addictions and life struggles. Drugs. Alcohol. Abusive relationships. Toxic friendships.
What made her struggles so awful was how public they were. And how alone she clearly was in spite of what promised to be a wildly successful music career. Where was her family? Where were her friends? Or even her management company?
Few interventions were staged over the years. Her father occasionally went to the press and begged her to clean herself up. It never seemed to help.
To me, Ms. Winehouse's life and death are a demonstration of how necessary support and healthy relationships really are. These are two things that this once gorgeous and talented singer never seemed to have. A woman who was capable of writing lyrics so powerful that people viewed her music as healing and cathartic was completely unable to find any healing or peace of her own during her too-short life.
2006's Back to Black continues to be one of the few albums I can still put on and listen to from start to finish. Listening to that album always picked me back up when I was down, which is ironic since so much of the subject matter of that album is about loss, messy relationships and hopelessness.
When I listen to Ms. Winehouse's music (which is quite often) I am always reminded during stressful times that my life isn't so tough after all. I think this is what made her music so appealing.
It made you feel better about yourself because you clearly did not have it as bad as some people. I've always had a supportive family. I've always had great friends. And when I suffered a broken heart or was otherwise in a dark place, I was always surrounded by people who let me heal in my own way... but made sure that I never had one drink too many or sat crying on my couch one too many nights. Amy, until the day she died, had no one.
Despite all of her successes, she was done in by self-destruction. Ultimately, she had to be the one to want to clean herself up, decide to live a sober life and make the effort to salvage her promising singing career but... she also would have needed serious support in order to sustain that.
To put it in terms that anyone could relate to: Amy Winehouse had no one in her life who would take away that last drink of the night or get her up off of her couch before she spiraled into another binge of drug use.
That, truly, is what makes her death unbearably sad.
Sally Turkovich (twoday magazine's NEWEST contributor) is a policy analyst by training, an eyewear stylist by trade and an amateur healthy-living advocate by choice. Friend her on facebook and follow her blogs in the "Best of" section at Pittsburgh's CBS Local .