In a New York Post interview published this week the poet, singer-songwriter and novelist Leonard Cohen, 82 said ” I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.” He is about to release his latest album but he seems to think that his business with this life is over. He appears to be a man who lives alone despite long relationships in the past, mostly notably with Marianne Ihlen who died in July 2016. Although they had not been together for decades they were still close and he wrote a letter to her in the last days of her life which said:
“Well Marianne it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine… I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”
– Leonard Cohen
As we grow older the death of those around us becomes ever more relevant. Many older people grow isolated because their siblings, friends and partners have already passed away. As each one leaves us maybe one of the side effects is that it loosens our ties with life and helps us to feel ready to go.
The Marie Curie Helper Service offers a valuable service providing companionship and support for isolated people at the end of their lives. And I have seen firsthand how easy it is for people to suddenly realise they have no one close to them to help them through the final weeks of life: it can be a very lonely time. Maybe Leonard Cohen has realised that he doesn’t want to be “the last person standing” and so is ready to go now. It seems an awful shame but maybe he feels he has no one left to love or be loved by. And life has very little meaning without love.