The news that Peaches Geldof had died was shocking. A beautiful young mother who had it all. Children, husband, money, interesting work. Fame. The life she presented looked pretty good.
Peaches was popular on social media, a voice for attachment parents and apparently open about the stresses, strains, joy and intricacies of parenting babies and toddlers. She was, and remains to be, inspirational to me and I’m sure many others too. Her way with words when talking on This Morning to Katie Hopkins was fantastic. The news today that heroin was a contributing factor to her death is tragic. I have been struck by the notion that so many people felt they knew her and yet they did not. I wonder what the secrets and lies are that we all hide from our own public: friends, families, work colleagues, neighbours. Whilst they may not be as extreme as a drug addiction I am sure that they are there.
Dear old Katie Hopkins has, rather predictably, put her oar in with this tweet:
Well Katie. I’d like to think we would. We all have secrets, lies and private lives. The hypothetical person you talk of in your tweet probably had a lot to offer too. Perhaps her mother also died of a drug overdose when she was a child. Perhaps she didn’t have the money or profile to pull herself out of the life you describe and show the world what she had to offer; but in essence aren’t they the same? Two women, both mothers, both humans, both with drug addictions?
In the UK in 2012 the number of deaths where heroin was a contributing factor was 579. That’s 579 men, women, people’s children, grandchildren, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. That’s 579 tragic deaths from 579 tragic circumstances. 579 people who probably, to some people, represented themselves in a way that wasn’t a true reflection of the situation they were in.
Whether a mother dies – in her large private home with wealth surrounding her or ‘on benefits living on a council estate’ – it is a tragedy. A tragedy for that woman, a tragedy for her children and for her family. Peaches lived her life in public and so her death has been in public too and so, as the public, we react with shock and horror and compassion for her and her family. Would we react with the same compassion to the death of another woman in the same circumstances? I hope so.