Saying Kaddish for Amy.

While Amy Winehouse’s family are in deep mourning over her untimely death strangers continue to arrive outside where she used to live in Camden to put down flowers, light a candle, pin up a poem or simply write a short message on one of the nearby street signs.

They are saying Kaddish (Jewish mourning prayer) for her in their own unique way.

As if Camden hasn’t got enough tourist attractions, a new one has just been created. The BBC were still there today, but they were hard-pressed to find anyone to interview who spoke English.

Amy seemed to have passed away last Saturday pretty much from natural causes. The post-mortem itself found no cause of death and further findings are not due to be released for another month.

Part of the tragedy of all this is that Amy was on the up when she died. She had reached rock bottom in Serbia recently when, performing drunk, she was booed off stage and the rest of the tour was cancelled.

But in her last public appearance at The Roundhouse in Camden three days before her death she seemed relaxed and healthy when dancing on stage in the background while her god-daughter Dionne Bromfield performed.

Her father felt confident enough to leave her and was en route to New York to perform himself when he heard the news.

Even her security guard thought she was sleeping when he checked in on her in the morning. At the time she was probably already dead. Only when he checked on her a second time did he realise that all was not good.

So it was not the scene that we had all at first suspected; one of Amy sprawled out on the floor surrounded by half empty bottles of alcohol and pills all over the carpet.

Last Saturday, she did not seem to be someone reckless about her life or someone trying to take it, but someone fighting for it. But it was a time when all that had gone on before had, finally, taken its toll on her fragile body and it just gave up.

She seemed to love life and people, whether making music or just serving tea and chocolate biscuits to the photographers camped outside her front door.

As for her troubles she simply embraced them and turned them into fine songs that were made supreme by her mesmerising voice.

Without her dreadful experiences we wouldn’t have got the songs.

9 responses to “Saying Kaddish for Amy.

  1. A sad loss. She could have been a superstar. But life in the fast lane isn’t without problems or temptations…

  2. Devilish Advocate


    It hasn’t been ascertained that Amy died from “natural causes”. If she had of done, that is what the PM would have recorded. The cause of death is “unascertained pending tests” which will either be for toxicology and / or histology. I suspect that she may have died from alcohol poisoning or a drugs overdose, or something like a cocaine heart – none of which are natural causes of death.

    • richardmillett

      Thanks, Devilish. Some newspapers are suggesting she might have died from shock to her body due to withdrawal symptoms. Is that possible? Seems remote to me.

  3. Roberta Moore

    Too young to die. But this is what drugs do to you.
    A pity to lose such a talented girl.

    RIP Amy!

  4. Hi Richard,

    Thank you for this wonderful page. How wonderful that for once I can fully agree with my old friend Gert.

    I would just make one point about the kaddish, which you describe as a “mourner’s prayer”. originally the custom was for mourners to lead the prayers in synagogue during the week, however, some couldn’t and often there were just too many for them all to be cantors. Therefore, one prayer – the kaddish – was given to them.

    The kaddish is not a mourners prayer, in the sense that it makes no mention of death or any related subject. It is just a beautiful way of exalting our Maker and asking Him to establish His kingship and establish peace.
    I used to think that Jew was being told at his most difficult angry, when it us so natural to feel anger or resentment towards heaven, at that moment to testify to his faith.

    After my father died I was forced to further research the topic and discovered that the secret of the kaddish prayer was far simpler. Every human being must sanctify and praise G-d during his life, when one of us dies there is one servant of G-d less and no longer enough kedusha or sanctity in His world. The purpose of the kaddish is to help to restore this equilibrium.

    May Amy’s family be comforted with all others who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem and may we all see in our lifetimes the realization of the final line of the kaddish:

    “He who makes peace in His high holy places, may He bring peace upon us, and upon all Israel……”

  5. richardmillett

    Thanks, as ever, Daniel. Maybe “Sitting Shiva for Amy” would have been a more successful metaphor to use.

  6. Jon Belinfante

    A well written blog article. I would rather we just waited for the results for the post-morterm.
    What I find so sad was here was a young lady that really just wanted to love and be loved and to sing. It is a sad loss of another lovely young person who really just wanted to be happy and give happiness.

  7. You raise an interesting question Jon, as to whether the wish to “be happy and give happiness” is reason enough. Perhaps those who are lucky enough to live higher up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, need more.

    When a man\woman is struggling to put bread on the table, there isn’t much time to think about the meaning of life. But when our basic needs are taken care of, perhaps our soul craves for a greater depth than the happiness that alcohol and drugs might temporarily provide.

    To be sure, I’m not talking about Amy as I know nothing of her or her life. Just a musing.

  8. Devilish Advocate


    You’re right. If her body had just given out like that, she would have died from a heart attack of some description, or a fit – neither of which was found at the PM.

    Jon – We *have* the results of the PM – and it didn’t disclose a cause of death, hence toxicology (and possibly histology) has been taken. The results will be available in a few weeks. They MAY disclose a cause of death, but then again, they may not. Some causes of death are simply unascertainable.