19 June 2024


On Monday, the baby who did not make it into the land of the living was cremated. It was a private family service at the local crematorium. James, the grieving father, held the small wooden casket that contained his lifeless daughter. Such a tragedy. What does a celebrant or a presiding priest find to say about a life that was snuffed out before it began?  Heartbreaking.

On Sunday, I heard about another death.  On an organised five kilometre park run, Robert,  the father of one of our Frances's best friends dropped dead. He was fifty eight years old. It was just last Saturday.

This man was an obsessive runner, recently competing in several marathons and even long distance ultra-runs. That fatal park run should have been next to nothing to him - just a gentle loosener. He was very fit. He even participated in a few triathlons during this decade.

In May, Robert went to The Himalyas, undertaking at least two long mountain runs in Nepal as well as visiting Everest base camp. For him it was a dream come true but in the end this journey was what probably killed him.

Let me explain. When he returned from Nepal, he noticed a stinging pain in one of his legs but put the thought of it to the back of his mind. With hindsight, it is easy to draw the conclusion that he had acquired a bloodclot from what is known as DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis). That clot probably travelled to his lungs or his heart and when it got there it killed him in an instant.

Blood clots are most likely to occur in the legs of older long distance air travellers. This is why we are encouraged to wear  compression stockings. The squeezing effect encourages healthy blood flow and discourages DVT's from forming.  If you are over fifty it is very wise to don these stockings before boarding any long distance flight.

One good thing could emerge from Robert's preventable death - older people taking heed  and  putting on compression socks before long flights. It could save your life. Please remember this if you have  a long flight coming up.

Robert had much to live for. Two beautiful daughters and five grandchildren and a new woman in his life following a painful divorce from his first wife. I don't mind saying that his death shocked me. A fellow like that, why - you expect him to live forever.

Photo taken last month in Nepal


  1. No one does not die. It is shocking when someone who is seemingly unbelievably fit and healthy dies at such a relatively young age but it is a reminder that no matter what, there are no guarantees.

  2. What a shock to that family! Sounds like he had many running adventures in his too short life.

  3. Robert's death is tragic, but at least he did have a good life up to his sudden death and even made a dream come true with his trip to Nepal. Maybe that can be of some consolation to his grieving family and friends.
    The baby never had a chance. Unspeakably sad.

  4. I often see runners running along the sides of roads and I wonder what car pollution they are breathing in. A very sad post YP. Running takes far too much out of older people.

  5. If I was officiating at the funeral of a baby I would acknowledge the joy that came from a very short life. It may be kicks in the belly and the sound of a heartbeat, for a babe who lived a short time it might be smiles and tiny feet. I would move on to the incomprehensible loss suffered by the family and I would call on attendees to continue to provide support for each other. If they were people of faith I would mention the hope of reunion in the afterlife.
    Seriously though, none of it would help.
    A lot of years ago now, a comparatively young woman got off a long flight to Sydney and died from DVT before she left the airport. There was a lot said about it because being so far from the rest of the world, Australians are at high risk due to long flights.
    What a blow to everyone who expected many more years with Robert

  6. That is terribly sad particularly as it was so preventable.

  7. Some close friends of ours lost their son about a year and a half ago to DVT. He injured his leg while on vacation, flew home the next day and then died in his sleep in bed. He was in his late 30's.

    We also take aspirin before long flights to help prevent this from happening to ourselves.

  8. He's quite a handsome man. Very sad. I try not to wear out my heart by exercise, and I do use the stockings when flying.

  9. So sad to hear of the death of someone otherwise fit and healthy. It just goes to show that there are other things at play which can cause death. I always wear compression stockings when flying even on short hauls. You can never be too careful.

  10. Take care of yourself,

  11. I'm sorry for your losses. They are both tragic.

  12. Unexpected deaths are always extra hard to take in, aren't they. The funeral for the baby must have been heartbreaking. For my own part I think I'm somehow (in general) less surprised when things happen to people (like athletes) who are constantly physically challenging themselves to the utmost, though.

  13. I can't imagine having to bury, or cremate, my baby. I've had patients that have had babies that have died and fifty years later, they still think of their baby. I don't know if I would survive that.
    And the runner, bloody hell. Doesn't matter what we do, exercise, diet, medications, death still finds us. His poor family. May they both RIP.


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