No way to prepare for sudden deaths


NEWBURGH, Ind. — The world was shocked Jan. 26, 2020, by the sudden death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others. A helicopter that spiraled through a California sky and crashed took the life of one of the world’s greatest basketball players.

During his career, Bryant played 20 years for the Los Angeles Lakers, leading them to five NBA championships and himself scoring an amazing 33,643 points.  He ranks fourth all-time in NBA career points.

Some of us remember exactly where we were when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

We remember where we were when we heard John Lennon had been murdered, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, when the Space Shuttle Challenger flight exploded in space and when the twin towers of the World Trade Center were attacked on 9/11.  For years, many will remember where they were and what they were doing on the day they got the news about Kobe’s death.

We are shocked that someone so young, famous and so loved and idolized by so many could be snuffed out of this life so suddenly at the age of 41. Kobe had a worldwide fan base. He was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He was loved and adored.  He was involved in the lives of his children and family. In fact, he and his daughter were on their way to a basketball game when the unthinkable happened Sunday morning.

Death often shocks us. We are not shocked when someone is terminal for a long time. We are not shocked when an elderly person dies. We are sad but not shocked. 

We are shocked when the young, the rich and the famous are suddenly taken from us with no warning.

A couple of years ago, we were saddened by the loss of my wife’s mother. She had been sick a long time, so we were not shocked by her death. One morning in 2015, we received a phone call that my wife’s father had died with heart failure while driving his car. My wife fell to the floor in pain, tears and heart-wrenching distress. We were shocked beyond belief that her active, hardworking, loving father who seemed to always keep the world turning had suddenly died.

So death will sadden us but may not always shock us. The deaths that shock us leave us reeling, feeling like the floor has been pulled from underneath us and that we will never stop falling and hurting from the pain of someone’s untimely death.

Any of us can and may die suddenly. How can we prepare? We can’t, really. However, we can make every day count now. Love people. Talk to people. Hug people. Say things to people that you won’t regret or that you will be glad you said.  Live in such a way with people so that when sudden death occurs, you or they are not left devastated but can at least feel relieved that you treated each other the right way. Get your will together, be at peace with God and people and live each day without regret.

Glenn Mollette is an American columnist and author.  He may be contacted at Learn more at  Like his Facebook page at