Yesterday, Harold Ramis died. He was a brilliant comic mind, a gifted director, writer, and performer. Beyond his art, he was also a father, a husband, and a friend. Surely, this loss leaves a gaping hole in the lives of those most closely tied to him and his death makes many of us incredibly sad because we enjoyed so much of what he did.
There is an impulse to share that grief among like minded people. On Twitter, on Facebook, in articles like the one I wrote yesterday. That’s how people express themselves, and while the outpouring might be a comfort from afar to those people in his life, viewed out of the corner of a tear filled eye, make no mistake, our grief does not match theirs and it has zero right to intrude upon or judge it.
Bill Murray is someone who handles fame about as well as anyone I have ever read about. He met Harold Ramis in, I want to say 1972 while working in Chicago at Second City. I may be off on my dates. Together, they combined to bring us the gift that is Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters 2, Groundhog Day, and Meatballs. Amazing work, work that changed the way that we laugh and what we find funny. Behind the scenes, I imagine they had an interesting relatonship. Maybe one day, we’ll learn more about that, but we aren’t owed that.
Yesterday, Bill Murray released the following statement about the death of his friend, Harold Ramis, a man he has known for more than 40 years.
Here is the full statement:
“Harold Ramis and I together did the National Lampoon Show off Broadway, Meatballs, Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day. He earned his keep on this planet. God bless him.”
Some people have read those words and they have felt a sense of disappointment. They’ve said so much on the internet and to their friends about the loss of Harold Ramis. They feel these things and have this deep hurt and yet Murray — this man who was his friend and who actually knew him — releases only a couple of sentences to memorialize Ramis. They are flummoxed, but they are also intruding.
Bill Murray does not owe any of us an insight into his grief over this loss. We have no idea what transpired between these men, we don’t know how Bill Murray handles grief, and we have no right to that information. We also have no right to sit in judgement of the way that he expresses his pain, his anger, and his sense of loss.
There is a difference between what the people who knew this man are feeling and what you are feeling. Be grateful that you don’t have to know the pain of losing a friend and a family member, not scornful of the ones who are going through something that is quite close and uncomfortable. People who really aren’t in a position to worry about how you’ll perceive the way that they remember your friend.