Grania died

June 17, 2019 • 11:00 am

This is very hard to write, and is written through tears. Grania Spingies, a very good friend—though I never met her in person—and someone who, as you probably know, did an enormous amount for this website, passed away yesterday in Cork, Ireland. She was only 49, and would have turned 50 on the 23rd of June.

She leaves behind a mother and two sisters, Gisela and Gunda. Grania’s father was murdered by a burglar in South Africa 18 months ago. Her mother is bedridden and doesn’t recognize anyone, so perhaps it’s a mercy that she doesn’t know her daughter died.

Those who follow this site will know Grania’s involvement with it: she was always there to cover for me when I was on trips, to advise me when I had a website issue or wanted to know if I should write about this or that, and to discuss ideas for posts with me (she gave me plenty of them). She also wrote many of her own posts over the years, keeping us up to date on issues like abortion in Ireland and blasphemy laws.

But more than that: we Skyped nearly every day and exchanged a gazillion emails. She had a pretty solitary existence in Cork, but I made sure we kept in touch. She was a great pleasure to talk to— always rational and sensible, but with a fantastic dry wit. As I said, I never met her, though we were in constant touch for at least eight years. She often spoke of wanting to visit America, and I tempted her with all the great food she could try here that wasn’t available in Ireland, like good Southern barbecue.

On Wednesday she became ill with what seemed to be a stomach ailment. Over the next few days it didn’t go away, and I suggested that she see a doctor. She didn’t like doctors, and simply bought pain medication at the pharmacy. Her illness persisted, and by Friday I began harassing her heavily to get medical attention. On Saturday she still wasn’t better, and I made her promise to go to the doctor—an emergency clinic in Cork—by Sunday at the latest.

Here was our last email exchange from yesterday:

On Sun 16 Jun 2019, 12:32 Jerry Coyne wrote:

Are you going to the doctor today AS YOU PROMISED????

Her response:

Yes. Im on my way.

That was her last email; she never made it to the doctor. According to one of her friends, “As far as we can tell, she collapsed just outside the doctor’s office some time on Sunday and had no pulse. They did CPR and rushed her by ambulance to the hospital.” They will do an autopsy to see what killed her.

It’s 5 a.m. in Hawaii, and my brain isn’t clear enough to write more, but let me post some pictures of Grania sent to me by Gisela.

Grania was born and raised in South Africa. She went to the University of Cape Town and then spent several years teaching small children in a remote area of KwaZulu. About twenty years ago, she decided to leave South Africa and take a job with Schlumberger in Ireland, where she did financial accounting. She was a feminist, a secularist, an atheist, and formerly an active member of Atheist Ireland. She loved animals, and often spoke of her cats Trinket and Pippen and her beloved dog Frodo.

A photo of her in Africa:

Grania just before she moved to Ireland in 1999.

As an atheist, Grainia would simply laugh if she heard me say, “Rest in peace, dear friend”. So all I’ll say is that she brought a lot of light into my life, and into this site—often in ways you don’t know about. I will miss her terribly, as will her family and friends, and my heart goes out to those who were privileged to know her.

This is the way I’ll remember her: with that slight smile I’d see on Skype when she pondered the craziness of the world.

355 thoughts on “Grania died

  1. You have my deepest condolences. The loss of a friend can be hard to bear, thank you for sharing her with us.

  2. That’s awful. From her writing I have no doubt she was a delightful person. Condolences to her family and friends. I will miss her, so I can imagine how those who knew her personally must be feeling.

  3. I’m gutted. My condolences to you and the rest of her family and friends. She will be dearly missed.

  4. oh this is very sad news ! I am fairly new to your blog but I often have seen her name here when you are away or ill. She was simply a woman of great character. My sincere condolences both to you and to her family

  5. I am so, so sorry for your loss and for all the others who knew and loved her. This is so tragic. I didn’t know her personally, of course, as I don’t know you personally, but I read this site every day and it feels like I do (or did). So sad.

  6. My deepest sympathy on the loss of your friend. We will all miss her. This is so sudden and shocking. If only Grania had got to the doctor sooner, perhaps she would still be with us. But I understand her reluctance. I’m a bit that way.

  7. So young, so young… This is so sad.

    Condolences to you, to Grania’s family and to her friends.

    She will be missed.

  8. I’m so very, very sorry to hear this. Grania’s posts were some of my absolute favorites, and the few exchanges I had in the comments with her were an absolute delight. She was kind, knowledgeable, funny, intelligent, and engaging. What a terrible loss.

    Condolences to you, Jerry, and to everyone else who knew and cared for her.

  9. My god, that’s devastating.

    I always looked forward to her take on so many issues, especially those regarding Ireland.

  10. What a shock! I am so sorry about this. Every WEIT regular will have known her name and seen her remarks and posts and understood how important she was to the running of the website. She was part of our strange extended family. My condolences to Jerry and to Grania’s family and friends. Even though we never knew her, we will miss her!

  11. I am so terribly sorry for your loss, Jerry. Grania’s contributions to the WEIT community were always valuable and thought provoking. I am deeply sad 🙁

  12. So sorry to hear the news ,seems she was a good person who led a good life .Don’t know what else to say ,take care .

  13. Oh Jerry…this is mind-blowing. I’m so sorry to hear that Grania has died. I’m so sorry that you’ve lost a dear friend. Y’know, sometimes Cyberfriends can mean as much as a physical friendship in meatspace.

    Grania was a presence here on your site. I was always happy to see when Grania was posting something. You most of all are bereft and impoverished by this death, but so also are those who care for you and your site and feel at home here.

    Goodbye, dear Grania. Thank you for your presence here.

    1. I omitted her sisters and family members and friends. I was so busy focusing on Jerry most of all and failed to express my condolences to the other people who knew and loved her.

  14. I hope, in sending our condolences to her family, we can make clear, through Jerry, our great appreciation for her work on WEIT. She certainly made her mark and will be missed by all of us.

  15. Far too young. This news really, really sucks. At least you’re away from home and on a beautiful island…don’t know if that helps at all though.

  16. I feel… totally shocked… the world is a sadder place. So sorry for Jerry & all her friends – we only knew each other from twitter…

  17. I am sorry to hear this – Grania has been a brilliant contributor to your site over the years. It’s very sad she didn’t take your advice earlier.

  18. This is such sad news; my condolences to those who knew her. I will miss her contributions to this site. I especially appreciated her coverage of the Hili Dialogues when PCC was away or under the weather.

  19. Terrible and devasating.
    I never met her, or even communicated with her, but by being so prominent on WEIT she was, how shall I say it, part of the family.
    Of course I’m reminded of the early death of my wife, at 27. And two weeks ago I got the news that my best South African friend, Ian Everson, was found dead in his apartment in Khartoum.
    Why do all the good ones go, while the evil ones appear to have eternal life?

    1. Strange, she left SA 20 years ago, and I moved to SA 20 years ago (1999).
      So sad she died, really unexpectedly. Could she have been saved if she had gone to a Dr or Hospital earlier?
      We don’t know and these kind of questions drive you crazy.

  20. I am so sorry to hear this. I enjoyed her posts and I know you cared about her a lot. Thinking of you and her family.

  21. I loved seeing her name come up on posts. Of course I didn’t know her at all, but I somehow liked her through her posts. I am so very sad to hear this news.

  22. This is a shock. I also exchanged a number of tweets with her. I always enjoyed her contributions at WEIT, and I’m sorry to see that she’s gone — and so suddenly. I wonder if she had a sudden appendix-related problem. I hope you find out what happened.

  23. What the hell?

    Knowing that Jerry was in transit, I expected to see Grania doing today’s Hili Dialogue. And when it was late, I figured the two got their wires crossed.

    What the hell?

    Like others, I feel as if I should express condolences to Jerry. But the loss isn’t just his. We all need condolences.

    RIP dear Grania.

    1. I did exactly the same thing 🙁

      I fully expected a Grania post when I opened my browser just now

      I’m so sorry for your loss Jerry and I’m glad I got to know her even a little bit by reading her posts

    1. And so young! 🙁

      My sister died when she was 35. Horrible. Horrible.

      My Dad died at 86, after a very full, happy, satisfying life. Very, very different.

      1. I know. I often think how hard it must be to lose a child. I listened to an interview with Carol Burnett and her daughter died at 38. Yet Carol Burnett is 86 now.

      2. My deepest sympathies with Dr. Coyne and Grania’s family.

        A line from the Rubayait of Omar Khayyam comes to mind: “Take the Cash and let the Credit go.” I perceive and conjecture that Grania understood the need for making the most of the present, as opposed to the uncertain future; that perhaps the quality of life is more important than the quantity. That’s my perspective, informed by the passing of my father at age 36 when I was age four. As I’m more than a decade older than Grania, each day is icing on the cake. I take nothing for granted.

        “Any [great soul’s] death diminishes me . . . .”

        – John Donne

  24. I’m not an emotional person, but this sad news made me cry. I could always tell when Grania wrote the Hili Dialogue, because she organized births, deaths, and events into bulleted lists, thus making them easy to read. In her honor, Jerry, consider doing the same.

  25. I don’t understand- I’m astonished and saddened- I’m very confused,… my condolences. I’m so sorry, so sorry….

  26. And only 49! there is no justice and no God. It makes me angry and sad. I’m crying now for a friend I never met, or even talked to. But still.

  27. That’s sad. I always tried to thank her for her contributions. I can’t do that any more. Or maybe I can…thanks Grania.

  28. Jerry, and any of Grania’s family who may be reading this thread, I am very sorry for your loss. Please know that she contributed immensely to many other people’s joy and understanding of this world, and left it a better place than it was before. Which is the best form of immortality.

  29. Terrible, terrible news. She certainly brought light and wit and sense in abundance. She is sorely missed.

    (And this reminds me why I tell my wife and son that I love them, every time I part from them. Memento mori. I’ve had my share of close calls in life; survived them all — so far. Every day above ground and vertical is a good day.)

  30. Nothing is enough to say for such a loss. Still, Jerry and Grania’s family should know that all WEIT readers are thinking of them at this time. Grania’s posts were wonderful and personal, so this feels to most readers like losing a friend too. She’s certainly gone too soon.

  31. Jerry, I am so very sorry. For you, for her family, and for all of us here.

    What a loss of an important voice!


  32. I’m so sorry to hear such sad and unexpected news – sincere condolences to all who loved and knew Grania.

  33. I am so sorry. I can offer no words that have not already been written but I am truly sorry for you and us. The loss of her words, voice and intellect is sad for us all.

  34. Very sad news. I so enjoyed her contributions to this site. She will be sorely missed. My sympathy to you and, of course, her family.

  35. My condolences to Jerry and Grania’s family. Grania was a wonderful contributor to this site and many other places/things.

    (Probably not the time to speculate; but might this be, based on symptoms and her age, an aneurysm in the lower aorta (abdominal area)? These things seem to almost always hit people in their late 40s/50s. One of these very nearly killed the father of one of my wife’s students. He had just enough time to dial 9-1-1 on his phone and that saved him (after lengthy treatment in hospital).)

  36. What tragic news! There’s no way to express how much she will be missed–especially by Jerry, but by all of us. She enriched so many lives. So very sad.

  37. This is such tragic news. I was looking forward to her posts while you were away and her frequent contributions to Hili Dialogue; now, in a flash, no more. I’m sure going to miss her presence on WEIT. My deepest condolences to her family and to you to you for the loss of your friend and sometime WEIT accomplice (I use that word in a positive sense and with some humor. Grania had a droll sense of humor, I thought.)

  38. This is very sad news. I never met her but from what she placed on this site she was a good person. To go so quickly is unbelievable, to go so young with so much of her life still ahead of her is very sad. She will be missed.

  39. She made a brilliant mark on the world. I am grateful for brilliant people like Grania. Did she have other writings besides these posts?
    Her writing will keep her alive and relevant for a long time.

  40. My heart is broken for you and for all of us who have enjoyed her presence and assistance on this site. This post came as such an unexpected punch in the gut. I’m just so sorry for you and for her family.

  41. Grania was an absolute treasure and joy. This is dreadful news.

    We were lucky to know her. I was going to put the word ‘know’ in quotes because we knew her only through the internet, but I think we are often more our real selves online, than otherwise. She was as real as it gets — certainly to me.

    I miss her already.

    1. Me too.

      I don’t like today. I can’t imagine what it’s like for her family members and close friends like Jerry. I hope there is some condolence in knowing how well Grania was regarded by people around the world.

  42. I corresponded with Grania a couple of years ago about her family name’s origin. Spingies is a surname secondarily German but originally Lithuanian in the form “Spingys”. A related word is spindejimas, a noun meaning shine, radiance and brilliance. Another is spingseti, to glimmer or to twinkle as would a star. The news about her was so shocking.

  43. A very sad news. I am sorry for you.

    Je vous présente, à vous ainsi qu’à sa famille, toutes mes sympathies et mes condoléances pour cette perte soudaine.

  44. Jerry, your life was enriched by Grania, and because of you, all of our lives were enriched by her. I am very sad she is gone. I will miss her informative and upbeat presence on this site. Thank you for the pictures of her.

  45. This news brought tears to my eyes. I too expected to see her byline this morning as jerry was some 8 or more time zones to the west today. I felt i knew her from her writings on the site and particularly a couple of direct replies to my comments. I did not know that you, jerry, enjoyed a skype relationship with her…so personal..i am very sorry for this very dificult loss for all but particularly for you.

  46. Sorry for the loss of your good friend. Perhaps readers might consider posting condolences here and lets see how many thousands we can get in tribute to her great life and appreciation for what you have given us.

  47. What a tragic death. The last thing I expected when clicking on WEIT. She was part of the furniture at WEIT, along with Hili and PCC and the ducks. It’s will not be the same without her.

    My condolences to you, her family, and to all the readers here who are grieving.

  48. This is shocking news. I am so so sorry to hear this Jerry. This is a monumental loss. Condolences to you.I always looked forward to her posts. I just feel stunned, even though I didn’t know her except through the website.
    She was so young. What a terrible loss.

    1. My condolences to her family also. I hope they read the comments and realize how important and appreciated she was on this website.

      1. I have given the link to this site to her sister Gisela and the friends that I know. Gisela has posted here, and I hope lots of other people do, too, to show her family how widely she was liked and admired.

        Thanks to everyone for their condolences. I and especially her family will appreciate them.

  49. 49 years is far too few, though of course it’s impossible to say how many might be enough. I’ve also lost cyber-friends, and the pain is the same as for lost real-life friends. Please accept my condolences. Not enough time, there’s never enough time.

  50. Oh no.
    Words are so inadequate to express how sorry i am for your – and our – loss.
    The world suddenly feels smaller, and colder, and a little bit greyer.

  51. I just don’t have the words to express myself but I’m so sorry that she is gone. Please accept my very sincere condolences.

  52. Just in from work and looking forward to a cuppa and today’s Hili dialogue, the ducks and Jerry’s posting about science, Hawaii, atheism, the universe and everything and BANG! Weeping, though I’ve never met Grania. Bugger! Bugger! Bugger! How damned sad and unfair!
    So very sorry for your loss, Jerry, and to Grania’s family. Words now fail me…

    1. I am usually a few days or even weeks behind reading WEIT, so I am only seeing the news today. I am so sorry to hear of Grania’s death. Like others here I only knew her through her contributions to the discussions and especially the Daily Hili dialogues. She will be missed.

      My condolences to her family and friends, and to you, Jerry, for this loss.


  53. I had always enjoyed her contributions on this website. I feel that I also knew her and I am saddened that she will no longer be around.

    She and I were Facebook friends.

  54. This website is the first place I turn to when wake up and start my day.

    What a shock to see that news just now.

    What a shock to have such a regular and much appreciated part of my life gone, just like that.

    My condolences to all and especially Jerry.

    So sad.

  55. A horrible shock, and very sad. There is something terribly unjust in seeing a good person die at such a young age. I always enjoyed and appreciated Grania’s contributions and it will be hard to accept she’s gone. Part of this website has passed with her.

  56. Shockingly brutal and sad news. My deepest sympathy to Jerry, to Grania’s family, and to all WEIT followers. Like most of us, I expected a Grania’s Hili dialogue today…

  57. I thought perhaps something unusual had happened because no new articles were put up this morning, but this news is the last I would have guessed. This is tragic. I am so sorry for those closest to her, Jerry, other friends and her family. I’ll miss Grania.

    1. I am five time zones earlier than Hawaii, so my posts will be late here, and, as you might imagine, posting will be very light for the next couple of days. I don’t have the heart for it.

      1. I am so sorry Jerry. Don’t for a moment worry about WEIT. This evening I’ll be raising a very sad toast to Grania.

        1. Yes, seconded. We can look after ourselves and we’ll be here whenever you decide to return.

          1. And so terrible for her family. It is, as Jerry mentions, perhaps a blessing her mum doesn’t comprehend. So hard that her dad died tragically so recently as well.

  58. So sorry for your loss, Professor. You were a very good friend to nag her to see a doctor. Sigh – we will all miss Grania.
    Warning to all to get medical help for any, but ANY, issue that lasts more than two (2) days. They say this about simple fevers that last more than two days; how much more so for a stomach pain. I’m reminded that Audrey Hepburn had a stomach pain for a week before calling her doctor (at the insistence of her son and boyfriend).

    1. Thank you, Nay. I want to second what you told us.

      My grandmother was very sick, but she didn’t go to the doctor because she couldn’t really afford a doctor’s bill. This was before Medicare and Medicaid (for which I’m stupendously grateful now that I’m old), and she was the independent type and didn’t ask my mother to help her with some money.

      Instead she grannie-doctored herself with chicken soup and mustard plasters. But she just got sicker and sicker and finally realized that she really needed to get help.

      She called for a taxi to take her to the hospital – it was late in the day and doctor’s offices were closing – but she never made it. She died in the back seat of the taxi.

      Our dear Grania is gone now, and this is a dreadful loss. I join Nay in hoping that someone will remember this tragedy and go to the doctor in time.

      1. That’s heartbreaking. My mum’s of that kind of mindset, that you don’t bother the doctor about anything unless you’re sure it’s serious, and it terrifies me. She got an infection in her finger in the garden one day and it niggled away at her for the rest of the week; despite insistence from the rest of us she refused to go see anyone and eventually she almost lost her arm after it went black up to the shoulder. I think it scared her, but not enough for my liking because she’s still frighteningly blase about illnesses.

        I’m sorry about your gran. How many lives have been cut short because of a fear of ‘wasting the doctor’s time’?

  59. Bloody hell. What a world.

    I wish we could reach through time and space and give people love, just place some of our own into their frame and vice versa, but in lieu of that I send you best wishes. Keep your chin up, I know everybody hopes you make it through this.

    I was reading a bunch of Larkin poems yesterday with a friend, and all I can think to write is

    – what will survive of us is love –

      1. With tears streaming down my face, I can hardly see to type what exceptionally appropriate names she had. She shared her love with all of us and brought much needed light into this world. Our condolences to Jerry, her family and all of us.

      2. See Post #104 from Bill Morrison:
        Posted June 17, 2019 at 12:29 pm | Permalink
        I corresponded with Grania a couple of years ago about her family name’s origin. Spingies is a surname secondarily German but originally Lithuanian in the form “Spingys”. A related word is spindejimas, a noun meaning shine, radiance and brilliance. Another is spingseti, to glimmer or to twinkle as would a star. The news about her was so shocking.

        Love Shines.

    1. So believers accuse atheists of regarding existence and life, human and otherwise, as meaningless. Your poignant and eloquent words, and your fervent wish, expressed because of Grania’s sad death, truly give lie to that base canard.

      Hey, canard means duck. I think Grania would have appreciated that.

  60. Shocked and saddened – I am so very sorry for this loss. I will greatly miss Grania’s contributions to your site. Condolences to you and her other friends and family.

  61. This catches all of us off guard. So sad, condolences to all who have known her. Grania will be sorely missed.

  62. I am shocked and desperately saddened by your news.  Grania was an integral, and wonderful, part of WEIT and I am stunned by what I have just read.

    Pass all my condolences to her family please.

  63. I’m sad for PCC and the community, and I’m struck how I take for granted that what’s here today will be here tomorrow. She can’t have known how much she was appreciated and how many her presence touched and how deeply. I certainly didn’t, until it was too late.

  64. Jerry, my heartfelt condolences. You have suffered a significant loss.

    I’m glad you put that last email correspondence with her in your post. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of witnessing the sudden and tragic death of someone way too young to die, and know all to well how the brain can replay “what if?” scenarios to torment itself.

    “What if I’d had magical abilities to foresee something nobody would ever expected?” “What if I’d threatened to never speak to her again if she didn’t live-stream herself walking into the clinic in the next fifteen minutes?” And on and on it can go, maddeningly.

    I’d encourage you to just take one clear-headed last look at the simple, concerned, and appropriately insistent correspondence you had with her, acknowledge that you did all that anyone could have been expected to do, and then gently allow yourself to walk away from that whole (imaginary) part of this tragic story. Of course, you may have already done that, being more well-adjusted than I was.

    Take care, Jerry. You’re a good man, and Grania had herself a valuable friend. I hope we have you around for several decades yet.

  65. …Although I didn’t know her very well she always seemed deeply, deeply cool. Properly cool – in the genuine, rebellious, free-thinking way, not the commodified, hipster-clone kind of way.

    I know it’s not often you hear the following words used in an obituary but she really was kick-ass cool.

  66. Shocking and so sad. Sympathies to those who knew her personally. I’m sure had thousands of friends and admirers who knew her through this site.

  67. Deepest condolences to you, Jerry. You had a great friend in Grania and I’m very grateful for all of her input on this site. Try to reflect on all of the inspiring interactions you had with her over the years. Only 49, that’s just way too young. To her family, my sympathies and please know that she touched thousands of us on this website. I will toast her this evening.

  68. This is dreadfully sad news. So sorry for Jerry and Grania’s family. She had become such a familiar voice on this website and her contributions will be sorely missed.

  69. Jerry, I’m shocked, choked up and very sorry to hear that. Sending love and my deepest condolences to you and her family. Though I never communicated with Grania, I loved her contributions to this site–at least those of which I was aware! Life is short and precious and this is a reminder to value every day and treasure every positive relationship we have. Peace.

  70. Like everyone else who follows WEIT, I am stunned and shocked. I always enjoyed enjoyed Grania’s posts and her different worldview. It was truly educational to know how events appeared to her because she had a unique perspective. I am so sorry to hear this. It’s so sad. My sympathy to her family and, of course, to you.

  71. I can barely bear this news.

    Thrice I am just within this
    most recent last two months’ springtime
    — — gutshot.

    Any words of worth are lost on me now.


  72. I always enjoyed her posts.

    So sorry for her departure, and for the loss to everyone she touched.

  73. A lovely obituary to a lovely person. Grania becomes pure energy once again, as do we all. R.I.P.

  74. What a terrible and sudden loss. My heart aches for you, Jerry and all of Grania’s family and friends. She always seemed like someone who would be great to know.

  75. So sorry for your loss! She must have been a beautiful person…
    If you ever wish another Skype pal from a MOT, feel free to hit me up.
    Be well,

  76. Oh how awful. I just saw this as I’ve been so busy at work. How heart breaking that she died so suddenly and from what seemed like such a mundane illness….I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor either and I can totally relate to not wanting to go because it is such a hassle.

    Very sad and tragic to lose her.

  77. This is terrible news. Shocking – so young. I always enjoyed her posts. Condolences to you, her family and friends. Such a loss.

  78. Oh, Jerry, how terrible. A great friend gone so suddenly, and so young. Her voice and contributions to WEIT were wonderful, and will be greatly missed. Courage and peace to her family, and to you.

  79. I’m very sorry for your loss and that of her family.

    I’m currently out of Ireland but if there is anything I can do on my return this Saturday please feel free to contact me or pass on my details to the family, lifts from Dublin airport etc.

  80. I knew Grania in real life. We set up a small Skeptics club together in Cork back in 2010. Grania arranged our first speaker and we had our first memorable meeting in a cafe in Cork city where the conversation ranged from UFOs to moving statues, atheism, cults and antivaxxers, all to the utter bemusement of a poor man sitting beside us, who had no idea what we were on about. Grania had a wonderfully kind temperament and a razor sharp intellect. She was a genuinely caring and friendly person and I’m terribly shocked this evening on hearing such sad news. She will be deeply missed by all of us who knew her.

  81. Losing an acquaintance is sorrowful. Losing a friend who always covered for you is a tragedy. I considered her a member of your family. I am sorry for your loss. Let the tears flow.

  82. Sixty thousand people lost a friend today.

    History, politics, science, informative tweets you’d otherwise miss, and much more were the staple of Grania Spingies’ contributions to this website. Gone too soon. Condolences to her family and to Jerry.

    Andy Thomson

  83. What a shock! As an inveterate reader of this site I’m hit hard by this and feel so sorry that the wonderful Grania left us so early. Her posts were wonderful and no doubt reflective of her personality. My deepest condolences go out to her family and those who knew her personally, and certainly I feel awful for Jerry!

  84. I’m sure this is presumptuous, but if you learn what caused her death, I would greatly appreciate if you could share it with us.
    As has been suggested above, it might have been a burst appendix. My eldest daughter almost died of a burst appendix three years ago and, although she lived, she has had four additional surgeries and continuing complications ever since. As to the potential for it being an aortic rupture, my oldest brother almost died of that and if a conference of heart surgeons hadn’t just been held at the hospital he was taken to, he
    surely would have died. So many ways to depart this planet. One tends to imagine so many possible causes of death. The loss of some humans, such as Grania, is almost more than can be tolerated, even though the love remains.

    I hope that some of Grania’s energy can come my way when our molecules are nearby and we can find some way of getting together; “communicating”. (As you can tell, I’m not a scientist.) Due to the internet and this site, she has communicated with and made friends of many, many people who will miss her. I’m just one. Thanks to Jerry. Thanks to Grania.

    1. Although we don’t like to acknowledge it – sometimes there is not much between us and the void. We are actually fragile creatures. Condolences.

  85. This is shocking and very saddening. As so many others have said, I knew Grania only through this site, but I regarded her as a friend, and I mourn her as one. She will be missed by everyone in the WEIT community.

  86. Life can be unfair but the death of a great human being is even more unfair.
    No words can truly express loss so there will be many tears for you and all who knew and loved her from many strangers instead.

  87. I’m so sorry for your loss, Jerry. I always wondered who Grania was; now I know how important she was……

  88. This is so sad. And much too young. My condolences to those who knew her. And for we who did not, she touched our lives and now is gone, and the bell has tolled for one more…

  89. This is devastating news. What can I say? Condolences from early morning Tokyo to Grania’s family and friends.

  90. What a tragic end, I am shocked and saddened to tears. Like everyone here, I felt I knew her, and all of us did know her well enough to realize what a wonderful person she was.

  91. It feels very bad to hear this, despite my connection to her being only reading what she wrote. My deepest sympathies, Jerry.

  92. Very sad to hear this. I hope you are treating yourself well at this time. Yes, her writing was a good indicator of her personality and will be missed by every reader of this site.

  93. Very sad to hear this. I hope you are treating yourself well at this time. Yes, her writing was a good indicator of her personality and will be missed by every reader of this site.

  94. Bjeezus what a shock… Grania what a sad way for you to leave us, your reach beyond Cork with humility and reason will stay with me, what a fine alround person.
    Condolences Prof(E) her family, her friends.
    Haere ra Grania.

  95. That is a shock. So sudden, too. I always appreciated her posts. They were an integral part of this site, and they’ll be missed.

    I only knew her from her posts, but I think she would have been a great person to know in real life. I’m truly saddened to hear of her death.


  96. There is very little more to say… I too am shocked and saddened and will miss Grania’s contributions with her dry sense of humour. Condolences to you, Jerry, her family and to the many WEIT friends as evidenced above.

  97. This is like a stab to the solar plexus.
    We share in your heartbreak, dear Jerry. Grania will be sorely missed. Such a wise owl with a quirky sense of humour.
    Too young a person and way too sudden a depature.
    Life is so damn fleeting.
    Let’s remember to say thank you and I love and appreciate you before it’s too late.

  98. My condolences on the sudden death of Grania, Jerry. To lose a friend like that when you are so far away must be especially distressing. The thoughts of your great community of followers are with you.

  99. An emotional shiver went through me when I read your posting of Grania’s death. The many, many comments here surely demonstrate that you do not walk alone in your grief. Peace.

  100. This is really shocking news. Like many others, I looked for a posting from Grania this morning, and I had a bad feeling when there wasn’t one. But never did I think it would be this bad. Much love to you, Jerry, and to Grania’s family. She will be missed so much on WEIT.

  101. My deepest sympathies to Grania’s family, colleagues and friends and to all who have lost a special touchstone in their lives. I have no words.

    Professor, If their is anything your public can do, ask and I wager it will be done.

    Grania, Thank you.

    Paul Peed

  102. Dear Jerry,
    What a sad task to put this post out.
    Thank you for sharing, I know it must have been dreadful for you to put it together as a tribute to your friend.

    Grania has touched the lives all over the world, memories of her will live on.

    Please stay safe dear Prof.
    (I can hardly see through the tears)

  103. This is so sudden and tragic. Although it is my first time posting, I have been a quiet member of the PCC community for years and I know how important Grania was to this website. My deepest condolences to her family, Professor Coyne and to all here. She will really be missed.

  104. I’m so sorry. This is such terrible news. Sending love and purrs to all who are mourning her loss.

  105. Awful news, nothing I can really say but as many have said it is as though we knew her. She will certainly be a memory we will always cherish.

  106. I apologize if this is too much :

    For this scenario – death at such a young age – other emotions surface, like anger – and a demand for an explanation (in the grand sense, not in the literal personal business sense) that will really never come, if it would help at all. And a sense of injustice- this is not right. Yet, there is nothing anyone can do. I do not speak from personal experience but this is my attempt to show I am taking it seriously, that I might learn from it.

      1. I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
        So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
        Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
        With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

        Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
        Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
        A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
        A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

        The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
        They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
        Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
        More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

        Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
        Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
        Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
        I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

        1. Great poem – Looks like the author and poem is:

          Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Dirge Without Music” from Collected Poems © 1928, 1955 by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis

          1. Also from Millay,

            “My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night; but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends — it gives a lovely light!”

    1. I add another thought : the feeling that surely, there was something I could have done – some way, something simple someone could have done, to avoid this… a helplessness….

  107. My condolences to Jerry and all who knew her. I lost a close friend to similar circumstances in February. In his case, it was also stomach pain, and he also did not see a doctor until it was too late. Let this be a reminder to make your health a priority.

  108. My condolences to all Grania’s friends and family. What a great loss at such a young age. She will be sadly missed.

  109. I’m very sorry to hear this bad news. I’ve been reading this site for a few years now and read many of Grania’s posts, including the Hili dialogues during Dr. Coyne’s travels and her thoughtful posts and comments on many issues. My condolences to Dr. Coyne and Grania’s friends and family.

  110. I’m really sorry. Have been reading her here for so long…no,for so little time. I’ll miss her. Peace.

  111. I’m so shocked by this, as I was by Cyrus’s death, though this was totally unexpected. I always looked forward to Grania’s posts when you were traveling, as well as her other contributions. My sympathies to you, Jerry, most especially, but also to all who knew her.

  112. Oh Grania, we’ve so appreciated your powers of reason and concise writing and sharp intellect. I wish you could hear our appreciation but perhaps your family and Jerry will in your stead.

    Say hi to Hitch for us. He also “left our party” prematurely and we sorely miss him too. I’m sure Grania and Hitch have much to discuss about the only conversation worth having. I know, I know…it’s a childish notion and one that I don’t believe myself but there is something poetic and ennobling about it that makes me smile. I sincerely hope it does to you all as well after this tragic and sudden news.

  113. What a profound loss for you, Jerry. A loss for all of us who love your blog. Arms around you.

    1. I was so saddened to read of Grania‘s death. She wrote such interesting posts and I learned a lot. My condolences to you and Grania‘s family and friends. Such a brilliant light should always be remembered.

  114. Hi Jerry So shocked and sad to hear this news. Grania will be sorely missed and my sympathies to her family and all her friends.

  115. Shocking and devastating! I feel for you and all who knew and loved her and knew of her. My day today is a bit more precious to me because you shared this news. None of us know how many days we have left. It’s very sobering for a shocking loss like this to strike so suddenly. 🙁 (((hugs)))

  116. Shocked. Was kind of expecting a post by her tomorrow because Jerry has gone on a vacation. She is much too young to die which makes it even sadder. Will miss her contributions to WEIT. My condolences to her good friend Jerry and her family.

  117. It is really sad to hear that she has died so young. I loved her posts. Her take on the Hili dialogue and other posts were always an interesting change. And from a fellow gamer,



    1. Hey, I got that! That’s cool, I didn’t know anyone had taken that meme and ran with it in that way. Clever and sweet.

  118. All of us will miss her. Let’s not do the RIP bit; rather let’s celebrate the arc over which she soared.

  119. HERE IS A FINE TRIBUTE to Grania from Michael Nugent of Atheist, Ireland that covers her face-to-face active years in ‘the movement’.

    To Grania’s folks [the three Gs are now two I guess]: She was no bullshit, scrupulously intellectually honest & very funny in a smart, witty way. She concentrated on the important stuff [burkinis, Irish laundry women’s slavery, gaming & dogs] & ignored the Bollix. That should go on her stone if she’s having one. we are all better for knowing her!

  120. I only knew Grania through reading her contributions here. These were always a joy to read, sensible and engagingly written, she must have been a lovely person.

    Her death is a sad loss for all of us that read this site. It is a much greater loss to her friends and family, my sympathy to them.

  121. She was too young to leave us. I’ve always enjoyed her posts. It’s a sad day for WEIT readers, Jerry, and especially her family and friends. May her intellectual impact on readers here live on.

  122. Goddammit! Why are the good people dying?

    I expected a Hili dialogue from Grania today, and was utterly shocked when I saw that she had died. She was so young! It’s not fair!

    Grania, we will all miss you greatly. You brought so much joy and sense into our lives. Even though we never met or corresponded, I feel as though you were my friend.

    My sincere condolences to all Grania’s loved ones.

  123. A wise person once told me that grief is, in a way, something to be appreciated, for to feel it means that we have loved and loved well. To grieve is to celebrate the one you miss and all she meant to you. This post and its comments read like a long, loud song in praise of Grania, and I’ll add my voice to say thanks for making me think, wonder, and smile while you were here.

  124. Some people leave a lovely & clear imprint in the soil on which they’ve trodden.
    WEIT readers will know that Grania has certainly done that.
    Sincere condolences to all of Grania’s family, to you, Professor Coyne on the loss of a dear friend and, indeed, to the whole WEIT community who mourn. She will certainly be missed.

  125. Such a dreadful shock and profound loss! My heartfelt sympathies to her family, friends, colleagues, and of course you, Jerry.

  126. What awful news. I saw Michael Nugent’s post about this a few minutes ago and hoped in vain that I was dreaming.
    I had been in contact with Grania a few times over the years. She had a great sense of humor and was always helpful when asked anything.
    She had such an insightful knowledge of the Irish political and social situation I never realized she was not originally from that part of the world.
    She was also a really good writer – I loved reading her posts here.
    Condolences to Jerry, her family and all who knew her.

  127. I was shocked and deeply grieved to learn you have lost such a good friend. I’ve read and admired Grania’s contributions to the website. The world is a darker place without her.

  128. I am in tears on hearing this.

    As a fellow gamer, I appreciated the occasional video game allusions in her remarks. (Among her many many contributions.)

    She will be sorely missed.

  129. My deepest condolences to her family, you and the rest of the WEIT community. She will be missed.

  130. Jerry. It may be from your description that Grania may have had an “aortic catastrophe” (a dissection or a rupture) which could account for severe stomach or abdominal pain.
    I had a dissection myself five years ago and was fortunate to survive. It can manifest itself as you describe and also prove lethal in five minutes.
    It does not console much to speculate, but I find that understanding what has happened can be helpful.
    I hope I made Grania laugh once or twice over the years.
    All the best.

    1. I’ve seen photos of Grania with a cigarette. If she still smoked, I wonder if she could have had a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, the likelihood of which is increased by smoking, and people often die before they get to the doctor.

      1. A relative of mine died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm. He went the same way as has been described for Grania—abdominal pain for several days then dropped in his tracks. Instantaneous. It is a small solace, but our dear Grania would have felt nothing—just passed out.

  131. So shocked and saddened by this terrible news. Condolences to Grania’s family and to Jerry. She will be missed by all the WEIT community.

  132. After a couple of days offline, I was deeply shocked to log in and read the headline. Thank you, Jerry, for your very touching tribute to Grania. The sheer number of comments says a great deal about much she meant to so many people.
    Many of those comments are beautifully expressed. I haven’t read them all, but I did check to see if there was one from Sastra (whose comments I have valued in the past). There was, and as others have already said, she was spot on. There’s nothing more I can say, but I would just like to add my condolences.

  133. Damn. Her posts were always so interesting. She will be sorely missed. My thoughts (but not prayers) are with you.


  134. Sorry to hear this news. Condolences to you and to her other friends and family. We will all miss her here.

  135. Stunned! I had to refresh my browser to see the entire post – I wsa only getting bits of it. I guess my browser was in shock, too.

    Deepest condolences to all who were part of her life.

    Guessing either ruptured appendix of gall bladder, combined with sepsis. If it indeed turns out to be gall bladder, she joins my predecessor whose restoration effort I’m continuing. Yet he was the head of the county health department, described by many as an “excellent disgnostician”. We later learned that he knew that his gall bladder was bad. It’s a long and tearful story why he waived off having his gall bladder out, but when he finally got to the ER, he told the MD’s there, “I waited too long.” By then, the gall bladder had become necrotic and had ruptured.

  136. What grievously sad news. Grania was always so reliably present, intelligent and humane.

    Condolences, Jerry.

  137. To everyone who knew her, I’m sorry for your loss. I didn’t know her but, in a way, feel like I did and feel the loss. I read her posts on Why Evolution is True, one of my first reads each morning. I will miss her.

  138. Too bad, Jerry, that you never met Grania. But she was a perfect substitute, so whenever you were away or for other reasons not able to post as much as you wanted, I didn’t worry.
    Hopefully you will overcome the loss. Greetings.-

  139. Such horrible news!

    I’m struck by what Grania’s sisters have been through – three cruel losses in such a short time. If you’re reading this, Gisela and Gunda, my deepest sympathies. It’s just not fair.

    Dr. Coyne, I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for describing your friendship with Grania. I always wondered about what was evidently a special relationship. Thanks too for posting pictures of her. I can finally put a face to her words.

    I know that things will be more difficult here at WEIT with Grania’s loss, but please don’t hesitate to ask if there’s something you need. Among your thousands of subscribers (and who knows how many others like me who follow you by RSS and other means), I’m sure we can fill Grania’s shoes. It would be an honour to do so in her memory.

    Ottawa, ON, Canada

  140. My sincere condolences, Jerry.

    That was an illustrative tribute after seeing so much of her writing with so little else to identify the author. It sounds like a worthy collaboration, and at least as pronounced a friendship.

  141. I wrote directly to Grania’s friend Kathryn, who let Jerry know about Grania’s death. I wasn’t going to write here too, but I’ve changed my mind because I want everyone who knew Grania to know just how many of us there are who thought she was special.

    My favourite memory of Grania is all the Lord of the Rings, Dr Who, and Star Trek (etc.) allusions she managed to get into her Hili Dialogue posts. Also, there were the occasions when she sent Jerry a tweet with an hilarious allusion to one of those shows/movies. He didn’t get the allusions, of course, but when she told him to, “trust me, everyone else will,” she was right, as Jerry discovered when he took her word for it. The world of WEIT will be so much less without her.

    Those of us who are lucky enough to be good friends with Jerry also know just what a wonderful friend she has been to him over the years. They were there for each other, albeit at a distance. Having the capacity to be such a good friend over an extended period, no matter what, speaks to what a wonderful person Grania was.

    I will miss Grania more than she would have thought if she knew we were going to lose her.

    1. That’s lovely. I’d often get my interest tweaked by some nerdy reference that felt out of character for Jerry and I’d check the top of the post and see it was Grania who was writing. I regret not asking her about those shared interests a bit more. People are always there, until they’re never there.

      With deaths like this it feels like there should be a transitional period where you’re told that they’re going to die and you get to love them as fiercely as you can before it happens; but no, there’s no warning, it’s just sprung on you.
      I suppose that that ‘transitional period’ is really what life is: we do actually know that people are going to die, and we do have an opportunity to love them as fiercely as we can before it happens. It’s just we tend to forget to do so until it’s too late.

  142. Sorry for your loss, Jerry. A true loss to us all. Be strong. Our world is capable of some wonderful creations and some big disappointments.

  143. So sorry to hear this news. She will be greatly missed by many. Her presence on this site was always enjoyable. You have my deepest condolences.

  144. So sorry to hear the very sad news of Grania, I was
    quite shocked. She popped in to visit on many occasions and I loved her company, there was always laughter involved. I am thinking of you and Gunda, sending love and hugs. Cathy Hopkins

  145. Words failed me earlier… in many respects they still do. I have so far this year attended two funerals of friends younger than me (one nearly 10 years) and I regard Grania’s early death as a personal insult by an uncaring universe. If she graced the world like she graced this website then she certainly deserved more time than I seem to have. Farewell Grania.

  146. Thank you for the lovely tribute to Grania. Of course I did not know her, but your description of her attributes assure me that I would have loved her. It is sad that her life ended at such an early age.

  147. Recalling a book I read some yrs back,
    I hope they have her apartment sealed off, and I hope that arsenic is among the things they test for in the toxicology screen.

  148. You forget that I’m part of a group that has a patent (pending) on rapid identification of bacterial species in sepsis patients, so I’m already primed on certain infectious diseases. There’s that part. The book is a simple coincidence – I noticed it and read it because the au is a namesake (no relation). Her book on the cholera epidemic in London in the mid-1800s is better.

    But a seemingly healthy young woman doesn’t just suddenly die for thus far no apparent reason, so I keep thinking. Nobody has yet mentioned the possibility of poisoning, and since arsenic isn’t exactly on the front line of possible scenarios, yet the general symptoms seem to match, I offer them up. If there is reason to suspect foul play, but nobody in Cork has yet suspected it, and the apartment hasn’t been sealed off, any evidence may well have disappeared.

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