November 1, 2013

20 Years After the Death of River Phoenix. {Video}

A Mindful Reminder of the Need for Communication.

The drug-overdose death of River Phoenix during the early morning hours of Halloween in 1993 was a huge blow for youth everywhere.

Although it wasn’t his first film, Phoenix became a household name at age 15 due to his substantial part in Stephen King’s novella, The Body, turned Rob Reiner directed movie, Stand By Me.

For the next nearly 8 years, Phoenix grew into an incredible actor, an activist, a musician and an all-around heart throb.

Watch some memorable Stand By Me moments—also featuring young Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell:

(Can you tell that my sister and I wore out a videotape—how’s that for dated—of this movie?)

Listen to Natalie Merchant’s soulful tribute in song:


River Phoenix might have been an entire generation’s introduction into Hollywood crushes but he, sadly, won’t be the last untimely death.

And what can we do to make sure that these false images of clean-and-perfect living turned into sad-and-horrible death aren’t completely in vain?

For one, this somber anniversary can serve as a mindful reminder that drug use doesn’t discriminate against social class, status or even fame.

It can serve, too, as a remembrance that nearly everyone had a far-off crush while still children themselves—and well before anyone heard of Justin Bieber (and maybe this can provide some fodder for patience with our own children and star-struck youth).

More, however, this real-life story illuminates the dark possibilities that lurk behind hidden double-lives and personal struggles.

Many elephant journal writers blog and share with you simply to open up our communal dialogue and foster mutual self-awareness and understanding and support through something ironically simple yet difficult—communication.

I know that I blog specifically to encourage my toddler to be open with me as she grows and matures, through my own example of openness—even and especially when it’s challenging or uncomfortable for me to do so.

Yet the thing is we have to also remember to slow down and listen.

Yes, we need to exchange, share and converse, but we also need to settle into stillness so that we can hear the words and (possibly unsaid) needs that are being spoken by those around us as well.

So good-bye, once again, River Phoenix. You’re still missed and thought of fondly.

Thank you for the range of emotion that your characters had me feel when I saw you on film and thank you, also, for the important reminder your memory offers: to listen with my whole heart even when it might not be something that I truly want to hear.

“We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together and if we are to live together we have to talk.”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Want 15 free additional reads weekly, just our best?

Get our weekly newsletter.

Ed: Bryonie Wise



Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Jennifer S. White  |  Contribution: 45,780