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Arts and Entertainment

Leonard Cohen Died Peacefully In His Sleep, As It Should Be

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Leonard Cohen, 1980. (Getty)

The legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen died last Monday night (Nov. 7), but the news of his passing was not announced until a few days later, and no cause of death was given. Now the AP reports that Cohen died in his sleep at his Los Angeles home, "following a fall in the middle of the night."

"The death was sudden, unexpected and peaceful," his manger, Robert B. Kory, said in a statement. He had been "working diligently to bring several projects to completion" at the time of his death.

Cohen had been battling cancer, something that was discussed in September during a podcast interview with David Remnick of The New Yorker (listen here). Remnick said that when he "visited him in Los Angeles he was suffering from cancer but keeping it very private. He was in deep pain from compression fractures on his spine and he had to sit in a big, blue medical chair to ease that pain."

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In July of this year, Cohen wrote a final letter to his former muse Marianne Ihlen around the time of her death—it read, "Well Marianne it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine."

Cohen was buried in Montreal on November 10th, when the public learned of his passing, and a memorial is planned in Los Angeles at a later date. In an Instagram post, his son Adam Cohen wrote: "With only immediate family and a few lifelong friends present, he was lowered into the ground in an unadorned pine box, next to his mother and father. Exactly as he’d asked."

Cohen's Rabbi, Mordecai Finley, wrote a touching tribute to him this week, highlighting his thoughtful nature and generosity of spirit. He says Cohen came to him in recent months, telling him, "Reb, I am getting ready to shuffle off this mortal coil. I have some questions for you. One day, with his children’s permission, maybe I will be able to write about that conversation... as I write these words, my heart is too heavy, too broken. I knew Leonard’s soul and feel it in my own. He knew mine. I think he sought me out to tell me his version, and invited me to tell him mine."

Cohen was also a Buddhist, which Finley addresses in his essay—"People asked how could he be Jewish if he was a Buddhist monk. He told me Zen Buddhism, at least the kind that he practiced, was not a religion. It was a tuning fork for consciousness. He was a devoted Jew, a learned, deep and troubled one—a genius. He had candles lit every Shabbat. I received photos of candles lit on the tours."

There's an hour long documentary on YouTube filmed in 1996, which focuses on his Buddhism and follows Cohen around Los Angeles—you can watch it below:

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