The woman who fell to her death from the roof of a building in Beverly Hills last week was an artist, a mother, a wife, a successful businesswoman, and a humanitarian. She co-founded Child Welfare Scheme Hong Kong, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children in Nepal. She designed and sold exquisite one-of-a-kind jewelry in the finest boutiques around the world. She catalyzed a donation drive raising extraordinary amounts of money and goods in the wake of the recent hurricane in the Philippines. She hosted a female Tibetan Buddhist Lama in her home and had a private audience with his holiness the Dali Lama. She has contributed wisdom, expertise and resources to dozens of local and global organizations and worked tirelessly to create a beautiful, conscious life for her family, her community, and the world. Call her any of these things, but please don’t call her a socialite. She was anything but.
Sandra d’Auriol’s death last week is a tragedy by any measure, but the media’s insistence on headlining news calling her a socialite just because her family was well-resourced shows an appalling lack of respect for the extraordinary contributions she made to the world. While the reason for her death may never be fully understood, the most likely scenario is an adverse reaction to prolonged exposure to anesthesia for an unbelievable 13 straight hours combined with copious pain medication. This drug cocktail could be a shock to anyone’s system, but especially so for one who lived a healthy life, steering clear of medications and chemicals as much as possible.
I have no defense of her decision to seek cosmetic surgery. She radiated beauty and had no need for such a procedure. But you know full well that the pressure on women to forestall the aging process at all costs is real and the results can sometimes be devastating. Even my own dear friend offering helpful advice as I casually lamented the growing crease on my forehead texted, “a little filler and some botox and you’ll be fine” as if she’d just suggested I put on some lip gloss. She totally meant well, and she’s right, I would probably look younger if I added a little filler and botox to my face, but where’s the line and how do you know when you’ve crossed it?
Sandra sent an email to her friends on January 10, 2014, not two weeks before she died. If you have any lingering suspicion about her engagement in life and love for it, this should clear it. Here is what she said:
First of all to wish you a wonderful New Year, Happiness, Health, Success and the time to enjoy it all!
As you know all the proceeds from my business go to helping different humanitarian and environmental projects each year.
I thought it would be nice for you to know who your support has benefited, it makes the circle of buying gifts from me so much more meaningful.
Plastic Oceans Foundation
Senior Citizen Home Safety Association
Child Welfare Scheme Ltd
Clean Air Network
Society for Promotion of Hospice Care
Art in Hospital Ltd
Lam Tin Qi Gong Project
Burning Clinic in Nepal
Joshua Hellmann Foundation
Environmental Working Group
Pat Liang (Cell Phone for Philippine Relief)
2 Laptops for Khandro Thrinlay Chodon
Project Aware Australia
Go Fund Me
Donations of Goods for Auction Items:
Orange County School of Arts
Child Welfare Scheme
Thank you so much for your continued support, and a special thank you to my husband who makes this all possible!
With best wishes
If that is the definition of a socialite, then sign me up. If not, then please honor her memory by googling the charities she supported and making a contribution in her name and by calling her what she was; a remarkable woman.
Here’s one to get you started: http://www.cwshk.org