Hero photograph
Michael, Sonomi, and Jannette - August 2017
Photo by Hope and Sons Funeral Directors

Tragedy - for two families

Michael Hope —

It is 20 years this week since Princess Diana and Mr Kiyoshi Yajima died in motor vehicle accidents - 31 August 1997

This article was written by Michael in the week following 31 August 1997.


Tragedy – I write to you this week on the day of ‘Diana’s’ funeral. 

This truly tragic event has provoked an overwhelming reaction of unity in grief, from Britain and the world in general. The tragic circumstances of a young, beautiful woman, in the prime of her life, with so much to give to her family and many, many others around the world. We all feel cheated and for a lot of people, especially in my generation, it highlights one’s personal mortality – because if anyone was going to live forever – it would have been Princess Di. She is now going to be that young beautiful Princess, immortal, forever.

But how tragic is it? We see similar circumstances every week – don’t we? Given the hundreds of other people that have died this week in New Zealand, not many of those families would care much for Di or the Windsors, they are lost in their own personal sorrow, grief and tragedy.

Take this scenario as an example. On the day Diana dies, a young woman’s father dies after a road accident; the young woman is badly injured. They are visitors to New Zealand, on a skiing adventure, and were going to give a surprise visit to friends. They have little english and come from a vastly different culture. The woman’s mother died when she was at university, she is an only child – and her father has died! - She was driving the car. - She is alone. Alone, not just in New Zealand but in her homeland, 6000 miles away. Tragedy? Sure is, - but this young lady is healing….feeling, and hopefully a survivor. Her grief and loss is overwhelming, coupled with guilt and a feeling of responsibility. She has much to bear.

So however big a tragedy Diana’s death is and however huge and overwhelming the response to it, it really highlights the ongoing reality of life, often its brutality, but revitalises our spirit, to live on and enjoy life as we know it. Sound in the knowledge that we are lucky, and that no matter how low we seem to go, notice how there always seems to be some-one just a little lower, somewhere nearby.

Remember Diana 1961-1997 - RIP.
Remember Kiyoshi 1935-1997 - RIP.

written by Michael Hope - 6th September 1997


Jannette and Michael Hope were thrilled to host Sonomi Yajima, 20 years on from these tragic events. They've had the pleasure of an enduring and permanent friendship with Sonomi, and  Sonomi has certainly survived, married with two lovely teenagers, we were pleased to meet her son Taro travelling with her this time. She has come to NZ to mark the 20 year anniversary and visit the special people that helped her at that most difficult time.

When people ask us - why we as funeral directors do what we do - this is why. It is about making a difference in people's lives. - Michael and Jannette

Hope and Sons are contemporary yet respectful of tradition, being a five generation funeral family caring for the Dunedin, Mosgiel, and Otago communities.
Send Michael Hope a message at michael@hopeandsons.co.nz