While the exact cause of funnyman Gary Shandling’s sudden death remains unclear — a heart attack is suspected — a little-known disease he had may also have played a part.
He joked to Seinfeld, “The symptoms are so much like being an older Jewish man, no one noticed!”
The disease affects the parathyroid glands, which regulate the level of calcium in the blood. Hyperparathyroidism is when something is wrong with one of your PT glands, usually a small tumor or adenoma on a gland, which causes your calcium levels to elevate. Surgery to remove to problematic gland is recommended and will alleviate all symptoms.
Symptoms include weakness, fatigue, depression, bone pain and a rise in the risk of heart attack. Early reports say that Shandling most likely died of a heart attack.
While cause of death is still being determined, arrangements have been made for his funeral. Shandling was born Jewish but became a devout Buddhist. TMZ reports that he will be laid to rest next month during an intricate Buddhist funeral ceremony, which he made arrangements for shortly before his death.
During the ceremony, Shandling will be dressed in ordinary clothes and will be ordained as a monk by having another monk symbolically shave his head. He will be laid to rest with a card that has the “Five Precepts of Buddha” and a monk will lead a chant to help guide the spirit to the next life while the congregation lights incense. It is not known whether Shandling will be buried or cremated.
Food will be served afterward - a recognition of his Jewish roots - and then the 49 day period of mourning customary to Buddhist funerals will begin.