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Why Do We Mourn Celebrities?

After the extraordinary amount of celebrity deaths in 2016, many of us were left feeling slightly shell-shocked. People like David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali and George Michael, who all passed away in 2016, were idols, a big part of our lives for so many years, so it’s not surprising that we might have felt sad when they were unexpectedly taken away. While most of us carry on with our lives after hearing of such sad news, others can have a much stronger reaction, crying and weeping as though they had lost a dear friend or a loved one. But why do we mourn celebrities? Why are we upset over their deaths when we haven’t met them, and we don’t know them personally?

Grieving Someone You Never Met

If you can’t explain why you’re deeply saddened by the death of a famous actor, singer, or author, the reassuring news is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these emotions. David Kaplan, the chief professional officer of the American Counselling Association, told HuffPost

“We grow up with these people. We see their movies, we hear their music on a regular basis and we really get to know them. In a sense, they become a member of our family — especially the ones we really like — so when they die, it’s like an extended member of our family dies. It’s somebody we feel like we know.”

Another explanation is that celebrity deaths have a personal effect on us because they resonate with us on a deeper, psychological level. Kaplan explains in the same article that we feel extremely sad over the death of a celebrity because, for many of us, our dream is to achieve the same level of success they have enjoyed. Another possible reason is that a celebrity death can also remind us of our own mortality.

Celebrity Deaths & The Social Age

Feelings of loss over the death of a celebrity are only intensified with the advent of digital media. However, it can also make it easier for people to recover and heal. With social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, people can share memories of their beloved idol and commiserate with one another. Knowing that there are other people who share the same emotions can make us feel less alone, thus, making it much easier to deal with grief and eventually move on. Here are David Kaplan thoughts on this in the HuffPost article:

“We are social creatures, we are meant to be with other people when we face adversity. That’s going to mean different things to different generations. It may mean physically being with people or it could also extend to online. You can get hundreds of people saying, ‘I know what you’re going through.’ And that’s very healing for us.”

Ultimately, grieving someone you never met is not something you should be ashamed of. Just because you can’t always rationalise your feelings doesn’t invalidate them. There is no rulebook when it comes to grief. If you feel that you’re sad with the passing of a beloved celebrity, just let it out. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s always okay to ask for help.

Family Funeral Services is an independent Australian owned and operated funeral home based in Sydney. We provide a full range of services designed to assist clients following the death of a loved one. Please don’t hesitate to contact us in your time of need.