Celebrity culture in America can represent the attainment of the American dream of fame and fortune for some. With social media and mass exposure, many people can live vicariously through our favorite celebrities. Media allows us to follow their every move and what's happening in their daily lives. Some of us try and emulate what our favorite celebrity looks like, how they dress, and even what they eat.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Why Do We Feel So Connected to Celebrity Deaths?
- Dealing With a Celebrity Death in Public and in Private
Social media makes it appear as if celebrities are our friends. We get constant updates on what they're doing, who they're with, where they've been, and how they're doing. It's no wonder why we give them space in our lives similar to personal friends on social media platforms. They often speak directly to us live in front of the camera.
So how can we not be affected when our favorite celebrity dies? We've become so close and feel a deeper connection to them.
Why Do We Feel So Connected to Celebrity Deaths?
When you follow a celebrity closely and interact with them on social media, you'll most likely grieve over their death. The pain and sorrow that you experience may feel the same or greater than the grief you suffer when you lose someone close to you.
You may feel a special connection to a particular celebrity death because it feels good to be a part of something greater in society. Sometimes it helps you feel connected to others who are also grieving the loss the same as you.
Dealing With a Celebrity Death in Public and in Private
In hearing the news that a celebrity you love has died, you may find yourself experiencing shock and disbelief. These are some of the initial signs of grief. This type of grief is commonly referred to as mourning sickness, described as “collective emotional condition of recreational grieving” and is typically connected to the death of a celebrity.
In some cases, you may find it hard to believe that a rich, beautiful, and famous person has died in the same way as any other regular person. When the news sinks in, you may start to question your own mortality. A celebrity's death makes you aware that anyone can die at any time. Wealth, beauty, and fame can't protect you from the cycle of life and death.
Mourning sickness can help people find healthy ways to cope with their grief both in public and in private. Learning to cope with the death of a celebrity you admire takes time. Below you'll find some ways to help you cope with your grief. You'll also find examples of what to say when someone dies that you didn't know.
1. Read about the celebrity's life online
One way of dealing with your grief in private is to find current articles online reporting on the news of the celebrity’s death. You’ll most likely be feeling a sense of initial shock and disbelief when you first hear the news. You can take the time to read through these reports to help you in accepting their death.
It may take you several hours to a few days to fully realize that the celebrity has died. The more you read about it, the easier it will be for you to accept the news are being true.
2. Share stories on social media
Sharing celebrity stories online is a form of public mourning. These stories don’t necessarily have to be personal interactions between you and the celebrity. They can be reposts of other’s stories that you’ve found online.
You may have found some of these stories to be particularly engaging. Or, it may be that these stories represent how the celebrity made you feel and what they meant to you. Sharing stories online connects you with others who are also sharing in your grief.
Going online is a great way of finding a community to lend support to one another. The largest social media platforms include Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Here, you'll be able to find and connect with others who have similar interests as you, and who might also be mourning the loss of a celebrity.
These platforms have search engines where you can type in the celebrity's name, or use a hashtag to search for celebrity-related news.
3. Express condolences online
Online memorials are a great way to express condolences when you don't know the family or the person who's died. Messages left by adoring fans can be a source of great comfort to the family. It helps to know that their loved one touched so many people's lives. Try and keep the message short and relevant.
This isn't a time to ask for an autographed photo of your favorite celebrity or to go super fanatic on the family. While it's comforting to receive messages of love and support, it can also be overwhelming.
It takes a lot of time to go through the many messages left behind by thousands of adoring fans. Be patient, but don't expect a personalized response. You can keep things simple by saying things like:
- “I’m sorry for your loss. Our nation is suffering with you.”
- “Today, our country has lost one of its greatest…”
- “May you find comfort and peace in your sorrow. I’m deeply sorry for your loss.”
4. Attend a public memorial
The death of a celebrity helps bring people together in their mourning. It's not unusual to have many public memorials throughout the nation in their honor.
If you live in the same city as the celebrity who died, you might even be able to attend a public memorial held by the family. Sometimes, the family will host a special service and invite the public to join. There shouldn't be a charge to attend. Be leery of anyone who may be posing as a family member. If someone approaches you asking for donations in honor or support of their loved one who has died, it's likely to be a scam.
5. Send flowers
The etiquette rules on sending flowers to someone you don’t personally know can get a little tricky. To play it safe, check for any information online that tells you what the family’s wishes are concerning flowers. It may be that instead of flowers, they may prefer that you donate to a named charity.
Usually, the chosen charity will align with the celebrity’s causes that they supported when they were alive. If there’s no information regarding the sending of flowers or the making of donations, play it safe. Send flowers to the address of the chapel or funeral home listed in the obituary. It’s considered poor taste to send gifts or flowers directly to the family’s home. It can be unsettling to the family to know that you know where they live.
6. Make a playlist
A great way to honor and remember a celebrity who’s died is to compile a list of your favorite movies, shows, or songs that they created or were a part of.
You can share this list online with other fans who may be needing a little pick me up after suffering this great loss. Another way to share your list is to invite your close friends to come over for a viewing or listening party.
7. Make a scrapbook
Reading and collecting online news stories can be therapeutic as you grieve over a celebrity’s death.
You can print your collection and turn it into a beautiful scrapbook to remember them as time goes on. You can go as fancy as you’d like, or keep it simple and easy to put together. The goal of this exercise is to help you cope with your grief not to complicate things.
8. Light a candle
The lighting of a candle in remembrance of someone who's died is a grief ritual common across many cultures. It helps you cope with your grief as you reflect on and remember your loved one.
When a celebrity dies, it's not unusual to find large public gatherings of people across the country who are all burning candles in their honor and all at the same time.
9. Say a prayer
No matter your faith or religion, you can always take a moment to say a prayer or have a moment of silence in honor of the celebrity who’s died. It helps to include in your thoughts the family left behind who’s also mourning a significant loss.
There’s a certain feeling of comfort that comes from taking this moment to pray or silently remember the life of the person who’s died.
Grieving Over a Celebrity
When a celebrity dies unexpectedly or tragically, it can cause a great wave of shock and disbelief across the country. If you have been deeply affected and are grieving over the death of a celebrity, know that the pain will ease after a few days or weeks.
If you find yourself unable to cope with their loss, try seeking the support of others who are also grieving their loss. It may also benefit you to talk to a trained bereavement counselor to help you cope with your grief.
If you're looking to learn more on grief, read our guide on dealing with collective grief.
- Wikipedia contributors. “Mourning sickness”. Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Date last edited: January 30, 2020.