Mourning the loss of someone you've never met is entirely normal and usually tied to the different stages of grief experienced after loss. Grief can impact us in many different ways and tends to accompany tragedy or significant loss in our lives. When a public disaster or tragedy strikes, you may find yourself mourning the loss of a complete stranger who you've never met.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How Can People Miss Someone They’ve Never Met?
- Steps for Dealing With Missing Someone You’ve Never Met That Died
- Steps for Dealing With Missing Someone You’ve Never Met That’s Still Alive
Why is it that you find yourself missing someone you don't know or someone you have never met?
The impact of a public tragedy — whether you are grieving a celebrity's death or grieving a public accident — can cause you to mourn their loss in much the same way as it would any loved one. These events provoke emotional reactions based on how relatable the events are to us in our personal lives.
How Can People Miss Someone They’ve Never Met?
Making a connection with strangers online or over long-distance happens all the time. You can form a strong emotional and spiritual connection to someone you’ve never met in real life, which then creates an emotional attachment.
These emotional bonds without physical attachment cause you to forge real connections with strangers. However, these attachments are typically one-sided and can stem from the desire to be loved. Here are some reasons why we grieve someone we’ve never met:
- Their death represents our lost hope
- They represented a part of our self-identity
- Their work or art helped us through previous pain
- Their death triggers past traumas
- Their death grows our fears about our mortality
Steps for Dealing With Missing Someone You’ve Never Met That Died
Anytime tragedy happens, it tends to stir up a variety of grief-related emotions. Everyone grieves and processes loss differently. If you are mourning the loss of someone you've never met, your grief can turn from ordinary to complicated, making it much more difficult to heal. The following steps might make it easier for you to get through your grief.
1. Process your grief
Processing the death of someone you've never met has more to do with you fearing your mortality and triggering the grief attached to your previous losses. Grieving over someone you don't know is typical with celebrity deaths or any other public figures you may be holding an attachment to.
For example, if a public figure who you admire and reminds you of your mother dies suddenly, their death can trigger unresolved grief attached to your mother's death. Navigating through these feelings can be challenging. However, this type of grief serves the purpose of getting you in touch with your emotions attached to your views on death.
2. Seek information
The more you know and learn about the death surrounding the person you've never met but admired, the easier it is to set aside your fears concerning your mortality. Take, for example, a celebrity whom you relate to dying of a drug overdose. They might have been struggling for years with substance abuse issues behind closed doors.
If you don't use drugs, then the chances of you dying of a drug overdose go down to almost zero. This information works to ease your mind of whether you'll meet with the same or similar fate.
3. Connect with others
Getting involved with others outside your regular circle of support will put you in touch with people who are also feeling your loss. Online support groups and social platforms, especially, are a great way to share in your pain and sorrow.
Connecting with others over shared grief allows you to talk about your feelings and view your loss from different perspectives. Another advantage of finding online support is that someone is almost always available to chat at any time of day or night.
4. Send condolences
Sending a sympathy card, flowers, or other forms of condolences isn't unusual even when you've never met the person. Whether they were a celebrity or someone you were getting to know online, paying your last respects can help you find peace and closure following the loss.
Look for published obituaries online to find out where to send any condolence gifts. You may find yourself directed to a charity of the deceased's family's choice. If you're financially able to, consider donating in their honor.
5. Keep a journal
Journaling helps you process the pain associated with grief. Writing down what you’re feeling is an excellent way of coping with loneliness after a death. You can also track your grief journey to mark the progress you make each day toward healing.
Perhaps your sorrow stems from a more profoundly rooted trauma in your past that surfaces as you’re grieving this particular loss. Consider sharing your journal entries with a friend or counselor who understands what you’re going through.
6. Talk to them
One of the simplest ways to process your grief is to talk aloud to the person who died. Picture them in your mind as you begin to talk to them, and imagine them sitting there with you. Tell them everything their death means to you, how you’re feeling, and how you’re coping with their death.
Grief can be overwhelming and can lead to feelings of tremendous loss. Talking to a deceased loved one is comforting and can help you heal from your pain.
Steps for Dealing With Missing Someone You’ve Never Met That’s Still Alive
Longing for someone you’ve never met is also a normal part of the grieving process. How you deal with your loss and how you accept the negative emotions associated with grieving determines how well you’ll navigate the grief process.
Ignoring your feelings is not the best way to cope with loss. When you avoid your emotions, you delay your grief reactions, and they may surface unexpectedly much later on in life.
1. Accept your feelings
Loneliness can be a very isolating and debilitating feeling. Whenever you miss someone you've never met that's still alive, reaching out to them can be as complicated or as easy as you make it. Every relationship is different, as are the circumstances surrounding your separation.
When the other person's still alive, you have the advantage of being able to get in touch with them to let them know how you're feeling, in most cases. When direct communication is impossible, learning to accept your feelings can help you process your pain and suffering associated with your yearning.
2. Assess your circumstances
Take a look at your circumstances and determine whether it makes sense for you to reach out to the person you're missing. Also, consider the reasons why you miss them. Try making a list of the pros and cons of communicating with them before deciding what to do.
If this is an ex that you're pining over, maybe it's not such a good idea to reach out. However, if you're missing an old friend whom you had a falling-out with, it may be the best time for you to reach out to make amends.
3. Write a letter
If you're wondering what to write in a letter to a stranger whom you miss, don't let it intimidate you. You can start by telling them who you are and what's going on in your life. Follow up by telling them about all the things you think the two of you have in common and giving them a list of reasons you miss them. If they're an inspiration to you, let them know how so.
Consider writing something thoughtful, personal, and engaging. Your letter might be seen as an open invitation to communicate or rejected altogether. Don't take it personally if your letter comes back to you in the mail. Not everyone is open to receiving letters from strangers. You may decide to write the letter to get your feelings out, then stuff it in a drawer to be forgotten.
4. Send an email
Emails are generally considered a safe way of communicating with people that you don't know. Finding out their email address can get a little tricky, but it's not impossible to do. A quick internet search yields a lot of information about people you don’t know.
Sending an email can be rejected as spam if the person receiving it doesn't have you on their contacts list. Consider the likelihood of not receiving a response when sending an email and set your expectations accordingly.
5. Discover why you miss them
It may not be a bad idea to get yourself enrolled in some online grief counseling to find out why it is that you miss someone so much when you don't even know them. This applies to anyone that you find yourself missing and whom you don't know. It can be a celebrity, an acquaintance, or someone you met recently while out walking your dog.
There's usually a reason why we attach ourselves to people we hardly know. A skilled therapist can help you reveal some of the associations you have with that person that cause you to miss them.
Grieving Someone You’ve Never Met
Getting emotionally involved with someone you never met and grieving their loss is not all too uncommon. Missing someone you can't get in touch with can be a harrowing and traumatic experience.
Taking control of your feelings and emotions is sometimes the only way of dealing with the pain of suffering this type of loss. You can help yourself heal and move past this hurt by focusing on your life's positive aspects and relationships with those around you.