How to Acknowledge the Death of Someone You Don't Know


Grief is a part of everyone’s life at some point. Some types of grief are more socially accepted than others. This type of social disenfranchisement can be a weighty burden and can make it difficult to express any feelings of sadness or grief you may have.

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This is especially true if you’re trying to grieve someone that you don’t know. Without traditional markers, like funeral attendance or sympathy messages, it’s hard.  

Feelings are often unpredictable things. It’s hard to know exactly why you feel the way you do. It’s important to know, though, that feeling unaffected or emotionally shattered are both normal reactions. Neither one is wrong. If you feel like you need something more concrete, as a way of acknowledgment, we’ve got you covered.

Try the below options as a way of emotionally coping with your loss in healthy ways. 

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Share It On Social Media 

Social media has become an impressive tool for connecting with others everywhere. It also replaced the monologue in popular culture. In Shakespearean times, particularly in works by famous playwrights of the time, a monologue was common. It moved the plot along in an audible format. There’s no way to communicate a character’s inner thoughts in a movie. This can prove to be a strength and a weakness of the genre. 

The monologue fixes this issue, allowing the protagonist to communicate their thoughts. The audience can understand their motivations, and why they act the way they do. The monologue is a window into who the protagonist is as a person. 

Social media is a great platform to mimic the monologue as the protagonist of your own life. You can mimic that style by using it as a place to share your thoughts. With this method, you can also connect with others who are feeling the same way. 

You don’t have to get wordy if you don’t feel like it. You can post a photo of the relative or celebrity or person that you’re grieving. You can do it with the dates of their life, or a short sentence about what they meant to you. No matter what you choose to do, making it meaningful and fitting to your style of communication is crucial.

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

Comforting a Friend

In cases where you are grieving over a loss, comforting others can be a way to not only give support but also find your own way to grieve alongside someone. Grief doesn’t have to be a lonely emotion.

For example, if you have a sister and neither of you knew your aunt well, you may feel the same way. But comforting someone else often helps you to work through your own feelings on the issue. It also serves as a distraction.

Many experts recommend reaching outside yourself when you’re feeling down. This gives you a chance to contextualize your own experiences without spending too much time in your own head. 

» MORE: Online obituary that is 100% free. Honor a loved one beyond a newspaper.

Acknowledging Their Death

There are two psychological terms that can help break down the process of acknowledging the death of someone you didn’t know. One of those terms is disenfranchised grief. There are so many challenges that come with the death of a loved one, but most people understand what you’re going through at this time.

With the death of someone, you can receive an overwhelming wave of sympathy when you’re grieving. This network of support takes a heavy, invisible load off your shoulders while you’re still grieving. But you don’t need to think about whether your feelings are ‘warranted.’

In the opposite sense, when you are grieving and feel that it is unwarranted, it is a difficult situation to tackle. Trying to grieve without the support of others is an immense challenge. If you didn’t know someone, you may feel like you’re being silently judged. You may feel that you don’t even have the right to mention their death.

But with most feelings, you’re dealing with an issue that no one else can see. That makes you feel increasingly isolated. Silence or criticism may greet your grief. This is especially true if you were estranged from the deceased, or only met them a few times. 

With this kind of pressure, experiencing self-stigma is also natural. This occurs when you criticize yourself. You may ask why you’re so upset over someone you barely knew. You may ask why you have the right to grieve like you’re trying to pretend that you knew them. This kind of self-pressure makes it even worse. 

Acknowledging their death is the best way to go about it. It can be emotionally freeing. You’re a human being that’s struggling with loss. You have every right to be experiencing these emotions. Pretending that you’re not dealing with it is incredibly unhealthy. It can lead to greater emotional issues later on in life.

Dealing with it honestly is the best way to manage your pain. Of course, there are different ways to acknowledge them. Pick the one that suits you best. You can talk about it candidly on social media. You may even find others who are grieving in the same way. Whether you’re grieving a famous celebrity or an uncle you never met, you’ll probably find that others can relate to you. 

If you don’t like to share publicly on social media, you may choose to take a more personalized approach. You can write about it in a journal. This provides emotional release with no fear of being judged or criticized. You can also share your feelings with a close friend, and find a safe space for you to talk through your emotions with another person. 

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

Sharing Their Art 

There can a level of shame associated with grieving a celebrity death. If that’s your situation, it’s very common. There are a million reasons why you "shouldn’t" feel the way you do. If they were famous, like Freddie Mercury or Princess Diana, they likely didn’t know you existed. However, if someone’s art or presence affected you, your grief is valid. Forming attachments to emotional experiences is healthy and human. 

Artists can become famous for many reasons, but perhaps their message, whether it’s about mental illness or the power of love, resonated with you. If a celebrity was a public figure for many years, in particular, it can feel like losing that message.

There’s another reason celebrity deaths can hit hard. This is because art forms powerful associations for us. A movie can remind you of your first date with the love of your life. A particular song can remind you of the most special summer of your teenage years. Art sometimes serves as memory categorization for the most special times of your life. Losing that celebrity can feel like losing their memory. 

There are ways to cope with this special type of loss, though. You can reach out to other fans about it. If anything, they’ll understand exactly how much this celebrity meant to you. You can also commemorate your life by sharing their art with others. It serves as a reminder and a great homage to the work they achieved artistically during their life.

Whether you post a Queen song to your Facebook page or read up about Princess Diana’s many charitable works, you’ll be able to reminisce about your best ‘memories’ with that celebrity. 

Better Understanding Your Feelings

If you’re still struggling with feelings of loss, it may be worthwhile to see a therapist. They’re not just for life-shattering events that wreck your heart. If you’re not even close enough to send condolences, your feelings still matter.

Therapists are a great choice for many emotional issues. If you’re struggling, scheduling a few sessions with a therapist to get professional help may be a great idea. 


  1. Berkeley, University of California. “What is Gratitude?” n.d.,

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