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Grief In The Public Eye 

Grief affects us in so many different ways and some of us may even find ourselves grieving for people who we may not have known personally. 

I ponder on this and often wonder whether it is possible to shed a tear or feel some sort of sadness for someone you did not know. 

In short, I would say yes! I feel as though that there is this unwritten rule that frowns upon people who mourn celebrity deaths or public figures. It is always the same rebuttal with those who adhere to this “rule”: they didn’t know you and you didn’t know them, so why are you upset.

Is it okay to mourn a celebrity’s/public figure’s death?

I think it is absolutely fine to mourn or feel a sense of grief over a celebrity’s death. Granted, you may not have known them personally but you might have been inspired by them. We often think that is it appropriate to mourn a celebrity or public figure death? 

I don’t know if I was crying as this was a long time ago but I remember a sense of sadness came over me when I heard the news about Princess Diana. 

I didn’t know her from anywhere but I just remember how she was portrayed in such a pleasant manner. She won the nation’s hearts and was truly the people’s princess. Those things alone made me feel a type of way. 

Does that make me silly? Of course not! The thing to note here is that at times we just don’t know how people make us feel until they’re gone. 

Another passing that really hit me was that of Chadwick Boseman. There were so many people who mentioned how the death was a shock and a surprise. 

I’m sure the majority of people who felt that way didn’t personally know him. But, as I mentioned, it doesn’t matter if you knew that celebrity or not because you may have felt connected to them through their work and that alone is sufficient enough to express grief.

Sad hispanic latin teenager boy consulting exam notes in campus online - Young school student reading bad news on laptop -Grieving the death of a public figure/celebrity

How do you mourn or grieve for a celebrity/public figure?

There is no rulebook on how to grieve or who we can and cannot mourn. It is perfectly natural to be upset over the death of someone who inspired your music taste or someone who you felt you have grown with because you’ve watched their films- from their acting debut to the latest blockbuster. 

These are ways you might have felt connected to that celebrity, so all of these things can warrant us to mourn that person. Their loss could make you feel like you are no longer connected to what admired about them..

Those who have experienced grief personally, may mourn a celebrity death because that celebrity reminded them of the person they lost. This isn’t to be divisive as people who haven’t lost someone are still within their right to mourn a celebrity death, it’s just a perspective. 

We can express grief for all celebrities but have you ever felt the pain more because of the people that celebrity is leaving behind. Does that make sense? Okay, let me break it down a bit. A celebrity who has passed away and is survived by their children. 

Like when Kobe and Gianna Bryant died. It always hits deep, because that feeling Kobe Bryant’s other children having to adjust to life without a parent is all too familiar. In a sense, I feel their pain. As I know what it’s like to lose a parent or in my case parents.

Grieving a celebrity is absolutely fine in my personal opinion and because it is fine, it means that we can honour them the same way we would honour a loved one who has passed. 

How do we honour a celebrity who has passed away?  

There is no right or wrong answer and whatever you do will be different. When I heard the news about Chadwick, I had this urge to rewatch Black Panther and watch some of the other films he has been in. In hindsight, that was my way of appreciating his legacy and his work.

How have you honoured a celebrity who has passed? What did you appreciate most about that celebrity? When you reflect on these questions, remember that your grief is valid and not personally knowing that celebrity doesn’t change that at all.

Jermaine OmoregieJermaine after the loss of his parents started a podcast, Thinking Out Loud with his friend Ben who sadly also lost his father at 12 years old and his mother at 19. They explore, amongst themselves and with a range of different guests, the unspoken truths about grief and mental health.


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