The first celebrity death I can remember clearly was Jim Croce in 1973. I was 12, almost 13. Someone came to school that morning and said he had died in a plane crash. My immediate response was to ball my eyes out. In school. Publicly. I was mortified. In the coming weeks, even months, and to some extent, even now, I grieved. I still listen to him regularly and have given his CD’s as gifts as recently as two years ago to an aspiring singer/songwriter. His music touches me in a way I can’t explain.
Just the other day Mickey Rooney died. Someone posted it on Facebook and, again, my immediate response was tears. I’ve probably seen every Mickey Rooney movie made. He was a terrible actor (my opinion), but a sweet, funny, quirky man and I enjoyed him. His attachment to my childhood is unmistakable and I am grieving his death.
When Princess Diana died, I was glued to the television for DAYS watching, listening, crying, grieving. I felt so silly. I remember thinking “I never even met her and here I am crying my eyes out!” She and I were pregnant with our first born babies at the same time. Her second son is close to the age of my daughter. I have no idea why, but I felt connected to her in some way.
Is this silly? I don’t think so. We live in a world filled with images of celebrities. We see their every move, hear their every thought, follow their love life and babies and careers. Some we connect with and others we don’t. It seems natural to me to remember them, their impact on our lives, their body of work, and to grieve their loss.
But what if you’re a grieving celebrity? Bob Geldof’s daughter, Peaches ,was found dead the other day. His public statement is heartwrenching: ‘We are beyond pain. Peaches has died. We are beyond pain. She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us. Writing “was” destroys me afresh. What a beautiful child. How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable?’
Good question. How is it bearable for a parent to lose a child? And one so publicly? The press will now shine a spotlight on her life. Every detail will be revealed in the coming days and weeks. That same spotlight will shine on her family too. No matter where they go, they will be followed, scrutinized, quoted, questioned. Photos will be snapped, articles will be written, film will be shown at 11.
Grief is hard enough without a spotlight. How often do we avoid the grocery store because we’re afraid of running into someone we know who doesn’t know and we’ll have to tell the story again? What if everyone knows? What if everyone is watching? What if everyone is judging?
Some will say it’s just the price of fame. While that may be true, I for one will send good thoughts/prayers/positive energy towards those famous families who are grieving. People are people and my human heart breaks for their loss.