The Shadow of Celebrity Death

24 Jan

TW: death, grieving

Someone I know and care about lost her husband this week. I knew and cared about him, too. He was an artist and a joy and a father and way too young to leave.

It was many hours after it happened when she bravely shared it on social media. At the exact same time, I saw multiple people sharing about the death of a celebrity, with captions about how sad it is.

During his long life, he got his art out to millions and millions. Meanwhile, the book my friend always talked about writing will never come to be.

It has often looked awkward to me when people share on social media about the death of someone famous. Suddenly, they’re huge fans of an obscure actor they’d never mentioned before. They’ll find the pic of themselves with that celebrity from a moment they met decades before. Or my favorite (sarcasm font) is the sheer race to be the first one to share the news!

It gets absurd to the point where often, it’s no longer about the person who passed, but about the person who’s posting about the death. Who has the best picture? Who has the best story? Who’s a fan of the most obscure movie and can post a weird quote that means nothing at all?

When before, this simply meant a source of “news” for me that sometimes made me roll my eyes and, yes, sometimes made me a little sad, now I feel how unfair this can be to people whose grief is substantially more, people who are grieving for someone they actually know and love. Imagine you lost someone more precious to you than anyone else in the entire world, and you pop on Facebook for distraction and connection and all you see is people acting all morose because some dude who wrote a movie they watched once died? How insignificant your own, very real grief might seem, when in fact it’s the most significant thing in the entire world.

I’m not saying don’t share about a death you see in the news. I’m just asking that you do it mindfully. Do you have an authentic connection to that person? Is there something valuable you can share about your own experience and purpose that ties into that public figure’s legacy? How might this be not about you, but about everyone?

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