The deaths of Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy recently this week and in 2014 of Robin Williams resulted in an outpouring of emotional grief throughout social media.
The 3 stages of grief we undertake is as follows: a) the speculation and rumours, b) the confirmation of their death & the shock and finally c) the public mourning & outpouring of grief. After all, celebrities are normal human beings too with real feelings, just like us. It's just that what makes them different to us is they have the fame, the spotlight shining on them that goes along with their talent. Or for many reality TV stars, lack of talent.
Then comes the public acknowledgement, with people posting messages on Facebook and Twitter saying how s/he has impacted them on a personal level. It is like looking up to their favourite celebrity as if they were a member of their own family.
When celebrities and public figures die, when someone you have looked up to for years dies, a part of you dies as well. At first, it is a difficult pill to swallow. The grieving process can take a while to occur, whilst you are processing your feelings of sadness towards him/her.
Yet in spite of this, I remind myself of this one thing: that I don't think celebrities in general are any more special than us. Just because they can sing, act, dance, present, play an instrument doesn't mean they are entitled to be treated like royalty that they are.
This is not to say their Twitter and Facebook feeds deserve to be bombarded with online abuse from other users.
Celebrity deaths make us ponder what if they had been still alive today, what else would s/he accomplish, how much more could they have done to remain talked about by the press and the fans.
On the other end of the argument however, people will say it is silly to get upset when a celebrity dies - it comes across as being embarrassing & they are often accused of being melodramatic. Sure some do overreact to their deaths a little too much than expected. & yet we ask, who are you to tell me I shouldn't care, just because I don't know them personally as a friend or relative? Because when s/he has done something that made you smile or happy, on your favourite movie or TV show or made you download their song on iTunes, you do take their death to heart.
Because what they did meant something to you personally, and that can't be ever ignored.
There have been celebrities who have died as well, of whom I wasn't a fan of, or of whom isn't, or wasn't following their work when they were alive. So for me, unless I am a fan of their work, it's unlikely I will grieve, because I don't know them as well as others do.
But we also have the other end of the argument that asks, 'some famous people died and people rallied around to offer their condolences, but when soldiers out in the Middle East are killed against terrorists as they try to keep the peace, some young kids in Africa or in the Middle East dies, or are physically abused every week, no one bats an eyelid about them'. They rarely get recognition or the press coverage.
Or around the world when hundreds or thousands of individuals are killed by terrorists, their deaths are overlooked and not seen as being important enough to be seen by millions.
A death is still death, no matter their status or recognition.
(Robin Williams) Source: NY Daily News/ Reed Saxon AP
It is an acceptance of tragedy to mourn the passing of somebody you idolize and looked up to from the public domain, just as much as a friend or relative you have loved who died due to illness, murder or by accident. Our only connection with celebrities, is as fanatics. But we approach it as if they were a part of our family, that they are an extension of our immediate family. In coming to terms with their mourning, you are confronted with the realization that when they are dead, they are dead; that they can't enter and return in your life again in physical form.
Only their spirit lives on.
And for many of us, we are scared of dying. It is a word we don't like to hear and the thought of it worries us. We don't enjoy thinking about the day when we pass away through old age, or die from a disease, an accident or medical complication. It's why people like myself don't like talking about death, because it is a terrible thing to happen to all of us as human beings.
I don't like talking about death; it's a hugely unnerving and emotive subject at heart, and I just want to focus on the positive and take life, one step at a time. But I would be a fool to dismiss that it doesn't happen. Because it does - and it will happen to me.
Though in withstanding all of this, getting older comes with age, experience and many other things and we need to make the most out of it as we can.
When the time comes for death to come knocking on our door, that we have to prepare ourselves for it, and possibly the afterlife as well.
Our relationships with celebrities is a give and take thing - we love them, we respect them and what they do, we also criticize them when they do something terrible & we obsess about them. We cling onto them because of who they are, because we enjoy the work they do, what they have achieved in the past, and in the present, and what they mean to us, personally.
We connect with famous people of whom we share similarities with, of whom we aspire to be like and in looking up to them as role models.
For all our Facebook shares and likes, Twitter retweets, the ultimate loss of that person is personally felt by his/hers family the most. And it is they who experience the sheer pain & tragedy. It's an emotionally painful ride from beginning to end.
So that answers my question: celebrities lives and deaths are no more special than ours, but as fans of that celebrity, when the inevitable does happen, you can't help but feel sadness and grief that someone, who you feel has influenced you throughout your lives, no longer exists. Inasmuch as our friends and relatives.
Human life is a precious thing that we need to cherish more, especially when time ticks away fast, each and every year as you get older. And time, in particular, isn't always kind to us, which is why it is important to make the most of our lives when we are still living.
Source: Time Photo Gallery