I think we’ve all been affected by the death of a celebrity.

Sometimes we can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the news.  For me, hearing that Prince died stopped me in my tracks. 

Whether it was tragic like Princess Diana or Robin Williams or it was natural causes like Maya Angelou or Toni Morrison there’s no doubt that the art that moved us most can make us feel connected to the artist and leave us grieving their death.

I know it can seem irrational because you didn’t really know them but I promise it’s a super common thing and you are most definitely NOT crazy. Maybe their music provided the backdrop to an important moment in your life. Maybe their words comforted you in your darkest moments. Or maybe someone you loved and lost (parent, friend, sibling etc) was a big fan and the celebrity’s death highlights the loss you suffered all over again.

This tweet sums it up all beautifully:

And have you noticed the rush to post about a celebrity’s death?

I have.  And it’s got me wondering why we do this because it’s important to connect to our “why” before we hit publish. Is it because it’s “juicy gossip”? Is it to gain social street cred because you were “first on the scene”? Or is it because you want to find support and connect with others who are grieving?

Before you post…

Skip the platitudes and gory details

“RIP Robin Williams” doesn’t move the conversation towards empathy or help anyone who is grieving.

Studies have shown that reporting on celebrity suicides actually contributes to an increase in suicide. It can normalize the behaviour and make it seem like a viable option for people who are already suffering and at risk.

We’ve experienced so many celebrity suicides from Kurt Cobain to Robin Williams to Phillip Seymour Hoffman and more recently Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. If you choose to post about a celebrity suicide it helps to avoid any mention of HOW or WHY they killed themselves.

What does help is to link to a mental health crisis number or services near you and to encourage anyone who’s suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts to get help.

Show up with empathy

Talk about what the celebrity meant to you. How they impacted your life. How you’re grateful for the contribution they made to the world and how you’ll miss their presence.

If you see a friend struggling with a celebrity death

Be a heart with ears. Reassure them that even though they may never have met that person the impact of their talent and art in your friend’s life is real and leaves a mark on their heart.

Let’s keep talking…tell me which celebrity death had the greatest impact on you and why you connected deeply to their art.  Join the conversation.

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