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Celebrity Death and Our Own Mortality

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So far, 2016 has been a bit of a reality check. As 2015 waned, we mourned the death of music legends Lemmy Kilmister and Natalie Cole. Then, in the first few weeks of 2016, we faced the loss of more iconic figures: David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Alan Rickman. Singer Céline Dion suffered two great tragedies – first her husband and two days later her brother died. And now, just a few months later, Prince has joined this esteemed group of late celebrities.

Many of us came of age with at least one of these legends in the background. Each of them helped to define an era, influence generations, and yes, we felt a connection. That’s what makes their loss significant and somehow changes our reality. 

As mentioned in a previous article Losing Robin Williams: Larger than Life Even in Death, celebrities are like close friends at arm’s length, and the death of a celebrity often creates an inexplicable void in our lives. But these recent losses add more to the mix. There were so many of them in such a short time and not one was old by today’s standards.

While a musician’s lifestyle is often fraught with excesses, we still half expect our icons to live forever. When they die, it’s especially hard for us to accept that they were actually human, just like us. In a way, it forces us to accept our own human frailty, our own mortality.

Whether you are spiritual or not, the cold fact is: everything that lives will someday die. So, as mere mortals, how can we put a positive spin on this dire reality? Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Live each day to the fullest. It sounds like something people say when they’re dying and it’s too late. It’s never too late if you start right now. If you live each day like it could be your last, you’ll see things differently. You’ll separate the petty from the profound. You won’t put things off that are important – like saying “I love you” or making amends. Maybe you’ll take a chance, make a big change in your career path or in your life.
  • Love deeply. Feel intensely. Savour special moments. Take the time to notice things more, like the birds at your feeders, the way the sun sparkles on the water, or the rainbows dancing through the crystal hanging in your window. Make an effort to go out with a friend or loved one and discover the night sky together. Take the time to watch a bee gather pollen from a flower. Just sit and listen to someone else’s ideas. Make memories to last a lifetime. Think about all that you’re thankful for.
  • Create your own legacy. What do you do well that you can leave behind or pass on to others? Are you a great cook? Do you have an eye for photography? Have you written a story or poem, or learned to play a song on the piano? Have you ever tried to quilt? There are many things that make you one of a kind. Find your uniqueness, define it and share it with the world. That’s what our dearly departed icons have done and perhaps that’s why we feel their loss so personally.

So, what is this very real grief we feel for Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman and the others when we didn’t really know them personally? It’s nostalgia – a longing for what we’ve already experienced, remembering a time gone by and who we were then. What we’re feeling is normal and very real. These artists have created something you connect with. They’ve inspired you and helped you become who you are today. They are part of your life.

You can start now to create your own nostalgic moments. Look back at them often, take stock of what you’ve already accomplished, and savour the precious moments you’ve collected. At the same time, continue to look forward, to dream, to inspire and aspire. The only thing constant in life is change. Embrace it! Pursue your dreams and you’ll become iconic to those around you.

Even though we’ve lost several classics so far this year, it’s not the end or an era. These icons will live on in their art and in our memories. Their gifts won’t die with them; they gave them to the world.

By Laurie M. Martin, CTS, EPC, Guest Blogger
Life Interrupted Inc.

Categorized under: grief

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