By Coralease Ruff —
We react so strongly to the death of public figures like Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Princess Diana, whom we do not know personally, primarily because we feel as if we know them. On some level, perhaps we do know them because we may see them often, read about them, listen to their music, view their films as well as follow their life events.
In the case of Michael Jackson, I began listening to his music in the early days when he and his brothers first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and have followed him ever since. I even took my late daughter (also a MJ fan) to one of his concerts. During his personal struggles, I ached with him. I will truly miss him.
Another reason we react so strongly to the death is because they seem larger than life and we do not entertain the thought that they could die. I never thought Princess Diana would die in my lifetime.
We grieve for a public figure in many of the same ways that we do for our own personal loved ones. For example, we may cry, pray for them, attend their services. Other ways we demonstrate our grief and love for them is through placing flowers or other remembrances at some strategic location, and sending condolences to the family if possible.
We may gather in places associated with them in an effort to be near them. In my own life, my beloved daughter, Kandy, died about a year before Princess Diana’s death occurred, so my personal grief played into my reaction. I recall feeling that with Diana’s death, the whole world was falling apart.
We also react so strongly to the death of a public figure because the media continuously present their life and legacy and conditions surrounding their death as constant reminders.
In summary, we grieve for a public figure based on how familiar they are to us, how close we feel to them, and where we are in our own personal grief journey at the time.
Coralease C. Ruff is an Open To Hope Contributor and author of Her Light Still Shines.grief, hope