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Why Celebrity Deaths Affect Us

We recently had a number of beloved celebrities pass away, and few of us have been left unscathed by it. My own personal sorrow at losing a couple of them has left me slightly embarrassed and my grief and wondering why the death of someone I’ve never met affects me at all.

The most obvious reason would be nostalgia. David Bowie was a huge part of the soundtrack of my teenage years, and his death is a bit like losing a part of my youth. He took a piece of it with him when he left.

There is more to it than that, though. His music affected me. I spent a multitude of hours holed up in my teen cave just sitting and listening. David Bowie, along with other musicians, gave me things that real life didn’t. They were like friends who really “got” me in a way that no one else did. That feeling is palpable, and it’s a powerful thing to lose a relationship that gives you that experience. We rarely feel that with the “real” people in our lives.

When we deeply resonate with our preconceived notions of a celebrity, it smacks us over the head with our own mortality when they die. This is especially true when they are in our age group. They seem bigger than life and immortal, so we are rudely reminded that none of us escapes death. Our existence is fragile, and no amount of love, accolades, success, or creativity is going to keep us here. There is no getting around that.

Whenever someone’s death affects me, whether I knew them or not, I like to think about the one thing that I admired the most about them. That thing is what I’m meant to learn from them, so I take that quality and I incorporate it into my life. We are all connected, you know, regardless of how lofty or lowly our pedestal is. David Bowie can teach me just as much about the world as anyone can.

Barbara Buck is a Foundational Reconnective Healing Practitioner, writer, and teacher. For more information about her, please visit her website at Check her out on the Happy Empaths Twitter feed @the_empath.


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