Mourning the Loss of an Icon

I’ve never been one to linger over the death of celebrities.

Yes, I’ll feel sad, I’ll probably go to YouTube and watch a few videos, reminisce about what work of theirs I enjoyed and then move on with my life, because while yes, it is sad, I didn’t personally know them and I have limited time and energy.

I’ve often been perplexed by the outpouring of extreme grief for someone the person who is despondent over the loss of doesn’t personally know; I’ve always felt that the excessive time energy and resources spent in mourning, would be better focused on people we know in real life; our friends, families and communities.

I have always felt that “celebrity worship” in general was over the top and that we’d all do better to give more time and attention to the things and people who are in our real lives, every day.

While some of it seems excessive to the point mental imbalance, I understand that characters in films or books become familiar and inspire us, and that those in the music industry literally created the soundtrack of our lives.

As we get older, more and more of those who had impact on our lives die, some before their time. In many ways, these losses represent the death of our childhood, coming of age or other important times in our lives. It’s also a harsh reminder of our own mortality.

The world is rapidly changing, people are more divided than they have ever been (in my lifetime) and many of us fear greatly for global political stability, the economy, the environment and those who are marginalized and often victimized in our society and it’s natural for the loss of something that helped us through hard times or inspired us to have a significant impact when we’re already sad, stressed and worried.

I noticed something interesting with the latest loss of a well known and beloved person. Not only was her work and her most beloved character being mourned, but she was being mourned as a real person, not just a character, a person who did good work on behalf of others, who used her celebrity status to help fight the stigma of mental illness, who was a feminist role model for young women and was a tireless advocate for others.

For myself, when I feel the loss of anyone, be they a family member, a neighbor or someone whose art influenced my life, I am going to carry what they meant to me and stood for out into the world.

For carrying on their work, shouting their message to the rooftops and making sure that their struggles and hard work were not in vain is the best way to honor their lives and death.

 


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