Today the world is mourning the loss of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and 7 others who died in a helicopter crash yesterday. Personally, I am not a sports fan, so I didn’t feel much emotionally in connection to Kobe, although I empathize with the loss that his family, friends, fellow players, and fans feel, and always feel sorrow at the loss of children who barely got to live.
When celebrities die, I’ve often heard people complain about all the fuss they get. About how we act like they matter more than any other person who lives and dies. People complain about the adulation celebrities receive after their death, while “real” heroes like soldiers, firefighters, police officers, emergency workers, and others die without much recognition at all.
While I understand this sentiment, I think the reason that celebrity tragedies get so much attention isn’t because we truly think their lives are worth more than anyone else’s, but because so many people feel like they actually know them. If we are fans of their art or achievements, we feel a bond with them, even if we have never met.
I know I felt this way with Michael Jackson, Robin Williams, and Alan Rickman. I loved their work, their personalities, even their flaws to some extent. It felt like there was a relationship between us, even though there wasn’t. Thinking about their deaths still makes me sad because I miss them, just like I miss my father and sister who have passed on.
I believe this feeling can even occur with people who died before we were born. I feel like I know Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and John Lennon in intimately real ways, when obviously I didn’t (unless I lived previous lives, but that is another topic altogether lol).
Who are some celebrity deaths that you felt deeply?