“While you may have felt there was darkness in you, the light of your soul came out through your hands and the gifts you have the world. Be at peace.”
This week the Internet has been filled with news of the deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Celine Dion’s husband Rene Angelil, all of whom died from cancer. My various social media streams have seen post after post from people mourning these various deaths, and I thought it was important to bring this up today in the depression awareness portion of this post.
As many of us experienced when Wink died, it is possible to feel extreme grief over the loss of someone that you’ve never met in person. It may be someone you’ve never communicated with, like a celebrity, but whose work has affected you in some way. You may feel sad simply that they are gone or you may feel sad in part because the manner of death (suicide for Wink, cancer in these recent examples) has been something that’s touched your life in the past.
Grief is normal, of course, and does not necessarily lead to depression. However, it can lead to depression for some people. And although I don’t have a specific researched reference for this, I suspect that people who have struggled with chronic depression in the past are more likely to relapse into depression when dealing with grief than other people who have never experienced major depression.
I believe this to be true in the case of celebrity deaths as well. People who related well to a specific celebrity, such as the iconic David Bowie, may feel that their world is a little adrift upon hearing the news of death. And that news isn’t just shared but is repeated again and again and again throughout the Internet. You can’t escape it and that repetition can be jarring.
Samantha Jeffries wrote a couple of years ago,
“The effect of a celebrity death feels like part of our youth has died and with the loss of Lou Reed this week that is very much reflected in the tributes to him. A loss of a little bit of what makes us who we are, the people who helped form how we are now. We align ourselves to famous people who are similar to us, we aspire to be like and who we look up to as role models and so they have an impact on us at certain times during our lives. When they die it is like a part of us has gone too and we will never get that back. It reminds us we all mortal and that we are still here and to make the most of our life, at least for a while.”
I think that might be what some people have experienced with Bowie’s death.
I don’t have specific advice about how to cope with the grief you might feel when a celebrity dies. But I do know that it’s important to engage in self-care when you are at risk of lapsing or relapsing into depression. Stay off of the Internet for awhile if the repeated news upsets you too much. Do something to honor the grief and facilitate the process of it; many people watched Labyrinth this week or listened to their favorite Bowie song on repeat. Respect your own feelings, find people that understand and seek out support if you need it.