Celebrity, as a phenomena, is defined as fame, renown, or public eminence; or being so well-known through assorted mediums as to be transfixed in the lives of the common man. We put celebrities under a microscope along with the spotlight so as to know the fantastic as well as the mundane regarding their daily lives.
Yet, nothing quite compares to those fateful dates when said celebrities vanish from the physical world with a swarm of high profile news flashes, tweets and Facebook “R.I.P.’s”.
Celebrity deaths present an interesting dichotomy within the mind of the average human being. Each of us has our own treasured memories of movie scenes, T.V. shows, music videos, sports moments, well written literature and general fame that make complete strangers like Joan Rivers, Robin Williams and others we’ve lost into such lovable “characters”.
On the other hand, most of us do not have any first hand memories of the person themselves. I had never met Robin Williams, yet I was shocked and saddened by his death. I wanted answers as to why I would never see Mrs. Doubtfire Part II: Doubt-Fire with Fire.
The grief over his passing came in a wave, drowning my childhood dreams and then was quickly washed into the back of my subconscious, only to resurface during nostalgic movie binge watching nights.
With some celebrities I find myself trying to remember whether they have even passed away or if I just assumed they had (sorry, actor Wayne Knight, a.k.a. “Newman” from Seinfeld). Other times I feel only a sense of pity for them. As was the case of the sadly departed Roy Tarpley, former Dallas Maverick basketball stand-out, who passed away at the age of 50 after a long and public battle with alcohol and substance abuse.
We share a similar progression through the stages of grief when a celebrity passes away as we do in the death of a relative or close friend:
First, the feeling of denial is common (unless the celebrity in question had spent more time in rehab than in the recording studio).
Anger, bargaining and depression are dependent upon your personal preferences (Some preferred John to Paul, or Paul to George… or all to Ringo).
Lastly, acceptance is achieved only after the news is confirmed by both TMZ and Entertainment Tonight.
All kidding aside, celebrities are in fact human beings just like us (sorry, Lassie, Flipper and that dog from Frasier). They may live extraordinary lives, but they breathe the same air, eat the same gourmet sushi, drink the same non-fat whip mocha lattes, and drive the same Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadsters that we all do.
Written by: Matthew Morian
Matt is a licensed funeral director & embalmer in the State of Texas and is a founding member of Millennial Directors. He is also a contributor to Texas Director Magazine.