Is it OK to grieve when a celebrity dies?
As a woman of a certain age I, like many in my peer group, spent my formative Wednesday evenings glued to the TV, tuned into the trials and tribulations of the group of impossibly old-looking teenagers on Beverly Hills 90210. Dylan, played by Luke Perry, was my TV boyfriend. His non-threatening bad boy character spoke to my 14-year old heart.
Fast forward many years, and my world was a bit turned upside down when I tuned into Riverdale on Netflix and, for the first time, found the parents in a show to be more interesting and more attractive than the kids. Yes, it probably had a lot to do with Luke Perry, but it still made me feel like an old lady.
When he died suddenly last March, I was sad in a way that was confusing to me. I wanted to sit alone in my room and…just be sad. Looked at objectively, it doesn’t make sense to me that I was grieving. I didn’t know him. The impact his death on me had amounted to not seeing him when I watch TV anymore. But the sadness pressed on me. This week when a Beverly Hills 90210 reboot premiered, that grief washed over me again.
As a grown woman, I don’t know what to do with this grief. It doesn’t compare to the pain of losing an in-real-life loved one. It almost feels frivolous to indulge it. But the feeling is real.
It makes me think of the young fans of Cameron Boyce. The 20-year-old actor died in his sleep from an epileptic seizure at the beginning of July. He was an actor in several popular Disney shows, including Jessie and the Descendants movies. Like me with Luke Perry, lots of kids responded with feelings of shock and confusion; a grief that doesn’t know where to land.
If you or your child feels affected by the death of a celebrity, you can be assured that you aren’t alone. Feeling grief is a normal response, even if you feel weird acknowledging that the sadness you are feeling is really grief.
In addition to the resources on Grieving Together, here are a few articles you can read for a deeper dive into celebrity deaths:
Why We Feel So Sad After Celebrity Deaths, Teen Vogue: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/why-we-feel-so-sad-after-celebrity-deaths
3 Reasons We Mourn Celebrity Deaths, Psychology Today: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/why-we-feel-so-sad-after-celebrity-deaths
(for parents of grieving kids) When a celebrity dies it can trigger grief and sadness, Chicago Tribune: https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-life-cameron-boyce-disney-grief-tt-0708-20190708-wv52sj55knf2lnbgnnqzfxfhzm-story.html