Why the death of celebrities like Queen Elizabeth can affect us so deeply

Why the death of celebrities like Queen Elizabeth can affect us so deeply

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The death of world leaders and celebrities can affect us as well. Jeff J. Mitchell / Getty Images
  • Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, passed away on September 8.
  • Since then, there has been an outpouring of grief on a global scale.
  • Experts say that grief is a normal reaction to the death of a known person.
  • Celebrity deaths affect us for many reasons, such as unresolved grief and the illusion of permanence.

On September 8, Britain’s longest-reigning Queen Elizabeth II passed away. For many people around the world, her death sparked feelings of deep sadness and grief.

If the Queen means something to you, you may be surprised at the depth of sadness you feel.

When someone close to you dies, it is normal and expected to experience heartbreak, grief, and loss, but when a celebrity passes – be it an actor, singer, or head of state – feelings of grief can take us by surprise.

You’ve likely mourned the death of a celebrity at some point. From JFK and Princess Diana to Kobe Bryant and the Prince, the death of a known person can leave you with a deep and perhaps unexpected sense of loss.

So why would you feel such deep sadness for someone you didn’t really know? According to experts, the answer is complex.

says Maria Bailey, founder of grief specialistsA group of grief coaches and therapists.

I know some people have been very embarrassed to talk about how deep their feelings are when someone dies in the public eye. However, these feelings are completely real and personal.”

Although you may not have had a conversation with this person or even been in their presence, Bailey says there is still a link there. In a simple way, they were still a part of your life.

“While our relationships with them are not like someone is a physical part of our lives, our bond is more shaped with the idea of ​​that person,” she explains.

“Maybe you’ve listened to their music for years, or watched them on TV every day, creating the feeling that they’ve been by our side all our lives.”

After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, for example, many people said it represented stability and tranquility in their lives. She was a familiar symbol of reliability.

Adrian Kirka psychotherapist who specializes in grief, refers to a concept known as “residual belief” and the illusion of permanence.

“A firm belief is a belief we internalized during our childhood, a belief that we don’t really consciously think about, and when it is ‘disproved’ (in this case, death) it can be destabilizing for us,” he explains.

For example, if a celebrity has always been a part of our lives, we may believe, on some level, that they will always be there. It can be devastating to realize that is not the case.

Feeling the shared experience can also compound feelings of sadness.

“We can gravitate towards a certain celebrity because we find traits in them that resonate with our lives and experiences,” Bailey says.

“It may also remind you of someone close to you,” she adds.

When a famous person passes, it can be difficult to escape their death with the frequency of news and the constant nature of social media.

“In the wake of a celebrity’s death, media coverage can increase your emotional involvement, as the amount of information about a celebrity increases,” Bailey explains.

“Sometimes there are programs that document their lives and you can learn more about them, like unseen footage.”

Bailey says this can deepen our relationship with this person and increase our feelings of sadness.

For some, the death of a celebrity serves as a painful reminder of the people close to them who have been lost.

“For many of my clients, the Queen’s death has saddened the loss of their mother or grandmother,” Kirk notes.

“One of my clients said, ‘It stirred up my grief,’ and I think that’s very profound.”

Whatever your reasons for feeling sad after the death of a celebrity, Billy wants to assure you that it’s normal.

“Human emotions are complex. We can’t help feeling that grief is a natural response to loss and that is perfectly normal.”

According to Bailey, what you should not do is compare your grief to someone else’s grief.

“Sorrow is as unique as the relationship you had with the person who died,” she notes. “When you think of a celebrity’s death as a lost relationship, even if it’s a one-way relationship, grief is a natural reaction.”

If you are surprised by the depth of your feelings, Kirk says the first thing you need to do is admit it.

“Don’t try to drive your feelings away from embarrassment. Be kind to yourself,” she advises.

It’s also a good idea to accept that not everyone shares your sense of loss.

“Not everyone will feel that way, and that’s okay,” Kirk says. “Our brains like to make sense of the world, and one of the ways we do it is by categorization — so if someone doesn’t agree with you, you assume one of you is wrong. But this is not one of those situations where one person is right and another person is wrong.”

Next, she says it’s important to remember that you can choose how much event coverage you want to consume.

“If you find wall-to-wall coverage annoying, you can turn it off; do something else. It’s not disrespect, it’s taking care of yourself.”

“You can allow yourself some space to grieve, and admit that it is sad and destabilizing and unsettling; and that it is taking another toll. And the fact that we are dead.”

Bailey recommends sharing feelings of sadness with others. You may find support from friends who were also fans of the person who passed or on fan pages online.

“It’s healthy and natural to want to tell stories and share memories, and saying out loud how you feel to someone you trust can help release your feelings,” she explains.

It may also help you to normalize the way you feel when you hear others share your feelings.

If you’re feeling worse than you expected about a celebrity’s death, Bailey advises thinking about why.

“Have you experienced bereavement or other losses in your life? How did you respond to them?” she asks.

“Are these feelings tucked away deep down? If so, it might be time to seek professional help,” she advises. “The death of a celebrity may have triggered an unresolved grief.”

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