The passing of celebrities can often be traumatic experiences for people who have never met them. That inexplicable grief that people feel can often be viewed as insincere or confusing to those who don’t share similar connections to the deceased.
The passing of basketball legend Kobe Bryant in January, the accidental drowning of Glee star Naya Rivera recently and Friday’s passing of Black Pantherstar Chadwick Boseman are all deaths that have been met with an outpouring of grief by fans this year.
However, the feeling is not unusual or without cause, according to a clinical counselor. Dr Rachel O’Neill, in an interview with Teen Vogue, said grief from a celebrity’s death is common because people may feel a close personal connection to them.
O’Neill said, “Celebrities connect with us, and even though we didn’t personally know them, their presence is still felt in our lives,” she says. “For example, maybe the individual was an integral part of your childhood in some way.”
She continued, “Maybe they were your first crush or maybe they represented an ideal, something you hoped that you could be. Or perhaps the celebrity held a particular important memory in your life — for example, they starred in a TV show that you watched growing up. In those cases, the death can feel like a loss of that particular part of your past.”
Even so, it can still be off to mourn people we have never met. To help deal with these instances, the suggests that people may revisit their old work, connect with others who are grieving, keep a journal and try learning for from the experience to cope with the grieving process.