Outpourings of #RIP on Instagram, Twitter or any other social media network are very common these days. You can often learn about recent celebrity deaths death anniversaries by following hashtags and social posts articulating extreme feelings of sadness. Recently, this list has included scientist Stephen Hawkins, fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, rapper Craig Mack, and Bollywood actress Sridevi. I’ve also seen tons of posts commemorating the death anniversaries of Heath Ledger, Whitney Houston, and Notorious BIG.
But why as a society do we mourn celebrity deaths?
Why do we feel so sad?
Why Feelings Of Sadness For a Celebrity Death Are Good For Us
When a celebrity death occurs, you see fewer posts about lost pets and dead grandparents and more about strangers people have never met. According to Psychology Today, the feelings of sadness we have when a celebrity dies can actually be good for us. Here’s why:
1. It Heightens our Sense of Empathy and Understanding for Those who are Suffering
Many celebrities who die prematurely have battled demons that would have normally stayed secret in a non-famous person. These demons include alcoholism, drug abuse, and depression. These deaths may help us to better understand addiction and heighten our empathy for those suffering. The deaths may also provide publicity of certain diseases we might never be exposed to otherwise. Or we might see someone who died that didn’t deserve it and we feel sympathy for the unfair hand that life dealt them.
2. Our Feelings can Provide Clues as to What’s Missing from our Lives
Most of us don’t know famous musicians. But when we hear that Michael Jackson, Prince or Whitney Houston died, we are transported back to a place and time when their music was a source of comfort. When these artists die, they take a little piece of our pasts with them.
Suggested Read: Remembering Loved Ones Through Songs
These moments of nostalgia give us the chance to examine our lives and see what’s working and what isn’t. A brief trip down memory lane might remind us of what we wanted for our lives when we were young, what we’ve achieved, and which dreams we’ve forgotten about.
3. Collective Mourning Connects us to a Larger Community
Collective mourning helps connect us to others in purposeful ways. It also reminds us that we’re part of a certain generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, or Millennials, and helps us to celebrate the moments that define us.
Celebrity deaths teach us that everyone will die someday, and neither fame nor wealth nor talent protects us from that. Understanding life’s finiteness will help us to appreciate what we have before it’s gone.