“There have just been so many deaths this year,” I said to my therapist earlier this week as she tried to break me down and understand the root of my paralyzing fear of death.
“There are so many deaths every year,” she said, dismissing my statement. “It’s no different.”
Reflecting on the year, I’ve considered whether life seemed more intense because it was a leap year or because I was carefully documenting each day. The list of celebrity deaths seem more prevalent than ever, but are we just chronicling and socially mourning more than ever?
It’s strange to mourn the death of someone you’ve never met, someone who you don’t depend on for your everyday life yet we collectively feel a dagger in the heart every time we get the CNN Breaking News alerts on our phones. Another death. Who now?
Yes, the potential for more “entertainment” from the celebrity is halted, but many of the deaths are of people who haven’t produced for many years. (At least David Bowie had the courtesy to leave us with one last album and Carrie Fisher was able to finish her Star Wars VIII scenes.) Yet our human tendency projects others’ dramas onto ourselves and somehow their deaths hold a mirror up to our own mortality.
Here is a comprehensive list of all 2016 Celebrity Deaths, but highlights include:
David Bowie, 69
Alan Rickman, 69
Glenn Frey, 67
Garry Shandling, 66
Muhammad Ali, 74
Elie Wiesel, 87
Garry Marshall, 81
Gene Wilder, 83
Leonard Cohen, 82
Florence Henderson, 82
Alan Thicke, 69
Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99
Carrie Fisher, 60
Debbie Reynolds, 84
The media’s coverage of famous deaths can have us believing this year is worse than ever, but the real statistics tell us it’s all status quo on the rate of dead celebrities.
The way we grieve as a culture – within our local communities – or on the Internet is different now. Because of the abundance of over-sharing in our culture, we inadvertently partake in a public pity party with the invisible connections on the other end of our phones and keyboards. I’m not sure if it makes our personal grief lighter, but somehow we’ve taken on celebrity grief as real, even though their lack of physical presence will not actually affect our daily lives.
We’re not even sad for the dead person, we’re sad for ourselves; what was taken FROM us. As if we were entitled to them anyway, as if they were a possession. When our bodies depart this earth, who we’ve been stays behind. The us we’ve sprinkled into our partners, children, friends; through our creations and our jobs and contributions to our communities. The mark we leave behind will last longer than the time we have here.
We are a piece of meat flying on a rock in the middle of the galaxy. It’s a miracle we don’t explode and burst into dust. We can’t worry about the little things and certainly, celebrity deaths should be the easiest for us to tolerate. Notorious figures live on indefinitely in their art and in the ripple effect they have on the population as their fans absorb pieces of them by osmosis. We can’t leave actual pieces of our bodies behind and possessions will deteriorate eventually, but we can leave behind stories. We can leave behind memories. We can leave behind lessons. Celebrities are just the lucky ones who die with an eager audience waiting for their eternal endowment.
4 thoughts on ““Mourning Celebrity Deaths” Club”
Tomorrow is your day. I visualize you crushing the last lap of this 365 day marathon. Perhaps in a full sprint filled with adrenaline riding out your victory with the powerful speed and force of all you have learned, gained, sacrificed and proven you are capable of accomplishing. Or perhaps you will approach the finish line in a slow and measured trot savoring each final breathe and feeling the earth beneath you with each step and stroke of your keyboard. I look forward to hearing about your experience and how it will unfold tomorrow – day 365/365. Maybe you have already decided how you would like to complete this assignment. Or maybe you will let the day take its course and unfold as a mystery. This is yours. All yours, to take and own and design. I imagine you will be exceptionally mindful, all of your senses absorbing each detail, taking in all the energy and emotions … inside of you and all that surrounds you. The momentum you created and fed each day of this year providing you with a strength, tenacity and stride that was unbreakable. Tomorrow as you feel yourself breaking through the real life victory of your accomplishment. My imagination conjures the image of a fierce athlete breaking through the red satin sash of cloth symbolizing your finish line, I see your arms open and wide in the air, your head held high as you own this victory with enormous pride and confidence. A smile of pure satisfaction spread wide across your face. Excuse my cheesy marathon metaphor, I have no better way to describe what I imagine an experience such as this might be…. I guess I am relating to your win with the joy and enthusiasm as friend might while watching along the sidelines cheering for you and watching you conquer each mile of the NYC marathon.
But, tomorrow will be your own real life experience of success and completion as you cross your true finish line, in the manner and with the tempo you will only know after tomorrow. Tomorrow is your day. Tomorrow is your day to cross that line and step into your new world, with the freedom of winning and knowing that you can and will accomplish anything you set your mind to do, for every day forward is yours to conquer. And conquer you will – whatever your next project may be. Tomorrow you enter a new club “Galina’s Kick Ass Writer Club” it is a magical and joyful place where hearts are everywhere and dreams do come true.
Congratulations. I am so thrilled for you, inspired by you, and in awe of all you have accomplished this year as you have written your way to own the title of professional writer. >
Absolutely mind blowing!!! Your writing has gotten exponentially better (even though it was amazing to start!)
“We are a piece of meat flying on a rock in the middle of the galaxy. It’s a miracle we don’t explode and burst into dust.” — This line sounds like it came directly from my brain.
You put life into a positively realistic view and wrap it delicious in irony, satire, and a dark comedy maybe I can only understand. I am so very proud of you and what you have achieved this year. I know how hard it has been and you are a complete inspiration to me and many others.
I look forward to what you’ll do next (AFTER a long, nice rest,..and perhaps a retreat??) I know you will do great things…
And in the wise words of Dr. Suess in the book you gave me when I graduated, Oh the Places You Will Go! I now turn these words onto you. (Mainly because I can’t come up with anything better than how he says it)
“Kid, you’ll move mountains! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!”
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
“And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)”
I love you and CONGRATULATIONS on a real achievement that will be remembered and recorded forever!!! And I promise it will be in print – at least 1 edition!
Thanks so much for these words but I’d love to point out it’ll be fucking piece number 366 because only crazy lunatics start “365” projects in a leap year!!! Your support is everything bc on this side of the keyboard continues to be a place of lonely doubt … but I can’t step away!!! Xoxo
Thank you for a lifetime of support and cheering! I love you!!!