This wasn’t a post that I planned to write. It wasn’t even something that crossed my mind. But because the Glee community tragically lost another member the other day, I wanted to broach this topic with you this Friday morning. I know it’s not the happiest topic to start our weekend with but it’s an important part of fan culture. I’m talking about grieving over a celebrity death.
I was already having a less than amazing day Tuesday when news broke on my Twitter feed that Mark Salling (Puck from Glee) had passed from suicide. Almost immediately, a wave of emotions washed over me. I basically lost any productivity I had that day. The news broke around midday and when it was later confirmed that Mark had hung himself… it was like July 20 all over again.
And just last month, before the holidays, a Korean pop star was found dead in his home. He also killed himself but through carbon monoxide inhalation. As much as it saddens me to write these next few words, I’m almost glad I wasn’t a fan of his. I don’t know if I’d be able to cope if I was.
It is unfortunate that in the last few years, we’ve lost so many amazing and wonderfully talented celebrities. But, I don’t know, there’s just something more tragic and heartbreaking when they die from a drug overdose or by suicide.
And it hurts. Excuse my French but it fucking hurts. It seriously fucking hurts.
Am I crazy? To feel such pain and grief around the death of a stranger? Click To Tweet
Nope, not even a little bit.
When you’re a fangirl or a member of a fandom — however small — everything becomes personal. But I’m here to tell you today that it’s ok. It’s ok to grieve a celebrity death.
1. We understand why they did it
Addiction and suicide are extremely personal and often hidden away. It’s sometimes hard to imagine a celebrity fighting addiction or suicidal thoughts. They have everything — money, fame, love, joy — they’re untouchable. Only the weak struggle with such things right? Or at least, that’s what society has been whispering in our ears for decades. But we don’t know what happens behind closed doors.
So when we find out that a celebrity killed himself by accidental overdose or suicide, it just feels more personal. Maybe we’re struggling with similar things or we lost someone in the same way. For me, it was my friend’s birthday the day before Mark Salling’s suicide. My friend died of a drug overdose. But honestly, the reason doesn’t matter – not really – not as much as we get why they did it. And understanding something makes it that much more real.
2. They helped us but we couldn’t help them
I loved Glee. And I loved Linkin Park. They got me through a lot of rough patches and I really relied on them for a sense of belonging.I would turn to Linkin Park’s music when I needed to tune out the world. Watching Puck, Sam, and Blaine on Glee work through their insecurities, even if only on a TV show, really gave me the courage and hope to keep on fighting. Even though I fell in love first with their music and work, I followed these celebrities’ personal lives as well.Just as it hurts when you can't do anything to help a friend or family member, you also feel powerless when you watch celebrities struggle. (Yep, Corey Monteith's death was tough too) Click To Tweet
3. We see it everywhere
Seriously, everywhere. I actually had to turn off social media when I heard about Chester’s and Mark’s death because it was all over my feeds. Even though for Chester’s death, it was mostly tweets of support from fans worldwide, this constant exposure still made it hard to deal with the raw emotions of grieving over a celebrity death.
4. Other people judge us for grieving
When people don’t share our love and passion for something, it’s difficult to understand our heartbreak and grief. Sometimes even though they may mean well, people can invalidate our feelings, leaving us feeling worse. Almost as if something is wrong with us because we’re grieving over a celebrity death. This lack of support can close us off, feeling even more isolated and alone than we may have felt before.
5. They will never do or create anything new
When someone’s gone, they’re gone forever and as fortunate as we are to have what they’ve already created to fall back on, it’s tough knowing that there won’t be anything new that we can love and adore. Part of the joy of being a fan is to watch our favorites grow and improve. And deny it all you want but I think everyone loves happy endings.