News of David Bowie and Alan Rickman’s deaths this week to cancer have the world reeling. It’s all over my Facebook feed, trending on Twitter, and the subject of numerous articles and TV shows. David Bowie’s songs are scattered over the iTunes Top Songs list. Touching tributes by friends are being shared as they grieve their passing.
When I saw this post entitled “I. Can’t” by The Bloggess, which is beautifully written and totally well explained, I nonetheless asked myself: WHY?
Why cry when you hear that a celebrity who you never met has died?
Am I missing something? I’m not meaning this to be a criticism of others’ feelings-you are totally entitled to mourn however you choose. But I can scratch my head in disbelief a bit. I simply don’t understand how you can cry over the loss of someone you never knew (except for their work).
To be sure, it says something about Bowie and Rickman and their talents that the universal response is one of sadness, shock, and dismay. I get that. But to burst into tears and succumb to emotions and let it take over your day, well, then that befuddles me. And just so you know, I am a bit of a cry baby and no, my tear ducts are fully functional.
I get that Bowie might be symbolic for people as encouragement to be yourself and push the envelope. That Rickman made you feel like you knew him because he was a brilliant actor. No doubt they were both amazing men who were joys to know by all accounts—by those that knew them.
What is the deal that our culture latches onto “celebrity” and then is horrified when they are suddenly gone. We elevate musicians and actors and are seemingly stunned when the inevitable happens. Yes, they too die. Perhaps that is what surprises us most: we think in their grandeur and stature, they are immune to death.
I also think it caught everyone off guard because few knew they both were battling cancer. Cancer sucks, we can all agree on that. If everyone who posted or tweeted today about their loss would donate $ 5 to cancer research, then imagine what difference THAT would make. It seems that people are attaching some emotional connection to their deaths because of how they lived and their influence. That’s cool-but for heaven’s sake, don’t go into a hole and cry for 3 days.
My takeaway from learning of Bowie and Rickman’s deaths is to LOVE while we can–furiously and creatively like Bowie and with range and depth like Rickman. Love those around you and tell them every chance you get.