In the wake of the recent deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, comes Billy Mays. A lot of death in a very short time. Any family would be grieving to be sure. What if you are not family or even friends and you are grieving? Is that normal? Is it a necessary part of your emotional process to deal with these celebrity deaths?
I’m reminded of a relative of mine who literally fell apart when Princess Diana died. This woman had obviously never met Princess Diana yet they mourned for her as if Princess Diana had been their own daughter. Was this normal? I’m sure many psychiatrists would say “definitely not”.
So how far should we as a non family member to the deceased or a not close friend, go in our mourning? I’ve known many that mourned for years over a favorite rock stars death or perhaps even a favorite actor or actress. Even a favorite president.
How can we as family members of such people help them back to reality? The first thing we can do is to remind these family members and friends that these people live on in our memories through their music, movies or series of shows or even because of their political beliefs. Perhaps sitting with them while they listen to some of their favorites. Feeling badly that someone has passed on is a normal feeling.
When the non family member that has never even met the person lingers in feelings of sadness and grief, it might be time for some professional help.
Be gentle with the friend or family member in this situation. If the person is sad and tearful it is better to tactfully suggest they seek counseling or even get them to a counselor rather than tell them how silly it is to be mourning someone they never knew. They aren’t at a point that they are able to hear you so don’t exasperate yourself by trying to reason with them. They are not able to be reasoned with.
Take a moment and recognize that perhaps they were living in an altered state of reality themselves. Living a life of fantasy is another way of coping with a situation in life that is difficult to tolerate. You are going to have to be supportive, loving and above all patient with these people. Your patience is going to be taxed and you are going to find the grieving to be absolutely ridiculous to you.
Give them time, share the movies and music with them for awhile and help them to seek outside sources for counseling and their own emotional recovery.