I felt unsettled and upset when I heard Luke Perry died, at the age of fifty-two, from a severe stroke. Logically, I knew I didn’t know him and have never met him, but I felt a sense of loss. Being a licensed psychotherapist, I know it is normal to feel sadness and even to grieve a celebrity’s death. Often times, their death triggers an earlier unresolved loss within ourselves. When you are not aware of this, your original grief can get transferred onto a particular celebrity.
A reflection of your own life
Shortly after hearing the news, I grabbed a pen and notebook. On the page, I spilled out a deep sadness which connected to my own personal experience. My Mom died after having two severe strokes. Each stroke happened without warning and left a path of devastation. Not only did these strokes change my Mom’s life, but also the entire family. Relationships once repaired were now ruptured again. This happened seven and a half years ago, I am still sifting through the rubble.
I know how a severe stroke touches all family members and in very different ways. I have empathy for the shock and emotional pain the family faces from such a sudden loss. Unlike Luke Perry, my Mom lived five months longer before her second severe stroke and heart attack. Again, there was no warning and this stroke left her unresponsive.
Reminds you of your own mortality
When a celebrity is close to your own age at the time of their death, it is only natural you begin to think of your own life. Luke Perry is close to my own age. Having multiple family members die young, this death reminds me of how fragile life is and of my own mortality.
A connection to your past
Most of you can connect actors or singers with special times in your life. Whether it was a song, a TV show or movie, it became a part of the important milestone you experienced.
I grew up watching Luke Perry on the TV show Beverly Hills 90210, every week. I often viewed the show with a group of girlfriends throughout high school. We would gather at one house, with snacks and hushed voices, hanging on every word. The tradition continued in college. A group of us met in my dorm room huddled around the TV. The door to our room would be left open because it was hot in there. You could hear all the way down the hallway the same show being broadcasted. A part of my young adult life is now gone, along with many past relationships with the girls. As, you can see there can be multiple levels of grieving that occur.
A sense of community with your grief
I am not one to share on social media how a celebrity death affects me, although I have written this blog post. Many people find comfort posting about their celebrity crushes and connecting about the loss. Often grief is a solitary activity, you don’t have to feel alone in today’s world. You can see how other people care about the celebrity’s death as much as you do and bond together.
An opportunity to heal
Although you may never know the celebrity you grieve for, their passing can be a trigger to your own emotional wounds. In their death, unknowingly, they offer you an opportunity to look in the mirror and heal past pain.
Lisa Hutchison LMHC is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Lisa is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. Pick up her FREE gift 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now! at http://www.lisahutchison.net