Why do we care when a celebrity dies?

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.

Why do we care when a celebrity dies_

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



25 thoughts on “Why do we care when a celebrity dies?

  1. An insightful post Lisa, and I agree with you how it can trigger our own emotions of past experience, you did the right thing in writing out your emotions and feelings, I think once we acknowledge our emotions, and express them, seeing them written, helps us heal from within..
    We have so many hidden layers that we think we have dealt with, and such triggers often bring back the rawness of grief and loss..
    I had to look up the actor as I didn’t know him by name, or I thought I didn’t until I recognised his picture image..
    Sending love and well wishes Lisa..
    And thank you for sharing your emotional journey with us ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Lisa Very well done. Thank you for your insight into feelings that may surround a celebrity’s death. I hadn’t thought of the ramifications of such a death. I’m always glad to read and hear your point of view on any subject.

    Love, Carol

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are absolutely right. We never know what will trigger those still-tender places and, when a celebrity has been part of an important personal event or ritual, we probably notice and feel this passing more deeply. Thanks for an excellent post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Luke Perry’s death came as a shock to me Lisa because I used to watch the serial. It isn’t just celebrities whose deaths can make us revisit our own grief wounds. About 6 months after I quit my corporate job, one of the Partners in the firm with whom I was still in touch and who was barely 6 months older to me, died of a massive heart attack after an open heart surgery.

    He was an important figure in the Indian finance world and one of the most humble people I knew.

    The death was caused by his taking on stress and working in the hospital (how he was allowed to do that is beyond my imagination).

    Considering that I had a suspected angina attack a year earlier and had taken some hard choices because the will to live was strong, all I could think was it could have been me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lisa, like you I was shocked when I heard of Luke Perry’s stroke and death. I had just watched a fairly new movie he was in on Hallmark – he played a cowboy. So very sad. Loss affects us all in different ways – it’s never easy. This week I found out my best friends father has prostate cancer and a short time to live. Our neighbor just lost his wife, and my friends husband died of a heart attack. I pull up my courage boots to be here in support of my friends at this very difficult time. Love to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. At 69 there are fewer and fewer of the idols and celebrities from my own generation alive. Every time one passes, I feel my own mortality. Plus, the whole era that they represented seems to fade away as if it never existed. I cried for days when John Lennon died and I was married with children. More recently, it was David Bowie’s death that hit me hard. He was the one I looked to when I needed to find my own individuality. All I know is, there must be one hell of a band up in heaven these days!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for connecting the dots so many may not always understand. Triggers I know well and regardless of what triggers me, I look deeper into the wisdom within to the root. Loved your insight into this. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “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” another person who you may or may not know well. I could not seem to grieve at my father’s death, but when i went to a funeral of someone I did not know very well, I could not stop the flow of tears. This gentleman reminded me of father. I think loss is at the bottom of many depressions and addictions. We do need to pay attention to grief and loss and find a way to deal with them.
    Janet Jacobson

    Liked by 1 person

    • Janet, yes anyone’s death can remind us of an earlier loss and trigger a past grief. I did not grieve my father’s death until many years later because I was a young child when he died. Grief has its own timetable. When we open up to the grief experience and can be gentle with ourselves, that helps the healing process. I hope you are well and thanks for sharing your personal experience!


  9. People are different. Some want to always follow up on anything that involves celebrities.
    It also depends on how much one adores and loves celebrities.
    Let’s just say in that part of Europe I come originally from, celebrity idolization was never reaching the level which it does reach in the USA or Canada.
    That does not mean that people do not care.
    I don’t watch TV any longer (more than a year now) since I found there is nothing for me. Shallow shows or series with weak acting, old movies (our TV provider) and always negative news and bad predictions and so on. TV nowadays popularizes the wrong values (greed especially) and this does not go together with my values.
    Therefore, I hear here and there about some celebrities, you cannot avoid that completely, but I have most often no idea who these people are.
    I think there are lots of people who do not know these persons who they call “household names”. At least, I know many people. Therefore, it’s more a north american thing, I believe.
    Nevertheless, anybody passing over creates sadness and makes us reflect on our own life.
    My mom just recently passed away and that was a thing of the strongest impact.
    Painting and drawing cures me from everything. That includes physical pain, as well. Art also takes care about good memory (I have photographic memory), cognitive function and brain flexibility.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sorry to hear about you mom, Inese. After my Mom’s death, writing was the expressive art I most connected with, although any art form can heal a grieving heart.

      I agree there does appear to be cultural differences. I watch a lot less TV than I did growing up. As you, I find it boring or too intense/violent. I believe TV caters to the younger generations anyhow.

      Take Care Inese, you are in my thoughts.


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