Grieving the Death of a Celebrity


The recent news of Kobe Bryant’s death shook the world. It impacted basketball fans, sports fans, the average American, and people throughout the world. We were inundated with information on the nightly news and social media as the world collectively gasped in one accord. We also remembered to pay homage to the other victims in the helicopter crash. As we saw photos of the basketball giant and his daughter, we looked at our own children, aware it could happen to us. With the death of such a monumental figure, our own humanity and vulnerability were laid bare. We too recognized how short life can be, the unfairness of it, and struggled with concepts of life and death in its brevity.

Grief is a natural response to losing a person. It can be a pet, home, family member, friend, co-worker, or a celebrity. We all react through sheer emotion. Perhaps we lament the loss to the sports community, grieve over the senseless loss of life, or fear that such an event could happen in our own lives as well. Whatever your response is, it is correct, right, and appropriate. Yet if you are struggling with understanding what you feel, here are a few tips for you while you grieve:

  1. Allow yourself to grieve as you want (get together with friends, write a post, talk about it, cry, take a walk, work-out, eat, or sit in silence).

  2. Allow yourself the time to grieve.

  3. Allow the emotions that you feel (outrage, guilt, fear, sadness, longing) to emerge.

  4. Allow yourself to remember.

As you give yourself allowance to grieve and process the loss, remember that no one grieves the same way. Here are three questions you can ask yourself to guide you in making sense of what you feel.

Reality Changing Observations:

  1. What does this person (loss) mean to me?

  2. How is the world different because of this person (loss)?

  3. How has this person (loss) contributed to who I am?