Just before the year is out, we lose another celebrity… and our grief immediately turns to shaming an entire year for every loss it has brought our way.
Thanks, 2016, for like, the worst. year. ever!!!
I’m as affected as anyone by a celebrity death – we all are… And I think about the “next one” and know that in 25 years, if I start outliving musicians like Tori Amos or Ani DiFranco, I’m going to lose my mind. Or what about when Tom Hanks, Tina Turner, or Meryl Streep die? Oh my! Perish the thought!
But why are we so quick to “blame” an entire year, just because things seem to fall into clusters?
But… I think we seriously need to stop picking on 2016, as far as celebrity deaths.
Because these clusters happen… and it happened in 1997. (Pardon me for a moment, but this feels like a “When I was your age” kind of feeling).
When I was your age, we lost Mother Teresa…
AND the Notorious B.I.G!
And somehow we faced it without crying into social media about the whole year being shit.
That was in 1997, by the way. I was a sophomore in college, closeted, but connected to a community, grieving equally Rich Mullins among other celebrity losses.
Was 1997 the WORST. YEAR. EVER?
I don’t know.
It may have felt that way for massacred Algerians in the Civil War, but there were no memes for them either.
So what is social media doing to us when it comes to collective grief?
Are we grieving, or are we just ranting and then sharing random thoughts, songs, and clips?
In 1997, during every single one of those deaths, I didn’t have a Facebook (or even MySpace) page to turn to for discussions.
I had my community of friends and professors at college.
I noticed that this year again, when it came to the election results, for example – what was said on Facebook and social media made me feel worse (still does) – but what is said in communities, with face-to-face people, was like a story-telling experience that will never be forgotten.
I’m not saying that there is a wrong way to grieve… times are changing and life is always taking us farther down the path to death, whether we like it or not.
But maybe instead of ranting about how awful each of these deaths are, we can stop and celebrate, face-to-face, what each of these celebrities and leaders mean to us.
People who we have NEVER MET had profound impact on how we see the world.
This is something to be discussed and shared in conversations and at gatherings with those who are ACTUALLY NOT STRANGERS to our lives.
Our workplaces. Our families. Our neighborhoods – that’s where we shared our stories…
When I was younger.
2016 has had some shockers! But let’s be real. Every year we will lose people we have never met, who found a way into our hearts. In 2001, we faced a collective loss of people we never met… (2001 was a cluster for sure – we also lost Aaliyah, Jack Lemmon, George Harrison, and Dale Earnhardt that year). Maybe 2001 was the worst. year. ever. What about 2012 and Sandy Hook Shootings? What about the year of the Paris bombings? Feels like forever ago already, but that was just in 2015. Wasn’t last year the worst. year. ever?
Maybe instead of catastrophizing the clusters, we lean into the grief and let it guide us to celebrate how complete strangers can influence us…
And ask ourselves if we give our friends and family that same authority and pleasure.
And if we don’t… Maybe we are missing more than musicians, entertainers, and leaders – maybe we are missing brothers and sisters in community.
Maybe we grieve strangers in a BIG way because we can’t admit how we are actually failing to grieve or LOVE friends and community, right here and now, because of our screens…
These are just my thoughts – I don’t think everyone who is going into social media is avoiding in real life connections but I do see a trend…
Because when I was your age…
We just dealt with it.
To those we lost, we say RIP…
To those of us still here, may we stop living like we are in fragmented pieces and start honoring lives lost, by living in peace and community.
Perhaps, when we have a sense of community, there’s no such thing as the worst. year. ever…
Namaste, yo. I hope you tell your stories, to people you meet…