I’d say that it’s been noticed by almost everyone on Earth, but 2016 has been a bitch for celebrity deaths. It feels that almost every day we’re treated to the latest announcement of a much treasured person no longer being around and the out pouring of superlatives from all corners shows exactly what that man or woman had meant to the world as a whole.
And therein is the point.
Why do actors and musicians etc. have this kind of effect that so many people feel the loss of a relative stranger so keenly?
My wife is an enormous Prince fan so his death knocked her for six. But at least hers was a real person. When I watched the latest Star Wars film I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach following the *spoiler free – although by now I’d have thought that everyone knows* death at the end of the film. Both of us had something which meant so very much to us taken away in some form. A giant piece of how we’d grown up was no longer there and that giant piece had left a hole of similar proportions.
But why the effect?
Well, as far as I can recognise, all of the people in this bracket have almost been seen as being larger than life. They never played by the rules and just did what they wanted. They were everything anyone could have wanted to be and appeared to be untouchable. They’d never die.
Growing up we all develop that level of hero worship and that overlays into the real world as well. Those stars will always be there. So will our family. So will our pets. Death is just beyond them because the thought of our family etc. not being there any more isn’t a thought we want to even entertain. We’re happy to always have the thought that these people will always be there, as is pointed out in the David Bowie starring film Labyrinth, “should you need us”, for whatever we may need them for. Finally seeing them exposed as the humans they are can be a jarring shock.
Even now, as adults, when we lose that one person who had such an impact on our lives, we get dragged back to feeling like our child self and the impact of the death is felt in much the same way a child would. If the star can die, so can everyone else. If the one person who was beyond the reach of everything life had to throw at them was caught, that means it’s only a matter of time before other people in your life fall victim.
We lose a treasured friend and inspiration but we’re also forced to confront life’s harshest reality. We’re all temporary. Our mortality is exposed. It doesn’t matter that someone has achieved the greatest of things in life or had just been the distant relative you only see on the odd special occasion, each and every one of us is only here for a very short time.
Everyone has the power to be amazing and we can all have a monstrously powerful effect on another, even if we’re not world famous. So many of us leave this world on a daily basis and leave a hole behind, I just hope that each and every one of us knows that no matter who or what we are, we too, have left a hole somewhere.