When Celebrities Die
When my boyfriend asked me if I heard the news of Kobe Bryant’s death I was in shock. My response was, “No, that’s gotta be a hoax” and I returned to prepping sessions as was my plan for the day. Then I started digging through social media and more and more people were posting about Kobe. My heart sank. When the official reports came out from sources like ESPN and Bleacher Report, I knew there was no more denying it. I was overcome with sadness.
Mourning the death of someone you don’t know personally can be complicated. You experience a sense of confusion as to where your grief is coming from and how you can share it with others in a way that it (and you) will be accepted. You don’t have memories with them the same way you do with someone you knew but you still have them. For some people, Kobe Bryant may be the reason they fell in love with watching or playing basketball. He may have been the driving factor behind them achieving something great in their lives. Watching Kobe Bryant play basketball might be what helped someone feel their emotions for the first time or might be what kept someone alive for another night. Attending a Lakers game might have been a date night for two people who ended up getting married or it might have been what kept a family together on the brink of collapse. Watching a phenomenal athlete play is like watching a brilliant composer lead a symphony. It moves you.
To be impacted by the death of someone we didn’t know shows our innate human tendency toward connection. It shows our ability to move beyond our circle and empathize with the pain and suffering of others. It shows how we are connected by simply being human. It also magnifies the losses we have experienced firsthand- those we personally knew and loved who died- and makes us painstakingly aware of our own mortality and the mortality of those in our circle.
Grief is a confusing and complicated process that we feel for a lifetime. When we are processing the death of someone with whom we didn't have a personal relationship, it's easier for us to take on the grief of those who did- the family, the friends, the announcers and journalists, the coaches, our favorite players we see crying on the bench as they play through their pain. That much sadness and hurt are overwhelming. The purpose of this post is to remind you that, even though you may feel like it, you are not alone. Everyone you see is grieving something or someone. You have a right to grieve Kobe Bryant whether he was in your circle or not. You have a right to grieve Kobe Bryant whether you were a basketball fan or not. You have a right to grieve simply because another human being has died and the world now has one less connection.
Rest in peace, Mamba.