Archive for August 12, 2014

grieving-e1338346383681Do we really mourn the deaths of people we never knew personally, or do we feel obligated to hop onto the grief bandwagon and toss our meaningless condolences out into the world, just because we have the technology to do so?

I am always amazed by the rapid media response of the latest celebrity’s, athlete’s, etc., sudden death. Within minutes people turn to their social media sites and begin posting their thoughts, feelings, opinions as if they were that celebrity’s personal, close friend and confidante. “He influenced me in so many ways my life will never be the same again, RIP, Mr. Celebrity, I will always love you!” Honestly, I don’t believe celebrities can be that influential in people’s lives, I know they haven’t been in mine –unless I used them as a teaching tool for how not to behave in the public’s eye.

I am sorry, but I just cannot get onto this bandwagon. Sure, I am sad the world has lost a great actor, entertainer and comedian. I am also very sad he felt he had no other option available to him, or that nobody was able to help him battle against his demons. Suicide is never a selfless act – his family members and close friends are no doubt devastated and desperate to know “What could I have done to help him? What were the warning signs?” But my sadness and public outpouring of grief over someone I never knew personally and have no familial connection to, ends there.

Perhaps I am still too busy trying to deal with my own grief. I lost my father one year ago this month. I lost my mom this past January. I lost my brother in June. Three deaths in less than one year, and each one holds its own share of grief I am still trying to process and overcome.

When my brother died, the Facebook postings of RIP, Marty, started streaming in immediately, from strangers around the world, who had never even met the man in person – they had only seen his beautiful photography and read his journals on line.They never spent time with him and got to grow up with him and play such games as “Dress the Cat in Silly Clothes” and “Let’s build a snow fort in the backyard!”. Real brother and sister moments that will never be forgotten.

While our family appreciated the outpouring of respect, we were outraged by how it was done because this was also how his daughter found out he had died. That’s when I decided Facebook and Twitter are not appropriate places for death announcements.

I learned a lot from my family members’ passings – that we all grieve individually, personally, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. But, I also learned that grief — real, authentic, grief — comes from the loss of those closest to us, not from the passing of someone we only knew through films, or television, or sports, etc. 

We should leave the real, authentic grief to the ones who deserve (experience) it and keep our promises not to invade their privacy at such a terrible time, especially when they request it. That really is the most compassionate response we should be offering them. 

Trust me, I know.