Mourning the loss of a celebrity is okay

After the loss of Kobe Bryant, the public’s grief should be respected


By Tatum Elliott

The tragic death of NBA star Kobe Bryant brought the messy issue of celebrity deaths into the spotlight.

Tatum Elliott, JagWire editor-in-chief

Sunday, Jan 26 was a lot of things: it marked the NFL’s 2020 Pro Bowl and the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, but one piece of news that pervaded these widely anticipated events was the death of renowned NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant. 

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, were found dead at a helicopter crash site in Calabasas, Calif. According to on-site officials, a total of nine people were aboard the helicopter when it crashed. 

Though Bryant is no longer with this world, making the most of his 41 years, his legacy lives on in the hearts of many. Among many who knew Bryant personally was former Los Angeles Lakers teammate, Shaquille O’Neal, who shared his reaction to Bryant’s death on social media. 

Clearly, the impact Bryant had on those closest to him, teammates, friends, family, was immense, but what also followed the news of Bryant’s passing was masses of fans, players and public figures sharing how much the basketball star meant to them. 

A new generation of athletes shared their respect for Bryant, including Atlanta Hawks player Trae Young. Fans across the country recalled the joy Bryant brought them while watching him from the stands and the sadness they felt knowing he’d passed away. 

Unfortunately, when celebrities pass away, it seems there’s always a group of people ready to ask the public why they care so much about a stranger. It’s an interesting question, for a psychology classroom. In the moments following a loss, it is insensitive and inappropriate. 

Out of respect to the person whose life was lost, and respect to those who feel that loss, let people express how they are feeling without harassment and judgment. 

All of the many responses to Bryant’s death are valid. People are allowed to express their feelings when someone they’ve looked up to is tragically, and suddenly, lost. Though the pain felt by Bryant’s wife, family and closest friends must be immeasurable, it does not discredit anyone else’s emotions. 

When celebrities die, it reminds everyone that death is indiscriminate, and the time each person has is finite. It is natural to feel emotional when messages like these are brought to the forefront, and it is okay to feel sad knowing a person you’ve admired has passed away. 

The most important thing to keep in mind in the wake of a celebrity death is that there is no right way to feel; there is no right way to react. If you feel sad, let yourself be sad. If you weren’t impacted by a celebrity’s death, don’t beat yourself up over it. 

Life is too short to be overly critical of your, or other people’s, emotions.

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