Since I am very involved in the widowed community I read all types of things across the internet. On Facebook in particular I’m friends with widows who have lost their spouses to “natural causes”, heart attacks, cancer, accidents, drugs and suicide (to name a few). Several years ago, when Michael Jackson died, I became very angry and jealous. It had been about two weeks after Michael’s death and I was pissed that his death continued to cloud my media stream. His death was everywhere.
I turned it back to me. Kevin never got that kind of exposure when he died. There was no national media attention. It was just an obituary in Lancaster, Pa and Winnipeg, Manitoba, and a blog posting. That was it. Why was Michael’s death so much more important than Kevin’s? When I questioned this out loud, one of Kevin’s friends from Winnipeg became upset. Michael had been a role model to him growing up as a young black man. He was very upset at Michael’s death and didn’t understand how, with my grief, I couldn’t relate. But at the time, I couldn’t. I was just angry.
When Whitney’s death occurred this past weekend, my thought process was completely different. People are hurting because she died. The fact that she died as a public figure means she gets the media attention, but it doesn’t mean her death was any more important than anyone else’s, especially those of our dying soldiers (as has been blasted all over my Facebook feed lately). Nor is her death more important than Kevin’s. But it is important to those that knew her, that once saw her as a role model when she was in her prime, that mourned as her life slid into a downward spiral. They mourn. They feel the pain of her loss.
No matter how someone dies, people are left behind to deal with this grief journey. It is not easy, and whether it garners media attention or not, it includes pain, anxiety, upset, destruction, anger, jealousy and so many more emotions. It is painful. Their grief is important as my own. Their loss is as significant as my own.
Whether or not you agree with the media attention that is drawn when a public figure dies, keep in mind that behind all of that is a family who has suffered a great loss in their lives. No matter what decisions the person did or did not play in their own death no longer matters. It complicates the grieving process, yes, but it doesn’t annul their family’s grief.
Be gentle. Love.
Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day wids. Love to you all.