of a Star
by Jérôme Daoust. 2005/4/26-c.
Range of emotions. When a person dies, it stirs up many emotions, combining some of these:
· You are almost looking for a fight. Energy has to be released.
· You want to place blame.
· You want to glorify the deceased.
· You feel the right to tell others how to behave.
Celebrity. The above gets complicated when the deceased was a public person, which achieved some level of fame. It would be convenient if a public-to-private switch could be toggled for the relatives, who are usually not so concerned with the mechanism of death, but need to grieve the loss of life, which once was. But totally blocking information or preventing discussions would be disrespectful to others who feel that need. You can't have it both ways: A celebrity has a responsibility to his fans and this gets passed on to his legacy.
People grieve in different ways, and on different time scales. For some, just moving on may be the best option. What is best for one person can shock another. For example, who are we to tell a widow when she should start dating again?
Recognition of everyone's healing needs. There should be a balance between:
· Relatives. Relatives are on a quest to achieve closure. Most often, the last thing they want is to be disturbed with side issues (blame, investigation, press). We must listen to their needs and provide support. But we should not empower ourselves with what we think they need and act on their behalf without their consent.
· Fans. Having reached a "star" status, there can be a surprising fan base of people who lived vicariously thought the news of that person. Fans will need to grieve in their own way and deserve a right-to-know to some extent. Event analysis can help some of them. People are not one-dimensional. They can be interested in the events related to the death, while still feeling pain for the person's loss. A side benefit of the fan base, is that the family can find some comfort from fans, who step-up with past friendship or admiration testimonials.
· Close friends. They exhibit a blend of both of the above. They are the group which may be the most reactionary, as they are not as dulled by shock as the relatives and most quickly find offense at suspected insensitivity. They are most likely to embark on a missions (all with good intentions), giving a sense of purpose which helps their grieving process:
· Glorification. Feeling empowered to fulfill this mission, all disturbing viewpoints on the individual's character must be eliminated. The noble cause it to help the relatives (not necessarily with their consent). But let's get real. We are human (nobody is perfect). You can be intelligent and a high-level athlete, yet still do very stupid things on occasions, which may have resulted in death in this case. But what defines people, rarely corresponds to their death-inducing mistake.
· Hunting for insensitivity:
· Public discussion of the death and/or lifestyle. But who is to decide what is appropriate? Discussion can help people release their feelings, which will facilitate their grieving.
· Discussing the death mechanism. Fear this will shadow the rest of the person's life. The death most likely came from a mistake (error in judgment), but that does not define whom that person was. People know that, and we should not belittle those who feel a need to discuss the death mechanism, as it can help their healing process.
· Timing: Feeling that this is not the right time to talk about this. Since everyone affected by the death is on a different healing time schedule, there is no sense in saying that this is not the right time for talking about a specific aspect. Will those people return to say when it is the right time (equally condescending)? When would it ever be the right time, if you are trying to block the events in your own mind? It makes no sense that all should heal at the rate of the slowest healer.
Bottom line is to show respect for everyone's different healing process (time scale and method), and recognize how you can be affected by the event yourself, keeping your reactions in check. As for myself, taking the time to write these words helped clear my mind.