Feeling grief when someone famous dies

When someone famous dies, the media can go a bit crazy over it. How you react is unique to you: it’s normal if it makes you feel really upset, and it’s normal if it doesn’t affect you at all. If you or anyone around you is feeling sad, there are things you can do to feel better.

This can help if:

  • you’re sad about the death of someone famous

  • people around you are upset about the death of someone in the public eye

  • you don’t like how a death is being reported in the media.

Girl reading a magazine

Reacting to a stranger’s death

It sounds clichéd, but there really isn’t a right or a wrong way to react to the death of someone that you don’t know personally. Many people experience grief when they hear about the death of a person who is well known but not known to them personally, such as a celebrity. And many others feel nothing. Everyone feels differently, and that’s fine.

You felt a connection

If you’re experiencing grief at the news of a stranger’s death, it’s probably because you feel some kind of connection to them. Whether they were your sporting hero, the TV dad you wish you’d had, or your secret heartthrob, you feel a sense of loss because they made you feel something, and now they’re gone.

You can’t relate to what others are feeling

If you feel no connection to the celebrity who’s passed away, you might feel bemused by the public outpouring of grief that’s piling up in your newsfeed. Without an emotional connection to someone, it can be hard to feel a loss when they’re gone. That’s normal and understandable; after all, your life probably won’t change in the slightest.

Why am I so sad about this?

Regardless of how well you know the person who’s gone, you know there are loved ones out there whose lives have just been flipped upside down. There are friends who never got to say that one last thing, and families who have an empty seat at their table. Also, you just lost any chance at letting this person know what they meant to you.

What can I do about it?

Accept that it’s real grief you’re feeling

You’re not being silly. Take a minute for yourself if you need to.

Check in with your mates

If you’re upset, chances are your friends are, too. Ask how they’re doing, and talk it over with them.

Turn off the news and social media

Sometimes seeing the never-ending stream of tributes can be overwhelming.

Write it down

Putting your thoughts on paper can help clarify how you’re feeling and make it easier to process.

Report offensive coverage There are pretty strict rules about reporting deaths in the media, especially around suicide or mental health issues. Check out Mindframe for more info, and contact the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) if you want to make a complaint.

It's been a while and I'm still sad

If your feelings of sadness don’t go away quickly, or you feel like they’re starting to interrupt your life, consider chatting to a professional about it. Getting through those feelings will be much easier and faster with a professional’s help. A GP is a good place to start. If you need to talk to someone right now, give Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or Lifeline (13 11 14) a call – they’re available 24/7.

What can I do now?

  • Check out some coping skills.

  • Get more info on loss and grief.