How Celebrities Grieve Their Friends
Aug 26, 2014 by Victoria Noe, in Celebrity deaths , Friend Grief , Friendship , Grief , public grief , Robin Williams
Yes, I know I wasn't going to write about celebrities. But doesn’t it seem like a lot of them have died in the past month or so? James Garner, Sir Richard Attenborough, Lauren Bacall, Robin Williams, Elaine Stritch: all left grieving families and friends, just like non-celebrities – with one glaring difference.
Celebrities leave friends behind who are anonymous and others who are also celebrities. And while those live their lives in the glare of the media, that doesn’t mean that they’re capable of grieving gracefully in public. You may be surprised or even critical of them.
Remember Paul McCartney? He was roundly criticized for his “It’s a drag” comment the day after John Lennon was murdered.
People who hadn’t worked with Robin Williams in decades appeared on talk shows within hours to reminisce about days gone by. Here in Chicago, the local news stations tracked down his elementary school classmates. That’s not unusual. Watch the reports next time a celebrity dies, and see who the first people are to show up on camera.
Often, a celebrity will not appear in public after a friend’s death, instead issuing a very carefully worded press release or tweet.
Sometimes - but rarely – a celebrity speaks eloquently soon after a friend’s death. Russell Brand’s tribute to Amy Winehouse comes to mind, the pain of his loss beautifully exposed for all to see.
Why rarely? Because, as we sometimes forget, celebrities are people, too. They experience the same emotions, same life events. The glaring difference is that they grieve in public, not always by choice.
It seems that those closest to the deceased are often the last to speak in public. They prefer to grieve in private, which is everyone’s right. And I’m usually relieved that that is the case. Too often celebrities – and non-celebrities alike – try to make a tragedy about them. They see a chance to get some attention, at the expense of their friend’s memory. I don’t know about you, but that’s not my kind of friend.
So I’ll leave you with another one of those rare, poignant eulogies. It’s Billy Crystal’s remembrance at the Emmys. It’s a simple and loving tribute to a friend, devoid of the narcissism displayed by others.
What a concept.