For weeks now, social media has been saying, “Enough already! 2016 has taken too many lives! The movie and music stars we loved are all dying!”
Two things come to my mind.
Number One – They may have changed your life, but did they really change your life?
Has their death/absence going to significantly impact your every day life? Probably not. Not unless you knew them personally. Tell me your story!
Number Two – They lived life long enough to be well-known.
When I looked at a lengthy list of all the “celebrity”, high profile deaths of 2016, I saw a lot of the deceased were in their 80s and 90s. Many of them lived a long, somewhat successful life – otherwise, why would their names be everywhere you look?!
These people lived their dreams. They are well known. They accomplished much.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that their goal was to “make it” in their chosen industry. Clearly, if you knew their name, they achieved their goal.
Whether or not they actually achieved true happiness is not for me to judge…
That being said, 2016 has been a year of tragedy.
There were two funerals of significance that I went to this year. This people didn’t have fame or fortune. They never “made it” in their chosen careers. I bet that most of you who don’t know me won’t even know their names.
But I want to tell you their stories.
…was a devoted father and husband. He was in his early thirties when he was first diagnosed with oral cancer. He underwent numerous surgeries as well as radiation and chemo in an attempt to lengthen his life. In the end, he died a very slow, painful death. Those of you who have seen someone die from cancer know exactly what I’m talking about.
I can imagine that a cancer death is excruciating to go through. I know first hand that, as a surviving family member of a cancer victim, it’s excruciating to watch.
And to be the young child, the young wife, or the parent of this adult child, must be absolutely heart-breaking.
Do I see these people blowing up social media with the words, “2016 has been so cruel! It took Princess Leia!” No. These people may not be saying it, so I will.
Let Carrie Fisher be. It’s okay that Leonard Cohen is gone. Florence Henderson may have been an amazing mother to some, but she was a solid 82 years old. And in all honestly, if my daughter died at the age of 60, I wouldn’t mind if I was dead the following day. Surviving the loss of a child is an unimaginable pain that I hope to never know.
Back to Rob, before Hollywood takes over the brief spotlight I’m giving him.
My husband and I knew Rob from church and from working with him at Youth for Christ. Rob made a huge difference in the lives of teenage boys. Through football, through his work at YFC, through his involvement at church, and in his job at a high school one of my son’s now attends. He may not have been famous to you, but to his wife and son Isaac, he was the most important person in their lives.
Was he gone too soon? That’s not really my place to say, but since this is my platform, I’d say yes. I spent hours praying that he would be healed. Not so much for his sake as for the sake of his family who was left behind to attempt to live a normal life without him. The new, unasked-for, normal life.
Grieving is a part of life, and when you hold up a celebrity death and yell, “This is not fair!”, are you saying that the lives of these lesser known, much younger, still highly loved and valued people is not as significant?
I know you’re not, but hear me out.
Ginger Dusk Koslowsky
Ginger was a young mom whom I had known for about four years. Her oldest child was the same age as my youngest and they went to school together. She had cancer three times, and the third time, it was the chemotherapy treatments that caused her body to shut down.
It was a slow, painful death. Excruciating for her to endure, and dare I say, twice as excruciating as it was for her husband, three young children, her parents and sibilings, and all her dearest friends to watch.
Her youngest child will have at best only have a faint memory of his mother. Her oldest child is a darling but she has been left treading water in the wake of her mother’s early departure when she was only seven years old. Her middle child is a delightful handful that makes me smile every time I see him, but I can imagine the struggles the young husband who has been left in charge of these beautiful children faces every single day.
For Those Who Are Grieving, Please Grieve Thoughtfully
When I think about the surviving family members of Rob and Ginger, I can acutely imagine their pain, especially now during the holiday season. Another round of firsts as they wade through the first Christmas without their husband/wife/father/mother/sister/brother/daughter/son. I hope to heavens they are not on social media seeing masses of people complaining that George Michael, Alan Thicke, and Prince are no longer with us.
Yes, it IS sad that these people have died. I’m sure their families are in just as much pain as Rob and Ginger’s families are.
But let them grieve in their own way. Your expressions of disgust and lament will not change what has happened. It may not even ease their suffering. I dare say it won’t, but I could be wrong.
Before you post about a celebrity death, consider other people who you know IRL who have suffered loss this past year. The personal loss of a loved one or ones whom they loved dearly. And not even a death, but other tragedies that have turned their lives upside down. I think of a young woman who had a stroke during the birth of her first child who may never be the same again.
So, if you so desire, go write your own blog piece on how your world was changed by your favourite deceased celebrity. I would honestly love to read that a million times more than if you just stated, “Are you done, 2016? Not another!”