Don’t Let Anyone Tell You You’re Not Allowed to Be Upset Over a Celebrity’s Death

(via Lucasfilm)

2016 has been a hard year for so many reasons, not the least of which is the number of stars we lost, which seems exceptionally high. It’s been a hard week in a hard month in a hard year when it comes to losing artists who moved us. If you’re grieving, no one should judge you for that.

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So why do they?

Whenever a celebrity passes away, people mourn. And like clockwork, others come in to judge that mourning. Conversations and social media feeds get clogged with the cries of “stop being upset” and “but you didn’t even know them!” To which I want to finally say, loudly,


Of course you can be affected by the death of someone you didn’t know personally! There are a ton of reasons why you might be upset over a celebrity’s death. Whether you’ve ever met the person or not, you’re allowed to be upset if you lost someone whose work meant something to you.


Or who changed or helped shape your world view, or your sense of self.

Or if they really did change the world.

You can mourn because we lost someone whose art you connected with—

But you can also mourn because of what they stood for. We lost a lot of people this year who represented a refusal to conform. Who made it cool to embrace our oddities.

Whether or not they were your favorite musicians/actors/writers/anything, you’re allowed to feel all those feelings.

You’re allowed to be upset if you grew up with this person’s presence in your life, even if it wasn’t face to face.


You’re allowed to be upset simply because death is upsetting, and when it involves celebrities, death becomes part of the public conversation. And it doesn’t help when so many deaths all seem to come at once.

The loss, both personal and in a general heightened sense of mortality kind of way, can feel overwhelming.

anton yelchin star trek

But when the artist helped shape your view of the world or your view of yourself, it’s not easy to see them go. You’re allowed to hurt, a little or a lot.



It doesn’t help that when a public figure who meant something to you passes, they leave behind others who mean something to you, and their pain is public.

You can even be upset to see the world hurting. It’s a powerful feeling to know that there are people out there who garner this kind of outpouring of love and grief. I’m glad to live in a world where those kinds of people exist.

So no matter why you’re feeling what you’re feeling, don’t listen to anyone who says you’re not allowed to feel it.

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.