It always hits me really hard when a celebrity dies. I know, that seems silly and vapid and ridiculous, but it is true. You would think that at this point, death wouldn’t affect me very much at all – that given the amount of dead people and sad situations that I have been exposed to in my actual life on a daily basis, I would not feel this way – but I always do.
I can’t really say why it gets to me the way that it does. Of course, if I’m a big fan of the deceased (such as when Michael Jackson and Cory Monteith passed), I feel that profound sense of loss and despair that is a natural part of grief … but I tend to feel affected even if I was only a casual fan, or not even a fan at all. Maybe it’s the funeral director in me – because behind every stilled body is someone hurting, and I always think about that – the ones who are left behind. Maybe it has something to do with how loud their deaths are, how visceral. We have the outpouring of emotion and love from fans, the celebrity reactions, the career retrospectives, the dissections of final months, weeks, and days – it’s stunning, both disgusting and beautiful. It’s overwhelming.
Then there’s the selfishness of it. Until yesterday, I had never lived a day of my life that David Bowie wasn’t a part of – and I don’t mean that as a way to say that I have been a rabid Bowie fan since birth. I mean that he’s always been there, a wonderful and comforting piece of furniture in the annals of my pop-culture and music loving mind, a legend before I was even called into existence. And now we as a world have to come together in entering the post-Bowie part of our lives, and that feels weird and scary and sad. We (or at least I) always seem to take for granted that these people we adore and admire won’t go away someday, but they do, and life goes sadly on. Different, somehow. Lacking.
So for now, it is time to say goodbye to another legend, to another brave soul who bared and shared their heart and mind and reinvented themselves time and time again for the sake of creation – who changed the music world so profoundly that nearly half (if not more) of today’s artists owe him a thank you for boldly paving the way. We will miss you, David Bowie. “Turn and face the strange”