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Mourning celebrity: Is it the person or the persona we miss?

Well, that was a pretty shitty week. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and if you want to go back all the way to the last days of 2015, Lemmy Kilmister. These artists were all incredibly important to so many people, and now they’ve sadly passed away.

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By Glen Ess (The Cascade) – Email

Well, that was a pretty shitty week. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and if you want to go back all the way to the last days of 2015, Lemmy Kilmister. These artists were all incredibly important to so many people, and now they’ve sadly passed away. How does one go about dealing with the demise of their idols, their heroes? It’s a tough one to answer. For example, right now, more than anything else, I want to just lie down and listen to all of David Bowie’s music (except maybe Blackstar — it’s too soon, man, too soon) while watching Alan Rickman’s movies: Die Hard, Sense and Sensibility, Galaxy Quest, and of course, the entirety of the Harry Potter series. I want to lie down and immerse myself in the works of these two giants of their respective media; to drown my sorrows by drowning myself in their collected works.

Of course I can’t do that. I’ve got a life to lead, school and work to focus on. I doubt anyone has the time to sit and marvel at the journey of their idol through time.

But then, what can you do?

It’s a question I’ve been pondering a lot as I catch Bowie songs here and there, and snippets from Rickman films and plays every now and then. Whenever I do, I wonder if maybe trying to somehow mourn their loss with a large, more comprehensive review of their works is a little much. What if I’m letting their deaths hit me a little too hard? After all, it’s not like I had the fortune to ever meet them, or to speak to them. I never had a personal relationship with either man. And yet, they influenced my childhood to an incredible degree. But all I could see was those professional highs and lows, not any of the personal battles they had to fight. I saw the great musician, the fantastic actor; I saw my idols, but I saw them as they wanted me to see them — not them, personally.

Perhaps when mourning a famous and influential person we should remember that, for all the impact they’ve had on us, we never really knew them, and we should respect the gap and differences between their professional, public persona and the person they probably were in private, with their loved ones — the people who actually knew them.

And so I put it to you, that I’ll be mourning the loss of the musician who gave us The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Diamond Dogs. I’ll be grieving over the actor who was Snape. But I’ll let their respective friends and family grieve for David Jones and Alan Rickman.

I just hope this spate of 69-year-old British celebrities passing doesn’t continue. I swear, if anything happens to Tim Curry…

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