It’s never easy to cope with the intense and oftentimes conflicted feelings that hit you like a ton of Botox when a celebrity passes away. Psychologists from the Nathaniel Dubbles Institute have identified seven distinct stages of grief that most individuals experience when someone famous dies.
Confusion: When you first learn of the shocking news from a CNN mobile alert and hastily post “RIP Celebrity” on Facebook and tweet #GoneButNotForgotten, your mind will be flooded with questions. Who was that person, actually? Have I ever seen her in anything? Wait, she played in the one thing, right?
Denial: You’ll wonder why this is happening to you. Your morning was going so well — there you were, in line at your local artisan donut shop, about to enjoy a latte and a bacon-infused Bavarian cream goodie before zipping off to work on your sleek hoverboard — and now this? What’s become of this world, a place in which celebrities can so easily succumb to disease, mental illness and old age as if they were one of us? This must be a sick hoax or a dream. Yes, a bad dream. Wake up, dammit. Caffeinate yourself.
Remembrance: Standing outside the donut shop, you seek help from the almighty Google, and you learn who the celebrity was. Memories come flooding back as you mourn humanity’s great loss. Ah, yes, you remember. She played that goofy, mullet-wearing aunt in that mediocre 90s sitcom that you watched the summer before you got your braces off.
Nostalgia: Struggling to deal with the heartache, you return to the comfort of home. You watch hour upon hour of clips of the celebrity on YouTube, weeping, clutching your pillow, ignoring the wee voice in your head telling you that the show’s premise was utter crap and the acting was even worse. But you don’t care, because you were a younger, more innocent person then. Life was good and you didn’t yet have a police record or those six restraining orders. Responsibilities were few and snacks were abundant.
Depression: Night approaches, and with horror you realize that you’ve wasted the entire day in front your laptop, scouring the web for every last tribute to the deceased celebrity. And you’ve finished off a week’s worth of junk food. And you forgot to call in sick. You dread tomorrow. You must break out of this mindless web-surfing holding pattern and go to sleep — right now, you tell yourself, just as soon as you finish reading the transcript of an April 1988 interview the celebrity granted to Phil Donahue.
Anger: You wake in a panic up at 5 a.m., worried if you’ll be fired, asking yourself who is to blame for the disaster of your life. It’s the media’s fault for blowing this relatively minor death story way out of proportion, simply because it’s a slow news week. It’s your mother’s fault for working all the damn time and not supervising your TV viewing habits when you were a kid. It’s the stupid dead celebrity’s fault. Why did she have to die without warning everyone?
Acceptance: She’s dead. That’s sad, but that’s life.
Bonus stage for forgetful grievers
Recurrence: Months later, when you least expect it, you’ll be reading a tabloid magazine in the dentist’s office when you come across an article about all the B-listers we’ve lost this year, and there she’ll be, her face tucked between an indie film actor who overdosed on bath salts, and the guitarist from a 70s one-hit wonder who got creamed by a semi truck. And you’ll have forgotten all about there, and you’ll say, wait, she’s dead? That can’t be. Why didn’t anyone tell me?