Opinion

Why it's absolutely ok to grieve for someone you've never met

The death of David Gest has affected so many of us - and now Closer's Kayleigh Dray has revealed why we should NEVER judge someone for mourning a celebrity

It was reported earlier today that David Gest had tragically been found dead in a five star London hotel.

He was just 62-years-old.

A statement released by officials at the Metropolitan Police reads: "Police were called at 10:17hrs on Tuesday 12 April to the Four Seasons hotel, in Westferry Circus, E14, to reports of an unexplained death of a man in his 60s. London Ambulance Service were called to the scene. Life was pronounced extinct at the hotel.

"A post-mortem will be held in due course. Next of kin are in the process of being informed."

Naturally, the reactions on social media were of grief, dismay, and messages of support for David's friends and his family.

And it comes as no surprise that so many people have been affected by his passing.

When a celebrity passes away, our Facebook newsfeeds always tend to be flooded with people reacting to the sad news.

There will be those who are rushing to report it first, those who are truly shocked by the tragedy, and - most importantly - those who are truly heartbroken over the loss.

But, for every few genuine outpourings of grief, there will be one message slamming the public for feeling this way.

"Sick of seeing messages about [INSERT CELEBRITY NAME HERE] on my wall. Yeah, it's sad they're dead but get over it - you didn't actually know them."

It's true; we didn't know Robin Williams, or Corey Monteith, or Michael Jackson, or Anne Kirkbride, or David Gest.

But it is unfair to accuse people of making a stranger's death all about them - because it goes much deeper than that for most.

For dedicated fans, these celebrities have been a big part of their lives. We've seen them on TV, we've sung along to their music, we've read their books - and, as a result, they - in a way - have become an integral part of our personal lives.

After all, don't many of us turn to certain films, songs, or TV shows when we're feeling low? I know that I, when I'm having a bad day, love nothing more than sitting down on the sofa and watching Friends - and I know I feel as if I'm right there with Monica, Joey, Chandler, Phoebe, Rachel, and Ross.

I imagine it was the same for many Coronation Street fans; the show is one of the longest-running soaps of all time, and many have grown up watching it.

Stock image

Many people will have felt as if they have sat down to dinner with Deirdre Barlow most evenings - and the feeling of comfort and nostalgia that must have given them is almost indescribable.

Which is why, when Anne Kirkbride, so many of us were left feeling as if we had lost someone we knew and loved.

So, in a way, it's often celebrities who are there for us in our darkest moments - offering us some small comfort when we need it, putting a smile on our faces, and becoming - in the process - part of us.

Now we have lost David Gest - and he was, to many of us, just as much of an institution as Anne, thanks to his appearances on I'm A Celeb and Celebrity Big Brother. We felt as if we knew him, as if we truly knew him, despite having never met him.

Alan Hilfer, chief of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York, agrees that it is perfectly normal to be saddened by the passing of a celeb we love and admire.

And he also added that, for some of us, a celebrity death allows us to grieve for someone we are actually close to - and, perhaps, haven't allowed ourselves to mourn yet.

He explained: "If people have had a family death, they feel a more intense reaction at the death of a celebrity."

Anne Kirkbride

If you can't understand why some of the people on your Facebook are mourning David Gest, remember that, to them, he may have played an important part of their lives for years.

People grow up with certain figures in thier lives, and that change when they pass can be a frightening thing, and remember that losing someone who's been a consistent factor in your life is a staunch reminder of your own mortality.

And, while you're remembering all of that, try to imagine how you would feel if someone you truly admired passed away.

It might just make you rethink posting a status that mocks them for grieving someone 'they've never met'.

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Closer magazine cover