I never mourned the death of a celebrity. That is, I never mourned the death of a celebrity until one that I could identify with passed suddenly without warning.
On this blog, I posted how the death of Tom Petty shook me, and how it marked the passing of an era in my life.
I was never a fan of Kobe Bryant. I never followed his career, nor was I ever inspired by his actions on or off the court. I’m not being critical, I had just left the NBA. For me, pro-basketball died with the retirements of David Robinson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and the breakup of the Chicago Bulls.
Yet, I know that others could see themselves in Kobe the same way I saw myself in Petty. It’s that level of identification that sells tickets, merchandise, and music.
When news broke that Kobe Bryant had been killed in a helicopter crash along with his 13 year old daughter Gianna, with whom he shared his love of basketball, I saw a tragic tale of the death of a loving parent and his beloved child. There’s a lot to be said for that. I saw an inspirational storyline.
Yet, I understand that others have a deeper affinity for Kobe and his family. And to them, his sudden death stings like Petty’s death stung for me. It’s the loss of a role model, an inspiration, the passing of an era and the death of a special one.
And there is legit grief attached to that.
So, if you’re mourning the death of Kobe, you’re okay. Mourn, but do so healthily.
If you’re not mourning Kobe, good. Do the rest a favor. Don’t shame those who do on social media, or in person either.
Yes, there were 7 other people on that helicopter, and their lives were important. On the same day, we lost soldiers in combat, first responders in the line of duty, and hundreds died of cancer.
All those lives were important. However, we cannot expect people to mourn those they do not know, or expect people not to mourn those they did know for the sake of those who did not.
Grief is personal, and at times, people have a moment. Let them have that moment. Let them grieve. Let them reflect. Let them heal and learn, and let them move on.
It’s a Biblical concept that has been colloquialized in the phrase, “mind your own business.” We are all learning and growing.