How Personal Grief Unites Us During a Public Tragedy

The helicopter crash that resulted in the untimely deaths of nine people was absolutely devastating news that shocked everyone this past Sunday. It’s heartbreaking whenever a public figure passes away, especially so suddenly. Touching tributes pour in from fans, celebrities, talk show hosts and the like as everyone feels the weight of the tragedy even if they didn’t know the person personally.

One uplifting thing about grief, as difficult as it is to go through, is that it unifies us. Fans come together to pay their respects with public memorials. People share personal stories about what the deceased meant to them and how to carry on their legacy. Everyone experiences and handles grief differently, and yet, in certain ways, we do also experience it similarly. There are, after all, the five universal stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

The initial shock and denial always hits hard when horrific news like this breaks. Of course, with instantaneous news at our fingertips, misinformation can spread easily. News outlets are all vying to be the first to break stories, but doing so comes at the risk of not having all the information right away, leading to misreporting and the subsequent need to wait until accurate information is confirmed.

Still, with any unexpected death comes the chilling reminder of how fragile and unpredictable life is and how it can be gone in a second. During times like this, it’s as important as ever to remember to not take life for granted, to cherish the ones you love and to live life to the fullest. Obviously, none of those statements are new, but once we lose someone all that’s left are the memories we have of them. Even though, as the cliché saying goes, time heals all wounds, grief never completely goes away. The pain lessens, sure, but we simply learn to move forward and live with our grief, hopefully by allowing happy memories of departed loved ones to warm our hearts and bring a smile to our face.

To that point, while the mourning of a public figure reverberates around the world, nothing can compare to the insurmountable anguish of the victims’ family members and close friends. It’s during these painful times that people come together to send their support and love to those coping with such a terrible loss.

Grief makes us vulnerable, connecting us in a way we wouldn’t otherwise expect, with our emotions raw and at the surface that we can’t control but can be cathartic to release. Grieving is part of healing, of letting yourself feel and remember and cry and laugh and miss and love. While it’s true that everyone expresses grief differently, at the heart of it all, it’s the same in that it brings us together and makes us more human.


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