Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

How to Heal When You Learn About The Loss of an Icon

Suggestions for coping with the loss of a celebrity who impacted your life.

In a time in which we are heavily influenced by the media, it is unsurprising that the loss of a celebrity would cause fans to grieve as though they lost someone known personally to them. Loss of an influential individual can be particularly difficult to process when sudden, such by suicide. The loss of icons such as Robin Williams, Avicii, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain shocked their loved ones and fans alike, and have also caused wave in the mental wellness movement.

Instagram @RobinWilliams
Source: Instagram @RobinWilliams

While complicated, death by suicide is technically preventable. The premature loss of someone who has influenced your life can be particularly difficult to come to terms with. Individuals who are currently working hard at fostering their mental wellness, especially those with are coping with suicidal ideation, may be particularly affected. The influence of celebrities on our lives cannot be doubted. When an icon is lost, the news can be triggering. Don’t be tempted to trivialize your response. When this happens, be sure to tend to your mental health. Here are a few tips to tend to your grief when you learn about the loss of a celebrity by suicide:

Acknowledge your feelings

Without ever personally knowing a celebrity, their influence on our lives cannot be discounted; learning of their loss can prompt deep and distracting reactions to our mental well-being. A wide-range of emotions may be elicited such as numbness, denial, humiliation, guilt, and the sadness, shock, anger, and confusion shared by the band. Don’t minimize your emotions. Caution telling yourself the person is just a celebrity. Loss is loss. Allow yourself to recognize the emotions you are experiencing and find healthy outlets to release. Some ideas include a personalized post, hosting a gathering, writing in a journal, praying, meditating, or counseling session.

Source: pixabay

Practice self-care

The wide range of emotions elicited by grief can be distracting and draining. Self-care is not just a trendy phrase, it is an essential practice to maintain mental wellness, particularly in times of grief. To protect your energy levels, listen to your needs by practicing self-care. Self-care is commonly associated with the stereotypical bubble bath, and that may be a valid need, but it is much more. As needs are unique, self-care varies per person. Ideally, you would familiarize yourself with your self-care strategies proactively to know how you can best cope as difficult times emerge. Self-care isn't always fun or enjoyable, as it also includes difficult self-reflection (e.g., acknowledging grief) in order to grow.

Honor their memory

While it can be difficult to evoke positive emotions when mourning, it can be healing to focus on honoring the life that was lived. Reflect on how the individual impacted your life, society, or perhaps even the world at large. Consider partaking in an activity that encapsulates the memory of the individual. For example, José Andrés and Eric Ripert, chefs and close friends of Anthony Bourdain, made a movement to honor the culinary expert's life on his birthday, June 25th, with comforts of food and community, parallel to the legacy he left behind.

Instagram @AnthonyBourdain
Source: Instagram @AnthonyBourdain

Seek support

When affected by grief, supportive people can play an essential role in your healing process. Sharing with others who relate can help to prompt feelings of understanding and validation. Hearing how others navigate their healing can help to inspire ways for your process as well. The loss of an influential individual may bring similar concerns that you are facing to the surface. If you notice that your mental health symptoms are exacerbating, it can be helpful to seek the help of a mental health professional.

Source: Pexels


When learning about loss by suicide, a healing factor could be to contribute to change by investing in suicide prevention efforts. You can learn more by attending a course, engaging in meetings, discussing with a mental health professional, or researching reputable online sources. For suggestions on how you can help be a force of change read How to Contribute to Suicide Prevention.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts please seek help.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat online.