Are you grieving for Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds? Still saddened by the deaths of David Bowie and Prince? What about Garry Shandling or Harper Lee? It can seem odd to feel such a deep sense of loss for someone you never met, and yet it is normal to grieve for anyone who has touched your life.

I remember my own grief when newscaster Peter Jennings died. I not only welcomed him into my home every evening, but I trusted him to accurately report the news. His death felt strangely personal and I still miss his integrity and style.

Last year was a particularly difficult year for us. We said goodbye to more notable performers and cultural icons whose works influenced our lives. Not just movies, songs, and theatrical performances, but all forms of art and literature.

There has been an outpouring of personal, intimate stories of how a song or a movie shaped a childhood, adolescence, or specific periods in our life. Often there is music that is the soundtrack of a time or place; a song that instantly triggers a memory, a visual or sensual response that places you right back to that moment in time. Maybe it’s your first record or CD, the song you danced to at your wedding, the movie where you got your first kiss, the music in the background of your family home, or the current hits on the radio during that long road trip.

If a celebrity death made you feel as if you lost a beloved family member, you are not alone. It’s not foolish, it’s normal. Many of us are bereaved, mourning for someone or something that feels intimate and yet is an unknown.

Maybe it helps to put celebrity grief in perspective; we are grieving for our memories. We mourn periods of our life and past that are long gone and the wonderful people we shared it with. The songs and the movies and the artists that performed, they were behind the scenes. The reality played out in real time in our experience and the folks that shared it. Isn’t that what we are mourning? So, go ahead and freely grieve for what’s past and those individuals who no longer share our lives. Recognize and allow the sadness to pass so we can once again open our hearts to the present and those who currently grace our world.

Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available as e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store

Photo: jimivr star wars carrie fisher 18 via photopin

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