How to look after yourself when a public figure dies

How to look after yourself when a public figure dies

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Although you may never have met the Queen, her death may have a big impact on you. Whether you liked them or not, the death of a public figure can bring up strong feelings and you might start to feel overwhelmed. Especially if every time you switch on the TV, log on to social media or see your friends, that’s all anyone is talking about. Here is how to look after yourself when a public figure dies.

Why am I grieving for a public figure I never met?

You might be confused, and maybe a little embarrassed, about being so upset about the death of a public figure you’ve never even met, but there are lots of ways it might affect you. You can connect with a famous person without knowing or meeting them. Maybe you grew up watching, listening or following them, so their death can feel like a big loss.

This might be your first experience of someone dying and it can feel overwhelming and uncertain.
If you have been bereaved, then the death of a public figure can bring up your grief in a very intense way. Hearing everyone talk about their death and seeing reactions from their family, friends and fans might remind you of when your important person died and trigger those difficult feelings again.

Public figures are connected to significant moments in our own lives. Maybe you and your dad used to always listen to that singer, or you and your sister used to follow that influencer, or you and your nan used to watch royal occasions together. The death of that celebrity can remind you of those special moments and reignite your grief.

How to look after yourself

Talk to someone

Bottling up all your feelings usually makes them worse. Find someone you can talk to, whether that’s a friend, family member, teacher or professional. We have a team of trained bereavement practitioners you can speak to by phone or email – call 08088 020 021 or email ask@winstonswish.org

Put your phone down

Are you starting to feel overwhelmed by all the news alerts, tributes and other people’s reactions? Struggling to focus on school, work, family or friends? Constantly being reminded of someone’s death can be overwhelming, whether you liked them or not. So, log off social media, put down your phone and switch off from all the coverage for a while.


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What are your usual coping mechanisms?

What has helped you before when you have been grieving? Do you find that exercise takes your mind off things? Or listening to music provides an escape? Or writing or drawing helps you let your feelings out? Take some time out and do whatever works for you.

Practise self-care

Make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthily and do some exercise. These can all help you stay well, keep your energy levels up and help you feel able to cope.

Find a way to say goodbye and remember them

Just because you never met that public figure, it doesn’t mean you can’t mark their death in some way. Finding a way to say goodbye or pay tribute to them can help you process your grief. Although you probably won’t be able to attend the celebrity’s funeral or memorial service, there are other ways to say goodbye. 

If the service is televised, you could watch or listen to it, or there might be a public memorial that you could attend. There might be a tribute page or fan group where you could share your memories and connect with others who know how you feel. The family of the famous person might give instructions on how to honour that person – for example donate to a charity, send flowers or post on an online tribute page.

How do you remember your important person who has died? Do you write letters to them, visit a special place, listen to their favourite band or watch videos/look at photos of them? There’s no reason why you can’t do those things for a public figure too.

Get support

If you are a bereaved young person (aged 0-25) who is struggling with their grief, please call our Freephone Helpline team on 08088 020 021 or email ask@winstonswish.org. We can provide advice, support and resources.

If you need urgent support, the Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger is available 24/7 for free, confidential support in a crisis. Text WW to 85258.