I felt compelled to write this article after discovering that an incredibly talented 20-year-old actor passed away due to health complications over the weekend.
My kids' and I spent years watching this beloved actor on the small and big screen. The laughs we shared as a family was partly because of him. We even had our favorite characters he played and couldn't wait to see his next movie, which is set to be out in August.
As a parent, once you hear about one of your kid's favorite actors unexpected death, you can't help from wondering how your kids will react to the recent turn of events.
I can still remember how I took the news of one of my favorite musicians passing away when I was younger. I was completely devastated. I couldn't fully comprehend how or why someone with so much to offer the world could be dead. None of it made any sense. All I wanted to do was bawl my eyes out. And I did.
I wondered if it was normal to feel sad and upset. None of my friends were showing their emotions in the way I was. They didn't seem to be overly bothered by the fact this star was gone. Was I just too sensitive and overacting over someone I never even met?
My mom assured me that what I was going through was perfectly fine. It was nothing to be ashamed over. People should grieve over the loss of someone they admired through their music or acting abilities.
It was that conversation with my mom that prepared me to have various open discussions with my kids about not being embarrassed to mourn the loss of someone famous.
The way I approached the conversation with my children varied on their ages and understanding of what they already learned from social media. Each one of my kids already understood what death meant and how it would affect those around them. When a highly influential figure dies, chances are the only contact your child ever had with that person was through music, tv, or the movie theater screen.
In your kid's eyes, a loss is still a loss.
Maybe your child was inspired by this person and wanted to take acting or music lessons because of them. Perhaps your tween was faced with a complicated obstacle, and after watching the way a star from their favorite show handled the situation, they successfully overcame their own struggles. Regardless of how that celebrity left their mark on your son or daughter, it's important to acknowledge the news of this person's death. Be the supportive parent and try to help in the best way you possibly can.
What I've learned is most helpful is for everyone to mourn as a family. If you're anything like me, you've spent countless minutes and hours tuning into your child's or tweens favorite show, movie or listened to a song on repeat a million times over. It just seems fitting to watch or listen together as a way to remember how that famous person touched so many lives. This also allows for quality bonding time and a way to discuss whatever dwindling questions may be floating around your son's or daughter's head.
Another effective coping mechanism I've used with my children was sharing what I went through after hearing the news of my favorite celebrity's death. Reliving that moment with my kids was my way of showing them that I get what they are going through. My perspective gave them great comfort and assured them no matter what unfortunate turn of events happens; I'm always here to lend an ear and console them to the best of my abilities.
One last thing. Hugs go a long way in the healing process. Give those kiddos of yours as many as possible. It may be the only thing soothing their emotional distress and gets them to smile while they are still processing the loss of someone that once brought joy into their lives.