Grieving Our Lost Icons

2016 has been a bad year for legendary musicians. We’re not even half way through the year, and we have already lost such legends as David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Glenn Frey, Maurice White, Natalie Cole and most recently, Prince. Obviously, most of us do not know these people personally, so why then do we seem to mourn them as if we did?
To this day Elvis fans gather at Graceland each year and light candles on the anniversary of his death more than 38 years ago. I vividly remember my own mother sitting in the floor sobbing upon learning that John Lennon had been shot (she still has his photo hanging on her wall), and I too have been affected this year with the death of two of my favorite music icons, David Bowie and Prince.
So why is it that we mourn these people whom we’ve never met? I have seen much discussion about this recently, and I think the general consensus is that it is less about the actual person, but more about their music and how it made us feel.  The memories that were made to particular songs, the lyrics that resonated with us as if they knew exactly what we were thinking and feeling, the way the music instantly transports us back to another place and time…these things draw us in to these artists establishing a sense of kinship. A tweet that went viral after the death of David Bowie regarding grieving the deaths of artists we’ve never met sums it up best, “we don’t cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.”
Additionally, we look back on these artist’s careers in amazement. We think, “Wow, if it weren’t for this one there would be no…fill-in-the-blank”. Many of the artists who have recently passed were iconic innovators and pioneers in their fields, so chances are there will never be another like them. Though their music will always be here for us to enjoy, it almost seems like some of it died with them, and our music world will never be quite the same.
Not everyone feels this way, though. Many are totally unaffected by the news of a legendary artist’s death. For those of us who do take it to heart; however, do not be ashamed, there’s nothing wrong with mourning the loss of someone you admire…it’s only human. Obviously, the loss we feel does not compare with that of the artist’s family members and close friends, but it is still a loss nonetheless. So if you want to crank up the music, sing at the top of your lungs, cry—or laugh and cry at the same time, that’s perfectly okay, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Maya Angelou, another legend who has passed on, once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The artists we love have all made us feel wonderful at one time or another, so why not honor them with our fond memories, respect, and maybe even a few tears?
Christi Wickliffe-Bessinger
Advertising & Marketing Manager
Garden City Realty, Inc.

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