2/2/2021: Losses Of Young Public Figures Shake Us To Our Core

If you grew up or lived thru the 90’s, you likely remember “Screech” from Saved By The Bell, played by Dustin Diamond. Yesterday we learned the tragic news that he’d passed, at only age 44.
The roster of child actors/actresses we’ve lost way too soon…is way too long. Before there was social media, we “got to know” our celebs thru the characters they played on sitcom TV shows & their movies we later watched at home on TV/VHS/DVD/OnDemand. 
Off the top of my head, we’ve lost: 
River Phoenix, Chris from Stand by Me…Dana Plato & Gary Coleman, Kimberly & Arnold from Diff’rent Strokes…Michelle Thomas, Justine (Theo’s girlfriend) from The Cosby Show…Paul Walker, Brian from The Fast & The Furious…Corey Haim, Lucas from Lucas…Lee Thomas Young, Jett from Jett Jackson…Brittany Murphy, Tai from Clueless. 
That’s not the whole list & you might remember some of those celebs better from other roles. It’s just how I remember ‘em. 
And if you’re like me, bc these actors played kids/young adults, you feel like you got to know them as they grew up – their personalities, their quirks, their idiosyncrasies. And you didn’t want to hear in “real life,” they were any different.
When the celebs are a little “older” (like Larry King or Hank Aaron), we tend to justify it – old age/disease got to them. But when it’s someone still in the prime of their life, it guts us. Why?
1) I believe it’s bc it makes us face our own mortality, the possibility of loss & the fragility of life, head on. 2) I think we actually feel TRAUMA from losing someone we “knew.” Every one of those characters played in the list above – we see a little of them in either ourselves, or someone we know in our lives: the annoying little brother, the innocent sister, the HS nerd/jock. 
Trauma is unique to each of us, & it’s OK if news like this rocks you. It’s a loss of someone you knew…more than just a character…& the pain is justified. It’s more reason why MH is a topic for ALL of us. It’s not “crazy” to mourn someone you may’ve never met in person…bc actually, you knew them VERY well.

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