Yes, I mourn for David Bowie and Alan Rickman. I will not apologize.
As we mourn the loss of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, two artists who have had immense impacts on the lives of people throughout the world, a lot of positive memories arise. I have seen personal stories, quotes, interviews, and images celebrating the lives and artistry of these two men.
Unfortunately, there is bound to be negativity mixed into such an already sorrowful moment.
Ms. Josie Cunningham published a blog post degrading those who have been publicly expressing their grief over the loss of David Bowie:
While her statement may seem crass, I know she is not alone in her opinion. Many argue that grief is private, and any public expression of it is mere exploitation of a tragic situation.
That is simply not true.
With the rise of social media, we have become accustomed to expressing our opinions and emotions in a very public way. Grieving is about making death real and about finding a way to understand that a person is gone. We will never again hear a new song from David Bowie or a new movie from Alan Rickman. And if posting “RIP” or “We’ve lost a legend” on social media helps someone to register that fact and to feel connected to other people who are experiencing the same emotions, no one has the right to degrade them for it.
Personally, as a part of the generation Ms. Cunningham is specifying, I take offense to the claim that we could not have appreciated Bowie’s music. I have listened to his songs since I was fourteen. They impacted me as strongly then as they impacted my parents. Bowie’s music is as much a part of my life as any “current” artist, and I resent the implication that my personal connection with his music (and my grief at his passing) means less because of my birthdate.
Besides discounting the grief of an entire generation, Ms. Cunningham’s statement disregards the fact that Bowie’s music was transcendent of generational boundaries. And I believe that disrespects his memory more than any social media post.
At the Nonbinary Review, Ms. Allie Marini discusses Bowie’s legacy and the distinction between man and art. She addresses the “policing of other people’s grief,” such as that by Ms. Cunningham:
What I’m getting at here is that the grief people are feeling over the death of Alan Rickman and David Bowie is real.
I never met Alan Rickman, but I cried when Snape died. I rooted for Colonel Brandon.
Don’t tell me that’s not real.
These two men had the rare capability to touch people’s lives through their art. That is something we, as writers and as human beings, aspire to. Is it wrong to grieve for legends because I never stood in the same room with them? Because I never shook their hands? I cannot believe so. The fact that millions of people feel strongly enough to share their emotions and seek comfort in each other is proof of the talent, accomplishments, and legacies of these two men. And I will not apologize for grieving.
I hope one day I can impact a single person to the extent these legends have impacted me.
I know this is a sensitive topic, and mine is only one opinion. I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter and how you have handled your personal grief.
(Thanks to Matt Foster for pointing me toward the first article.)
Author & Editor