22.4.16

Prince died and it's OK to be sad

When someone in the public eye dies reactions vary. There are outpourings of grief from all and sundry. Twitter is awash with tears and sadness. Celebrities explain why this death affects them, then ordinary people start to share their memories too. Some celebrities also pipe up with how the dead person wasn't all that and list reasons. Social media police begin to creep into the mix telling us how we are allowed to feel and reminding anyone that will listen that "you didn't know them" "a celebrity death is not worse than a 'normal' person dying" and "it's not about you" or even "what about (insert tragic event) that is sadder and you didn't get all upset over that"
ANGEL GRAVE CRYING PRINCE DEATH
Copyright: meletver / 123RF Stock Photo

Well. Grief is a personal thing. You can't tell someone how to grieve. Some people use black humour and joke about it. Some people become quiet. Some talk about the deceased person a lot, filling their chatter with memories and anecdotes. Some avoid the subject completely and speak of mundane things, such as what they had for lunch. Some people cry. Some people write blog posts. All of these responses, and others are normal, personal responses to grief. Maybe the social media police anger is a response too.

In 1985 I was 19, soon to be 20. I was dating my first serious boyfriend and partying and listening to music and....

I was weird in my teens. Due to a whole other story I moved out of my home at 16 and was freer than most 16 year olds. At 19 I was renting my own room. I was not well off of course, so I also struggled to buy clothes and usually dressed from charity shops. I liked the quirky mix of things I found there. I would wear over sized 'mens' pyjamas as day wear, trousers slightly rolled up, top tied at the waist, mixed with a tasselled bra and sequined trainers. I would wear fake fur coats with a micro mini skirt underneath, with thigh high boots and lace gloves. I liked fake leather trousers and ripped T shirts with artful singe marks around the rips. I wore hats. It was lucky that the 80s was all new romantics and glamour, but even among that I felt odd, slightly shabby. And then Prince.

Prince was all about the unusual, he was the epitome of cool, weird cool, but cool and glamorous and flashy and amazing. I didn't buy many single records, they were (at the time) quite expensive, those 50ps were better used in my meter in the winter than in buying music, but when I heard Raspberry Beret...I dreamed that I was that girl. She walked in through out doors, she wore clothes from second hand stores, on warm days she wore hardly anything, and yet she was the perfect girl. The one he loved. Was it coincidence it was the same year I lost my virginity? (not in a barn). I bought the 7inch vinyl. There were no CDs then, no downloads (barely computers) and I played the record on my tiny record player. I played the record and felt good, felt cool.

Prince was a huge part of many people's memories. We all have memories wrapped around celebrities and a celebrity dying, especially when it is unexpected, brings those memories bubbling to the surface, making us grieve not only the celebrity but other things too, days lost, our teen years, the feel of summer with no responsibilities, that first time...

I'm not alone in thinking this - here is MostlyInPyjamas on Twitter


If people are upset that Prince died, it's natural. Let's celebrate the fact that celebrity lives can so touch us that we care. Surely caring, loving and grieving are some of the things that make us human.

Come and share your memories (or don't as the mood takes you) over on my Facebook page.