Celebrities Speaking Up About Grief

Books, Movies, and Music / Books, Movies, and Music : Litsa Williams

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I will clue you guys in on a little secret: Here at WYG, we talk about grief and loss. A lot. In the rest of our society? Not so much.

Ok, this is not exactly a secret.

Death and grief are topics that make many people uncomfortable, and when I say a lot of people, I mean almost everyone. So we don't talk about it. And by not talking about it, we all become collectively more uncomfortable--it's a mean, vicious cycle.

So when you lose someone, and you feel isolated, alone, and crazy. You feel like people don't want you to talk about it and want you to get over it. But in real life, thousands of people are right there with you, grieving and keeping their mouths shut because they're worried about making other people uncomfortable.

Then someone speaks up and acknowledges their grief -- someone people know, who has an audience, who people listen to. Why do they speak up? Who knows. Where do they find the courage? No idea. But they do. And it is fantastic.

Celebrities grieve, just like us regular people, but because they have an audience they have the ability to normalize the experience in the way most of us do not. They send the message that grief is human. It sucks, but it happens. They send the message that suffering in silence and ignoring grief isn't making us better. So today, we're going to share some big names who have spoken up about grief, depression, and other challenging topics.

Chelsea Handler

Chelsea talks about the loss of her brother and her mother.  She opens up about the difficulties of her grief first as a child, then later about losing her mother and saying goodbye.   We are sure it wasn't an easy topic to talk about on national TV, but we are so glad she did.

The Bloggess

So, I am not going to lie, I am obsessed with The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson.  Obsessed.  If I listed all the reasons you guys may worry I am a stalker (I am not, I swear, but if anyone knows how I can make Jenny my best friend in real life please email me).  

The Bloggess has more than 2 million visitors a month (because she is hilarious and smart and insightful and honest and if you don't follow her blog you should).  What makes her truly amazing is that she speaks up about the stuff so many are trying their hardest to hide or avoid -- depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide, and the fact that sometimes you have to work to be furiously happy.  

She covers all that between posts about small, taxidermied animals, a metal chicken named Beyonce, her haunted dollhouse, feuds with William Shatner, her cats, and Wil Wheaton.  Check out Jenny talking depression here.  Then check out her recent post on the loss of a friend to suicide.  T

hen cheer yourself up by checking out her amazing traveling red dress project.  And make yourself a Depression Lies bracelet.  Thanks to Jenny for talking about the stuff people don't always want to talk about and reminding us that we are not alone.

Photo of Jenny on Katie Couric's show talking about the travelling red dress.  Not a video, sorry!

the bloggess and katie couric

Joan Didion

I read this review of Joan Didion's recent book, Blue Nights (about the death of her daughter) that complained that Didion dropped names too much throughout the book.  I found the irony of this incredible because what I love about Didion, beyond her honest voice, incredible writing, and insight into her own grief, is that her willingness to write Blue Nights and the Year of Magical Thinking were reminders that grief touches everyone.   

Joan Didion wrote an incredibly personal account of the loss of her husband and people loved it because it was real.  She is wealthy and famous and her grief is as real as the next person's. One of these days I will get around to writing a review of both her books.  For now, I will just say, thanks to Joan Didion for her honesty and her incredible writing.  Thanks for writing an honest book on grief that was amazing enough to win the National Book Award.  Thanks for a book that touched millions and has allowed people to see that grief touches even the rich and the famous in the same deep, dark way it touches the rest of us.

For the rest in our Celebrities Speaking Up About Grief series, check out:

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

We wrote a book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
real-life book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books:

Let’s be grief friends.

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3 Comments on "Celebrities Speaking Up About Grief"

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  1. Speaking Up About Grief: Celebrity grief  March 22, 2013 at 9:02 am Reply

    […] series on celebrities speaking up about grief. If you missed it you can see our first installment here – we talked about Chelsea Handler, The Bloggess, and Joan Didion.  Why have we decided to highlight celebrities talking about grief?  It isn’t because […]

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