Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Why the impact of David Bowie's death was different.

On January 10 the world lost one of it's great music superstars. 

Just six days prior, I lost my mum.

Both David Bowie, and my mum, Vera, died from cancer. David's death was felt around the world, possibly by millions of people. We heard terms like 'outpouring of emotions' and 'tributes flooding in'. Local radio stations and music channels dedicated time to playing David's music, and sharing sound bites of people talking about him, as well as quotes from David himself. 

As far as I know, my mum's death didn't make the news anywhere. 

Do I think this is wrong? Do I think my mum has been treated unfairly? Not at all. 

My mum was an amazing woman. A true champion of life, and it was an absolute joy to have known her and to have been not only a part of her life, but a result of it. You can read about what became her final act of life here

I think if you read the above, you'll agree that she was an extraordinary person. 

David was also an extraordinary person. His life touched millions. He influenced countless musicians that came after him. Chances are, if you like a modern music act, they were directly or indirectly impacted by David Bowie. 

In the aftermath of the death of David Bowie, amongst the aforementioned 'outpouring of emotion' came what's become known as the 'grief police'. People who have taken to social media to tell others how they must grieve, if they must grieve at all. 

There are two things I'd like to comment on.

The first being the difference between the impact of my mum's death, compared to the impact of David's. (Or Alan Rickman's or Glenn Frey, who I found out while writing this has just passed away, or any 'celebrity' for that matter). It's quite clear that mum's death had a much smaller impact on the world than David's did. Does that mean David was a better person? Does that mean David was loved more by his family than my mum's loved her? Not at all. What it is, is that David's life was very different to the life my mum lived. Through his music he became known around the world. He was 'famous'. My mum wasn't famous. She lived what was, at least compared to David, a simple life. This difference doesn't bother me. I'm not sitting here thinking that my mum's death should be acknowledged the world over, like David's was. The difference in the impact of their deaths is indicative of the difference in the lives they had, not in their value as people. 

The second thing is people telling others how they should grieve. No. Just no. I don't want to assume to tell someone how *they* should feel about someone else's death. I have no idea what impact David Bowie, or anyone else, had on the life of someone else. I have no idea how someone used David Bowie's music to make their life better, or to get into music themselves, or whatever impact it had. Sure, that person may never have met David or may not have known David personally, but does that mean David's life didn't have a significant impact on theirs? Not at all. 

Every life is different. Every death is different. Every death is different to different people. It's not for us to tell others how they should react when someone dies. It's up to them to decide. If someone wants to sit on the back step and cry quietly, so be it. If someone wants to send a series of tweets or to make their Facebook status an epic devotion and tribute to someone who had an impact on them...so be that too. How does it hurt anyone else? 

Life is a wonderful thing. It's short, but also the single longest thing any of us will ever experience. I love that mine has been impacted by great artists from around the world. Some I've met, many I haven't. Some who'd even died before I even knew of them. 

Whether they be a singer, actor, painter, writer, comedian, sculptor, director, poet, or dancer, if your life has not been impacted by an artist whose death has moved you to grief, I feel sorry for you.  

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