Whether it hits you personally or affects you across miles and time, tragedy is always hard to process. It can steal your breath, take away all of your tears, and leave you feeling drained. Of course, we all handle it differently. My husband Jeremy broods on it in silence, mulling over any pain with deliberate and focused thought. I’ve only seen this laidback character cry once and that was over the loss of his beloved childhood dog.
I, on the other hand, am a crier. I wear my big ol’ heart right on my sleeve, and I also tend to dwell on the sadness until its all-consuming. It’s the curse of being a sensitive, empathetic soul. I once spent fifteen minutes crying over a dead goose I’d never even met, and I’ve spent countless hours crying over sad stories about animals and people on television, in movies and books, and even on the internet.
All the crying and hyper-sensitivity probably gets on Jeremy’s nerves, but in the end, neither of us have mastered the correct way to grieve or deal with tragedy…mainly because there is no correct way.
This subject came up over the weekend.
Despite it being Sunday and one of the few days that we can sleep in, I rose early last Sunday. We had plans to meet my parents for breakfast, but the truth was that I just woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep. I went about my morning ritual as normal. Brush teeth, shower, then I went in the living room and checked my phone.
The first news I saw was pretty unbelievable, and at this point, I’m not quite sure I was awake.
Friends on Facebook were lamenting the death of Cory Monteith, my favorite actor on the television series “Glee.” Status updates like, “I can’t believe Cory Monteith is dead,” caused me to wake up faster than I had ever intended.
I loped back to the bedroom, jumped on the bed, and shook Jeremy from his sleep. “Cory Monteith is dead,” I said, watching his glazed over eyes slowly focus on me. “He’s dead!” And then with all the drama of a teenage girl who had just been broken up with, I sobbed.
Looking back on that moment, I feel rather silly. I didn’t know Cory. I can’t even pretend that there was the slightest chance that I would ever meet him. He wasn’t family; he wasn’t a friend. Later in the morning, while moping around the house in a grief-induced fog, I asked Jeremy why the death of a person I didn’t know had affected me so.
His answer was profoundly simple and shed a light on my grief, as well as the grief of millions of others when faced with the tragic death of a celebrity.
He said, “He was part of something you valued; plus, it’s always sad when someone dies.”
When Princess Diana died, I remember crying as I watched her funeral on television. Just the other night, while watching a documentary about Nancy Reagan, I teared up when they showed the footage from Ronald Reagan’s funeral. I didn’t know Princess Di. I didn’t know Ronald Reagan. But both were a part of my childhood, a part of something that with their deaths we would never get back.
Cory Monteith was a part of “Glee.” Faithfully, through good episodes and bad, I have watched “Glee” since it first aired in 2009. I have laughed at, cried with, and cheered for the character of Finn Hudson, portrayed by Cory Monteith. I have sang along with him on my iPod and read about him on Twitter. I didn’t know him, and now I never will. He’s another star that burned out way too soon, a tragedy that will stick with this fangirl for quite some time.