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People Explain Which Celebrity Deaths Were Hardest On Them

Reddit user Consistent-Wafer4092 asked: 'What celebrity death was the hardest for you?'

angel statue in cemetery
Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.

When a celebrity dies, we can find ourselves grieving despite often not having ever met them.

But why do we do that?

According to psychologist Dr. Terri Bacow, PhD:

"Grief for someone you don't know personally can arise because people can form parasocial relationships with public figures. A parasocial relationship is a one-sided relationship."
"Often, people invest time and energy in their parasocial relationships, and it can be very upsetting when the person dies. On a psychological level, the loss triggers empathy and compassion as well as loneliness."
"People often struggle with change, and when someone dies that you have been 'following' this can come as a shock and require a period of adjustment."

I'm not a terribly sentimental person and I was raised in a culture with a more open relationship with death.

I think this affected my reactions to all deaths—family, friends and celebrities. At my age, many of the famous people whose work I enjoyed or admired have died, but I can't say any devastated me.

Of all the celebrity deaths I experienced since my childhood, I'd say Princess Diana's affected me the most. I'm not much of a royal watcher, but I happened to be watching TV as the breaking news of the car accident and announcement of her death aired.

With two young children she clearly adored and her commitment to causes like land mine eradication and HIV/AIDS, it all seemed very tragic to me.

Reddit user Consistent-Wafer4092 asked:

"What celebrity death was the hardest for you?"

Chadwick Boseman

"Chadwick Boseman. Heartbreaking."

~ AclysmicJD

"I was just in utter shock when I heard the news."

"He was a true icon."

~ Reddit

"His death made me so sad. And I'm not a celebrity follower."

"Just the idea of someone so young fighting and losing such a horrible battle privately while publicly being an inspiration to so many kids..."

"First celebrity death I ever cried over."

~ azemilyann26

Mr Rogers

"Fred Rogers. Helped at least 4 decades of children learn that they ARE important."

~ papawam

Mr. Rogers - Time To Say

"Seriously. The man was as close to a living Saint as you could possibly find."

~ YesNoMaybe

"Mr.Rogers was my dad—at least I thought he was when I was little and my dad was absent from my life."

"He was the first positive male role model in my life and I watched his show religiously until my early teens."

"Nothing will come close to this one for me."

~ throwawaymumm

Alex Trebek

"My earliest memories include my father watchingJeopardy! and playing along. I watched with him when I was old enough to understand the game."

"We both cried when we mentioned Alex Trebek's passing in casual conversation."

~ drj4130

"Even at my 'too cool for family' peak in high school, I’d still sit down for 30 minutes to play Jeopardy! with my family and learn some fun facts along the way."

"Alex Trebek was by all accounts a wonderful man."

"I also cried when I heard the news. I miss him."

~ phishNotFish

"I wept like a baby when my wife told me. I used to watch Jeopardy! every day with my Grandma as a kid, and it's the only game show that I would consistently watch into adulthood whenever I was home to catch it."

"My Grandmother passed in 2007, and I always thought of her while watching. I kind of hoped I'd end up on the show one day and get to meet him."

~ deathbysupercool

"My entire life all I have ever wanted is to be on Jeopardy!. I watched with my Poppy every night."

"And while the show continues, and I love Ken hosting, the day Alex Trebek died was the day my dream died."

"I learned from a friend sending me a message the morning it happened, and I sobbed."

~ marxychick1

John Candy

"I still get sad when I think about him. It felt like he was a family member."

"I loved that guy."

~ PhilosopherExpert625

"My whole family quotes Uncle Buck on the regular."

"When we rewatch it and it ends on the last scene where he waves…we all just 🥹🥲😭"

~ -thatsrough-buddy

"He was funny, sweet and adorable. I wish he was still around."

~ MozzarellaFitzgerald

Phil Hartman

"Phil Hartman was especially brutal."

~ Waggonly

The Brief And Incredibly Tragic Life Of Phil


"I grew up watching SNL in the glorious late 80s/early 90s and this hit me hard."

~ Chocklateicecream

"Phil Hartman hit me hard because I was married to an alcoholic borderline personality wife. Freaked me out and probably led me to finally leaving her."

~ tek_ad

"Phil’s death hit me hardest. NewsRadio was my favorite show and he was truly a nice guy."

"I honestly believe that he and Sinbad were going to be the new Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor."

"So much talent gone in an instant."

~ OriolesrRavens1974

"I still remember exactly where I was when it came on the radio that he had died. What a senseless tragedy."

~ lemon-rind

Anthony Bourdain

"Anthony Bourdain. For me it was that he basically lived my dream life, and was still unhappy."

"I was in a very depressed period of my life when he died and I truly loved his shows and outlook on life. They were an escape for me."

"So to see him succumb to the same demons I had, when he had a subjectively 'better' life, really f*cked with me."

"I'm in a better spot now, but I really miss him. I wish he could have worked through his issues like I did."

~ RunawayReptar94

"After watching the documentary about him and the behind the scenes documentary the crew put together—you can watch both on HBO—the idea of Anthony Bourdain and what happened to him really hit me and my significant other (SO) in a very different way."

"Initially the news about his death really f*cked up my SO. He loved Tony’s work more than I did at the time and like you really felt this similar trajectory, or at least an inclination to make your life different."

"We recently went on a Bourdain binge (writing and TV episodes) and were kind of using it as inspiration for an idea we have been working on."

"After watching the documentary, I realized there was an aspect of Parts Unknown and of Tony’s life that I don’t think even he understood. And I think he went into Parts Unknown without a deeper sense of philosophy or direction."

"I think the extreme travel regimen, the types of places and circumstances they were exposed to and all of the media attention that followed resulted in what my SO likes to call 'overexposed and underdeveloped'. You saw this lovely person take on the world wide-eyed and hoping to find something true, to reveal something more about humanity through the lens of food and travel, and you have a crew swept up in this vision while also wanting to execute great television."

"It’s hard to stop all that momentum to think you might not just be flying too close to the sun, but you’re actually going straight for the hot, blinding light. Cut to the media getting into his business with his last girlfriend, his tendency for addiction (substitute drugs for food and cooking, then writing and traveling, then a person who you feel you can pour yourself into), and disdain for having things in his life be out of his control, you get a really bad end."

"Very specifically, and really saliently in a way I can’t emphasize enough, I realized there is a lot of Tony in me and in most people who have a hard time dialing into the preconceived notions of what it means to have a valuable life or to be happy."

"But there was also lot internally and externally that warped Tony, and simply embarking on the things that you think will make you happy don’t make up for an empty space you don’t know how to fill."

~ the_portree_kid

Carrie Fisher Then Debbie Reynolds

"If you like Carrie Fisher you need to see the stand up bit that she did—Wishful Drinking—where she talked about her famous parents and their marriages and divorces and her mental health and addiction issues over the years.

"LOVED her for being so candid about her struggles and addiction issues."

~ JohnWasElwood

A Tribute To Carrie

"Have you seen her and Debbie Reynolds' HBO documentary, Bright Lights?"

"You'll cry. And laugh. And cry some more."

~ MHullRealtr77

"They died a day apart. It was so sad."

~ Dada2fish

"One of the last things Debbie Reynolds’s said was that she wanted to be with Carrie."

"Poor woman died of a broken heart."

~ Dada2fish

"The day Carrie died, I said 'you better not take Debbie Reynolds!' then the universe did and we were all sad."

~ wylietrix

"I adored Carrie Fisher, she was always overflowing with wit and spirit."

"I think part of the reason her death hit so hard for me, though, was because I'm such a fan of Craig Ferguson who was a near neighbor and good friend of hers."

"I was almost as sad for him losing such a smart and beautiful friend as I was for her death on its own."

~ willingisnotenough

"Individually, Carrie was hard enough. Her mother dying the next day made it worse."

~ classicsat

Anton Yelchin

"Anton Yelchin. It's just so tragic and horrifying, it stuck with me."

~ Time-Cover-8159

"Happened right when he was about to blow up."

"Hate thinking he died alone and probably terrified."

~ Karakara16

"He was at such a high point in his career, and then the fact that it was such a freak accident..."

"It left me very shaken and I still hate to think about it."

~ roboeyes

"This will always be my answer. Taken so young for such an unnecessary and avoidable reason."

"He was such a joy to watch. RIP."

~ nothingidentifying_

Chris Cornell

"Chris Cornell, all of his music hits differently now."

~ Glum_Material3030

"That one was a tough loss for me."

"Was the voice of my adolescence."

~ troyjensenart

"This is the one for me too."

"I’ll never forget that morning hearing the news."

"For a guy that seemingly had gotten to a good place, it was such a shock."

~ drum5150

"I grew up in Seattle but moved away several years before he passed away and happened to be in town for a family thing."

"I’ll never forget learning about it late at night, and mourning with my bff and my city the next day, which I’m glad I was able to do."

"Losing Chris Cornell was like losing a piece of my hometown and my youth, on top of the pain of such a bright light burning out."

"It just really hurt."

~ Sandytits

Terry Pratchett

"Sir Terry Pratchett (GNU!) really messed me up."

"It was like I had lost an actual grandfather, even though I never even met him."

"It made no sense and still hurt so much."

~ Pakkaslaulu

"There was an obituary on his Twitter page that said something like 'And Death took Sir Terry by the hand...' which got me right in the feels."

"Death is one of my favourite characters he wrote."

"Terry Pratchett's writing was clever, humorous, compelling and moving and it was a sad day indeed when he went."

~ Puzzlecat13

"What really got me was when they interviewed Neil Gaiman about Good Omens—which he cowrote with Terry Pratchett—about whether he wanted success or wealth or recognition for his work the most."

"He just stared at them blankly and said, 'I just want my friend back'."

~ Pakkaslaulu

David Bowie

"I studied abroad in London that very semester when Bowie passed."

"It was very sad, but also a unique opportunity to see first hand the cultural impact he had in his home country."

"I remember in the nightclubs I went to that they played Bowie a ton and everybody would go crazy and celebrate him."

~ tomahawk_choppa

"Bowie was tough."

"Only made easier by the release of Blackstar."

"I like to think that the release coinciding with his death 48 hours later was a gift from the Man who fell to earth to us, as he ventured home."

~ DubC_Bassist

Alan Rickman

"Alan Rickman. So many iconic roles in so many different phases of my life."

~ WiseDonkey593

Remembering Alan

"I cried at work when he passed away."

~ drowninginplants

"A woman I worked with at the time was weeping one morning and I asked her what was wrong. 'Sir Alan Rickman died,' she said. 'Who?'."

"She begins listing all of his accomplishments. I’m still drawing a blank so she shows me a picture."

"'What, why didn’t you say Hans Gruber died‽‽'."

~ Much_Progress_4745

"Why do you have to remind me that the sweetest man I have ever known is dead."

~ nakamaganda

"Always... 😢"

~ MaryPop130

Robin Williams

"Robin Williams. This one hurt me too."

"My mother now has the same dementia, Lewy Body Dementia. It's a terrible disease and I understand why he exited before it really took him."

"Still hurts."

~ omghorussaveusall

"I saw his comedy show back in the day."

"My face muscles hurt so bad after laughing the entire time. He was so rapid fire you could not stop laughing from one joke to the next.

"And he interacted with people in the audience nonstop , such a quick wit."

~ Hebegebe101

"I haven't met many celebrities, but I was in Aspen once when he was in a bar just telling stories and buying beers."

"He made a crazy crack about the Texas shirt I was wearing."

"He was awesome, just having a good time with total strangers. I'll never forget that."

~ unaskthequestion

"We ain't never had a friend like him."

~ ScorpionX-123

Grant Imahara

"I keep forgetting Grant Imahara died and its gut wrenching every time I remember."

"Doesn't feel real man."

~ FeelingAcanthaceae68

"It broke me when Grant died."

"The worst part is how he went. Grant passed at 49 from a random aneurysm."

~ MasonP2002

"Yeah, the dude was cute, kind and a real brain!"

~ louloutre75

"That one’s hit hard. He was a big part of my teens for sure."

~ CoryBlk

Steve Irwin

"Steve Irwin. Sure he f*cked with deadly animals."

"But he really actually cared about them."

~ psilocibic_mind_69

"Yup. Steve was a good human who genuinely cared about the environment. He’s got two great kids who do, too."

"Just an unimaginable reach in our generation on wildlife and conservation issues. He was a true class act."

~ Kitosaki

"As a kid it hurt me because he was this absolute Idol. Coolest man in the world. The beautiful Discovery Channel/Animal Planet days, where they had a real mission."

"As an adult it's sad to look back on because the dude was so f*cking pure. A mass of positivity and passion."

"Bad things happening to the best people are the worst things in life."

~ JacksGallbladder

So many of these celebrities touched our lives.

I had been an Anton Yelchin fan long before Star Trek. Alan Rickman's performances as a villain were always so memorable. And Carrie Fisher was so brilliant and funny. Steve Irwin's widow Terri and children Bindi and Robert were foremost in my mind when he died.

All great losses.

What celebrity death impacted you most?


If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 in the United States and Canada.

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at: