Grieving the Loss of a Hero


"I'm not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I'm living on." - David Bowie

The loss of a hero has hit us hard. David Bowie's death at 69 surprised the world in part because of the privacy maintained around his illness, but also because we expect our heroes to live forever. Every type of loss has its own sting. The loss of a marriage, a partner, a parent, or a child each brands the heart in a unique way that can only be described by the person feeling the pain.

David Bowie's death presents us with a different kind of loss. Losing an icon like Bowie generates a collective experience of grief. While we mourn the loss of this human being that touched all of us in a way that feels special, we also grieve for much more. As human beings we measure our lives with two things: time and experience. When we think about our relationship to David Bowie we immediately remember where we were and how we felt with him in our life. Listening to an album, seeing him live in concert, hearing an interview or meeting him personally. While many people were lucky enough to engage with Bowie more intimately, most of the world will be grieving not only the loss of this great man, but also the loss of time in our own lives and ultimately a part of ourselves.

These moments of loss force us to step back and take stock of things. How fragile life is, how quickly time passes, how we need to appreciate the moments more fully, and how we can't take anything for granted. Each of us will grieve in our own way for the loss of David Bowie, but we will also grieve together because when someone touches the entire planet with their essence a universal loss is felt.

The pain we feel losing this special person also offers an opportunity for humanity to commune. Loss brings us together as a species, and Bowie's death is a reminder of how connected we all are. It's easy to feel like we are having individual relationships with our heroes when in reality we are generating a great force of love that rises up like the sun every morning. The inter-connected relationship that we often unknowingly maintain with each other through common interest can also be felt with the losses we all have in common. We need to remember that we are capable of collectively grieving, and sharing in our passion and love of everything including our shared relationship with this earth.

As we come together to grieve the loss of our eternal hero David Bowie, let's remember that we are all hurting together. Let's not only focus on his death, but on learning from the collective love he generated among our human race. Perhaps we can let this connection through loss and love linger long enough for each of us to remember that there is power in community, and that power can change the world.

Rest in peace, David Bowie.