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Editor’s Column: Losing our heroes — stages of grief

It is not easy when those we admire are shown to be, well, not so heroic.

For many, such has been the case with Oscar Pistorius, the amputee Olympic athlete who has been accused of murdering his girlfriend.

Even if he is found innocent, at this point, many will consider his alleged crimes his downfall.

There is something strange that happens when those we admire disappoint us.

While they have not died, they have been lost and many of us go through the stages of grief.

First we are in denial.

“There is no way he could have done that,” we think. “He is being set up.”

Once we come to the realization that maybe, just maybe they did commit that horrible act, we get angry.

We take it personally.

“How could he have done that to his fans? To me?”

Often, we wonder how our heroes could be so stupid. They had so much going for them. They’ve overcome so much and achieved more than most could imagine. How could they ruin it?

Next comes bargaining. We start making deals with our heroes (even though they don’t know it). If only he could right this wrong, show us that even though he messed up, he is still the stand up guy we all thought him to be. Own the mistake, deal with the punishment and handle it with dignity. Then, maybe then, we’ll forgive him. We’ll accept him again.

Next is depression.

We’re hurt. We’re sad. We stop watching the sport they were involved in or the movies we used to love watching because they were the star. Those things just aren’t the same any more, though, so why bother.

Finally, we get over it. We accept it.

We find other heroes, ones we deem more worthy than the last. And we go through the same build up, setting these people on pedestals.

Hoping, praying they won’t disappoint us next.

About

Kristen Czaban

Kristen Czaban joined The Sheridan Press staff in 2008 and covered beats including local government, cops and courts and the energy industry. In 2012, she was promoted and now serves as the managing editor for The Press. Czaban has a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

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