It can feel like the end of an era, when the death is announced of someone we’ve spent our lives watching on stage or screen.
Although we may not have personally known them, psychologist Annie Broadbent – who helps the bereaved in her regular Funeral Guide advice column – says grief over a famous person’s death can be sincerely felt. She explains that celebrity deaths can be a catalyst through which people release deeper-held emotions over more personal losses or experiences in their lives.
“Celebrities are essentially our modern-day mentors – we all need to look up to someone and they offer us that,” says Annie.
“Celebrity deaths can be a trigger for other losses in people’s lives, whether they are aware of it or not. It’s a way of processing.”
These 10 celebrities who died in 2017 will be greatly missed by many.
Best known for his songs, The American Girl and Free Falling, Tom Petty was a rock icon described by Bob Dylan as “a great performer, full of light, and a great friend.”
The Heartbreakers frontman died on October 2, aged 66 and his life was honored at a private service at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, California. Mourners at the funeral included Sean Penn, Rick Rubin, and Jimmy Iovine. Those paying their respects were gifted with a Tom Petty t-shirt featuring the Latin phrase “Nil Desperandum”, which means “no need to despair”.
His daughter, AnnaKim Violette Petty later shared a number of touching photographs from the service on her Instagram account.
Fans were heartbroken when singer-songwriter and Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, died on May 17,after taking his own life in Detroit.
His funeral took place at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on May 26, 2017 in Los Angeles. Chester Bennington, former lead singer of Linkin Park who sadly took his own life months later in July 2017, sang Leonard Cohen’s, Hallelujah as a tribute to rock legend Cornell. A number of A-list stars attended the funeral including actors Brad Pitt and Christian Bale, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield of Metallica.
Best known for his country songs, Rhinestone Cowboy and Wichita Lineman, Glen Campbell died on August 8, aged 81, following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The Arkansas-born singer-songwriter was the voice behind 21 Top 40 hits and sold 45 million records.
Glen, who had eight children and ten grandchildren, as well as great and great-great-grandchildren, was buried in a private family ceremony in his hometown, Delight, the day after he died.
Just two months before his death, he released an album, Adios. It featured songs from his Goodbye Tour, which followed his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2011.
Fans were devastated when Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington took his own life following a struggle with depression, on July 20, aged 41. The talented artist will be remembered for his huge talent, big heart and caring soul.
Father of six Chester’s took place a week later at Palos Verdes in California, where around 200 mourners attended. At the funeral service, friends and family were given yellow Chester Bennington wristbands, and memorial cards designed to resemble backstage passes. During the service, musical tributes were performed live on stage in his memory.
Mary Tyler Moore
Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress, Mary Tyler Moore died on January 25, aged 80. After finding fame as Laura Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s, Moore became one of the most popular television stars of all time, with her comedy series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show turning her into a modern women’s icon. In addition to her acting, Moore dedicated a lot of her time to the American Diabetes Association.
Mary was laid to rest in a quiet ceremony attended by close family and friends in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Fairfield, Connecticut. Her family purchased a 12-plot gravesite with five-foot angel statue that adorns her grave.
Patriots vs Broncos at Gillette Stadium, October 2008 via Wikimedia Commons
Former New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys receiver, Terry Glenn died in a car accident on November 20, aged 43. Glenn played 12 NFL seasons, making the Pro Bowl in 1999 as and finished his career with 8,823 yards and 44 touchdowns.
A public memorial celebrating his life was held at Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas on December 1 .
His family requested that memorial donations were sent to Glenn's 83 Kids Foundation, the non-profit he founded to help give life chances to children growing up in foster care, including educational and work opportunities, housing and transitional living arrangements.
Best known for his role as Batman in the 1960s television series, Adam West died on June 9 aged 88 after suffering a short battle with leukemia. LA’s skyline was lit up with the Bat-Signal on June 15 as Batman fans gathered to honor his life.
During his career, West also lent his voice to animated characters in TV series including Family Guy, Rugrats, The Simpsons and Chicken Little. Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane said: “Family Guy has lost its mayor, and I have lost a friend. Adam West was a joy to work with, and the kind of guy you always wanted to be around.”
West also dedicated much time supporting charities. In 2001 he won $250,000 on TV’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, which was donated to Idaho Children’s Trust Fund which supports vulnerable women and children in Idaho.
Vocalist and pianist, Fats Domino was one of the biggest selling rock and roll performers of the 1950s, best known for his songs Ain’t That A Shame and Blueberry Hill. He died peacefully at home aged 89 on October 24, surrounded by those he loved and those who loved him.
Fats was among the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was referred to as ‘the real king of rock n roll’ by Elvis Presley. He’ll be remembered by his peers for his two-fisted boogie-woogie piano and nonchalant vocals. "His voice, piano playing and musical style was a huge influence on us," Paul McCartney said. "As one of my favourite rock ‘n’ roll singers, I will remember him fondly and always think of him with that twinkle in his eye.”
Fats Domino’s life was honoured with a celebratory second line, a traditional jazz funeral parade honouring someone’s life in New Orleans.
Seventies teen heartthrob, David Cassidy who found fame in musical-sitcom The Partridge Family, died on November 21 surrounded by his loved ones. The singer and actor, who died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida surrounded by his family, rose to fame playing singer Keith Partridge, going on to become a pop music sensation in his own right with hits including Daydreamer. At one time, his fan club outnumbered that of The Beatles and Elvis Presley combined.
Later on in his life, he struggled with alcohol and financial difficulties, but had success in Broadway musicals like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. earlier on in 2017, he had revealed that he was battling dementia and had decided to stop touring, finding it difficult to remember his song lyrics. It was reported that following a private cremation, his family was planning a private memorial service and also considering the possibility of a public memorial for fans to pay their respects.
Two time Emmy winner, and comedian, Jay Thomas died on August 24 after battling cancer. The 69 year old actor was best known for his roles on sitcoms Murphy Brown and Cheers, but also appeared on Showtime's Ray Donovan.
He is survived by his wife, Sally Michelson, who he married in 1987, and their two children, Samuel and Jacob. To his fellow screen stars Jay will be remembered for his wit and kind heart.
Although Wham! superstar, George Michael, died on Christmas Day 2016, his private funeral did not take place until March 29, this year. The Careless Whisper singer was laid to rest next to his mother in his family’s plot at Highgate Cemetery.
Highgate Cemetery have told fans wishing to mourn the star that George’s grave is in a private area, which is not open to members of the public to visit. Many fans have left flowers and tokens ouside the singer’s former home, which have become an informal shrine to the star.
- Discover more about the different ways we work through the grieving process and how you can support someone who has been bereaved.