Thanks to the lightning-fast capabilities of social media, news travels quickly these days and becomes outdated even more quickly. Our minds and hearts, however, haven’t kept pace with the digital revolution. The human psyche is still pretty analog, and we need time to process and grieve distressing and confusing events.
I’m talking, of course, about Zayn’s departure from One Direction.
Unless you happen to be a teenage girl (or the parent of one), a boy band member’s decision to leave his globally-known group at the peak of its fame may not seem all that devastating – that is, until you put it in perspective. Many of us have found ourselves grieving in comparable situations.
For example, depending on your age and your entertainment preferences, how did you feel when the Beatles broke up? How about when Diane left the TV sitcom “Cheers” or when “M*A*S*H” or “Seinfeld” aired their final episodes? Did the deaths of individuals like Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Jerry Garcia or Whitney Houston shake up your world?
Entertainment has a significant impact on our lives, and it’s not hard to see why. The right song, the right movie or TV show can show us we’re not alone in our experiences and how we see the world. Likewise, entertainment can also serve as a form of escapism, a way to take a break from reality when life gets difficult. Who hasn’t blasted something like the Ramones’ “The Job That Ate My Brain” after a rough day at the office or sobbed their way through “Pretty in Pink” or “Sleepless in Seattle” after a romantic disappointment?
But what do you do when your escape succumbs to the inevitability of change due to performers or characters dying or otherwise departing? How do you not only cope, but heal and move on?
When I wrote “Prayers for Oppa,” my devotional prayer book for performers and their fans, I never imagined I’d become an expert on what I’ve since dubbed “fan crisis management.” But that’s pretty much what has happened.
My personal area of interest is East Asian entertainment, particularly Korean pop music, or K-pop. 2014 was a year of near-constant crisis for the K-pop industry, including a car crash that killed two members of the girl group Ladies’ Code and injured the other three, a number of performers suing their agencies for abuse and mistreatment, and numerous groups losing members or disbanding entirely. Factor in the Sewol Ferry tragedy – in which nearly 300 people drowned, including more than 200 students on a high school trip – and 2014 was an extremely difficult year for South Korea and those who appreciate the country’s pop culture.
As a result of having dealt with and guided others through so many entertainment-related tragedies in such a small span of time, I’ve come up with the following list of tried and true steps for fan recovery.
Recognize that you have a reason to feel upset.
It’s not “just a band” or “only a TV show.” These are more than performers or characters – they’re role models, friends, even family. They say what’s on your mind better than you ever could, or cheer you up when you’re feeling down. It’s a difficult loss, and it’s OK to acknowledge that.
Express your grief in healthy ways.
Talk to other fans or a trusted friend or relative about what you’re feeling. Listen to that band’s songs or re-watch that TV series and have a good cry. A glass of wine or an ice cream sundae can be a nice pick-me-up, but be careful not to self-medicate with food, alcohol or drugs. Give yourself some time to process and gain perspective before you post on social media.
Ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” In my book (quite literally, as this is the foundational verse of “Prayers for Oppa”), that includes everything from boy band breakups to the end of “Friends.”
Talk to God about what you’re feeling. Express your anger, your disappointment, your sadness – He can handle it. Then, pray for the performers who are involved in the event that has upset you. If someone has left, pray for the person who has left and for those who remain, for their health and well being and for God to guide them as they move forward in their careers. If someone has died, pray for the people he or she has left behind, that God would comfort and heal them.
I really can’t overemphasize the importance of prayer in this process. It brings us comfort and a sense of security and control in the midst of uncertain circumstances, for it reminds us that God is ultimately in charge of the situation and that He will take care of us and the performers in accordance with His will and purposes.
Focus on the positive.
If it’s currently too painful, feel free to take a break from the TV series, music, etc. Otherwise, continue to enjoy it, as well as to treasure the memories you have because of it. Maybe you and your mother bonded over a shared love of “Cheers.” Perhaps one of the happiest outings you’ve had with your father was when he took you to a Nirvana concert. Though band lineups and TV series casts are subject to change, the memories we have as a result of them are lasting.
You can find more sound advice on performer-related topics, along with applicable prayers and Bible verses, in my “Prayers for Oppa” book. For more information, visit my website, www.teresasantoski.com.
I hope these steps will help you to grieve your entertainment-related tragedies in a healthy way, whether it’s a fresh wound like Zayn’s departure from One Direction or an older injury that still aches from time to time, like the Day the Music Died. Though entertainment news and our hearts break at about the same speed, our hearts require more time to heal and move on.
– Teresa Santoski
Originally published April 30, 2015
NEED IT IN A NUTSHELL?
Here’s an ideal conversation between a distraught One Direction fan and a caring parent:
Fan: (sobbing) “Zayn left One Direction! The world is over!”
Parent: “I’m so sorry, honey. I remember how upset I was when Diane left ‘Cheers.’ Do you want to talk about it? We can go get some ice cream and reminisce about how much fun it was when we went to their concert together. And then we can say a little prayer for Zayn and the rest of the members. God will take good care of them.”
Fan: (sniffling) “OK. Can we listen to ‘Story of My Life’ in the car?”
Parent: “We’ll blast it.”