anne mikolay 2012 120Our society is enamored with celebrity; we have magazines and evening news shows dedicated entirely to reporting the lives of the rich and famous. When a well known performer encounters trouble or passes away, collective empathy and grief eventually yield to criticism and judgment. Shortly after Robin Williams passed, for example, the insensitive among us speculated about his suicide. Three years prior, when singer Whitney Houston was found dead in a bathtub, respect was shoved aside as the public examined her life under a microscope and found her lacking. Fast forward to current day, and Houston's twenty one year old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, lies unresponsive in a Georgia hospital after being found unconscious, like her mother, in a bathtub. The gossip has begun. Was Bobbi Kristina doing drugs/drinking? Was she murdered by someone who stood to gain financially from her death? Was this a calculated suicide attempt meant to mimic Whitney Houston's death? After Whitney Houston's passing, why didn't Bobbi Kristina constructively channel her grief and bounce back?  Though I am not a Whitney Houston fan, Bobbi Kristina has been on my mind. Why? Because I'm a daughter whose mom has died. I get it, Bobbi Kristina.

When an adult loses a loved one, they are expected to systematically pass through the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) and get back to pressing tasks at hand. Get back to work. Get back to class. Get back to life. But the end of a funeral service does not trigger instant healing and putting one foot in front of the other every day is not an indication of emotional progress. Those in mourning will have good days when their loss seems bearable and memory evokes comfort rather than pain, and they are going to have bad days when they can't get it together and just want to sit in a corner and cry. Losing your mother, your first anchor, your first source of comfort, sustenance, security, is truly difficult, and all the more sorrowful for daughters (like Bobbi Kristina and yours truly), who enjoyed a special relationship with their moms.

When my mother passed away, I was much older than Bobbi Kristina Brown. I had a supportive family to help me cope and two babies to focus my attention on the future. I also had my faith, something I can thank my mother for, and my belief in the afterlife. Faith, however, is as diverse as human response to tragedy and loss. Whereas I was blessed with the resources to get me through those five stages of grief, others, perhaps like Bobbi Kristina, are not. I will never know what happened to Whitney's daughter, the depth of the young lady's sorrow, the actions she took that led to her losing consciousness in a bathtub, the circumstances/people that contributed to the tragedy. But I do know a daughter's grief is deep and long lasting. My heart goes out to Bobbi Kristina Brown and all who mourn.

As Whitney Houston's daughter fights for her life, the public should not rush to judgment. Drugs...alcohol...fast lifestyle...negative friends...whatever...it all comes down to this: Bobbi Kristina Brown is a little girl missing her mother.

I get it, Bobbi Kristina.