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Three Things That Are Really Bothering Me about the Death of Prince

We like to poke fun at celebrities – their money, their eccentricities, their attitudes. There are certainly some of them who seem pretty off the wall at times. But fame is not all it’s cracked up to be, where everything you say or do can be worldwide within seconds, ridiculed and torn apart by strangers behind their keyboards. Imagine having your most private and intimate experiences plastered all over and aired (and usually misunderstood) in public. I think living like that would break most of us.

Now Prince was a unique creature – talented beyond description, he seemed completely his own man right from the beginning. And he managed the spotlight for over 30 years with exacting and personal precision. But when a celebrity dies, especially tragically and unexpectedly, all bets are off and there are things that happen that compound the tragedy and turn the whole thing into a circus.

Mannerless Media Mayhem

In the last few days, I have watched reporters and paparazzi chase down Prince’s band and friends, especially Sheila E., and cram a microphone in their face to ask obnoxious questions:

“When was the last time you spoke to him?”

“What were his last words?”

“How will be you remember him?”

And my favorite, “How are you feeling?”

That the story is more important than respecting people’s grief and privacy is beyond unconscionable to me. Leave her alone, for chrissakes! She is clearly shattered and trying to wrap her head around what has happened. Please please give the woman some space. She is just a human being who has lost one of her nearest and dearest – her celebrity does not mean she owes you anything.

It is hard enough for any of us to deal with the nosey and unhelpful questions we get after a death. In all of my losses, I think the dumbest one I’ve heard was, “Are you going to miss your Dad?” Pardon me, but that has about 12 answers and none of them are your business, because you don’t know me. Nor do we know those in the public eye – they ought to be treated with the respect of any grieving individual. Period.

Dissected Details

Prince was extraordinarily private. His estate at Paisley Park was reportedly filled with cameras, glass floors, microphones (and who knows what else) to vet visitors, control access and to protect its unconventional owner. He rarely talked about his family, his faith, or his money.

But now that he is gone, every nook and cranny and scrap of info, rumor and penny will be dug through and spread out in the open for all to see – and judge. All his efforts will be for naught and his life will be torn to pieces and dissected on the public stage. And I think that would upset him to no end.

Performers are just people – people who are different sometimes, but who deserve to be left in peace if they so choose. But now his choice is gone.

No Estate Papers??

Obviously, Prince didn’t have any idea he would die at 57. But someone who was worth $250 million must have had someone who tried to tell him that he needed a will, proxies, trusts and final arrangements spelled out. Now the family will begin to fight over all that money and it will get ugly and again, played out in the public eye, which I don’t think Prince would have wanted.

I saw this many times when I worked in the Trusts & Estates department of a law firm. Families would fight for years over millions of dollars until the money was all gone and they were still angry. Having an expert who specializes in this field of law is essential for any of us who have assets, children, pensions, any retirement funds or valuables. Spell it out and make sure there is a person in charge of fulfilling your wishes after you are gone. This is not legal advice – just practical advice.

But it is a common theme following the death of a star – people squabbling over their assets and possessions. Greed and entitlement can hijack the moment, and the salaciousness of gossip takes center stage, rather than the talent and gifts that have been lost.

This doesn’t even touch on when drugs or addiction come into play. Then the circus can get even uglier. From Elvis to Michael, the judgements come fast and furious about the choices they made, who they were and how hard it is to tell someone that powerful “No.”

I wish we were kinder to those in the public eye. And kinder to their loved ones when they leave us. They are just people trying to find their way. And their death does not mean we are entitled to know more about them or to harass their loved ones. Respect, people – RESPECT.

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