Actor Cory Monteith’s death an opportunity ‘to discuss a range of issues’

 

The many children who are fans of the TV series Glee have been talking about the death in Vancouver on Saturday of Canadian actor Cory Monteith (31), who plays Finn. Parents have a “golden opportunity” to discuss a range of issues brought about by his death, says Dr Sarah O’Doherty, clinical psychologist.

If your children are fans of the show and are grieving, it’s important to acknowledge their sadness as a “normal” and a natural part of life, she advises. While Finn wasn’t real, Cory’s death was real and it’s okay to be sad.

Tailor your information depending on your children’s ages and stages of awareness – don’t assume anything. First find out as much as you can about what they know. There is no need to go into a long explanation of Monteith’s addiction issues and the suspicion that his death was an overdose if this is not what your child is wondering.

“Talk about why you feel sad when somebody dies, and that it’s very sad even if you don’t know the person well, or have only seen them in the media. Death is going to happen and it’s normal to feel like this,” says Dr O’Doherty.

Struggle
Many children will, however, have learned that Monteith struggled with drug addiction, which is confusing since “his life seemed so perfect”, as one child put it. Explain that sometimes good people with wealth and celebrity make the mistake of taking drugs, even though it’s bad for you and can lead to terrible consequences.

Be forthright about “what a waste” Monteith’s death was, Dr O’Doherty suggests. Experiencing this feeling will be a good life lesson for children.

Another strand of conversation might be that, from the outside, Glee seems like a wonderful existence. ( In real life Monteith was dating his co-star, Lea Michele, blurring the lines between TV and reality further). But explain that reality is not the glamour of the red carpet.

Behind this, Cory was an actor playing a role. Cory might have been an “exceptional person”, as he has been described by those who knew him , but despite the millions and the adoration, he was very unhappy.

Fame does not always bring happiness, an important lesson in an age when every child wants to be a celebrity.

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