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What would you do if you lost a loved one?

Introduction

We all need to take comfort in the type of misery we can relate to from time to time. In this article, we explore the ultimate in despair, through the eyes of celebrities who went through it. The ultimate pain of course is losing a loved one, whether a child, spouse, parents, or close friend through unexplained circumstances somewhat in our control. Imagine the regret, the constant thoughts in the back of your head in terms of what you could have done more, and then try to overcome it.  Music is sometimes the best tool for understanding the pain of each one of these celebrities, and we’ve compiled one that will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. 

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AI envisioned alternative universe where Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love are happily married without drugs and fame in the picture

"My goal keeps me alive ... and no personal issue is going to interfere with that. If people try to put me in the crazy box–’ crazy f***g Courtney’–go ahead. But if you think you’re going to stop me from where I’m going, you’re not going to do it. I work my ass off. I deliver the goddamn goods. And I will deliver them again.” 

How do you move on when an entire generation of youth blames you for killing their God? That’s the struggle Courtney Love the wife of Kurt Cobain must endure until eternity. That’s what Kurt Cobain was for all the angry and troubled youth in the early ’90s; a God. When he shot and killed himself at the tender age of 27 on April 8th, 1994, he left behind a wife and an 18-month-old daughter, and he ended once and for all his never-ending battle with drugs and fame that divided his band and family. There is no sugarcoating that fact.

Many fans, both men and women refused to believe their idol could have taken his own life. Accusations escalated that his wife pulled the trigger, when Courtney, who was openly struggling with addiction herself, released her breakthrough album “Live thru this”, which went Platinum, a few days after Cobain’s demise. But it was this nothing can stop me mindset Courtney used to successfully raise her daughter. Her child’s determination to thrive as a successful model and artist, mirrored her own, despite the challenging circumstances they faced during her upbringing.

It’s somewhat ironic that, despite her ideal feminist qualities, many of Kurt Cobain’s female fans harbored resentment towards his wife. Perhaps the immense pressure of living up to the larger-than-life image fans had created for Kurt became too much for him to bear. Superstars of such iconic status surface only once in many generations, but rarely do we consider whether they desired such fame in the first place. Just listen to the lyrics of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, the single that defined a generation, or listen to the sound in his voice in this MTV live special.

When Kurt Cobain tragically passed away, it sent shockwaves through college campuses everywhere, not unlike the devastating loss of John Lennon 14 years before. The Beatles legend had thrived in the limelight, unlike Kurt, whose struggles with addiction and fame ultimately cost him his. Amidst this turmoil, Nirvana band members and his wife, Courtney, fought tirelessly to help Kurt overcome his battles. They hoped for a fresh start that tragically never came. In honor of this desire for a fresh start and to honor two musical demi-gods, we’ve included a link to one of John Lennon’s last singles, ‘Just Like Starting Over’ because not being able to start over was the bond that both of these musicians, turned deities shared.

Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, Hole

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AI envisioning the wedding of Aaliyah and Damon Dash had her jet not crashed

"Our intention at first wasn’t even to fall in love, we were just really good friends... But what I learned from that, number one is I didn’t know what being in love was. I didn’t even understand what that feeling is and I was able to achieve that with her ... After she passed, it changed my whole life, because I would only do what I love .. I would only be around people I love. That became the only currency I cared about was how I felt.”

Is it conceivable that two celebrities, constantly surrounded by beauty and excess experience lasting love? For Damon, it was more than conceivable. He was in the throes of what to him was his ‘first’ time, with the hope of putting a ring on Aaliyah’s finger. But then, fate intervened in the cruelest of ways: He was a 29-year-old music executive, and she was only 22 when Aaliyah’s plane crashed. Even at that age, Aaliyah left a catalog to be remembered making the piano cool again while combining it with her heavenly voice. It’s deeply disheartening to contemplate how this devastating plane crash could’ve been sidestepped, had a cascade of regrettable decisions not converged at the worst possible moment. The plane was undesirably overburdened, further compounded by the harsh reality that the one at the helm was a pilot who remarkably lacked the appropriate certification. In a galling stroke of irony, no one could be held accountable in a court of law, for the authors of this tragedy met their end alongside their innocent victims; Aaliyah and her crew. Consequently, numerous families were painfully stripped of the vibrant lives of their loved ones. Best to remember the singer and her crew for their accomplishments like this timeless classic.

Aaliyah, Damon Dash

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AI envisioning Keanu Reeves in fight scenes

“I absolutely relate to that, and I don’t think you ever work through it. Grief and loss, ... are things that don’t ever go away. They stay with you.”

Keanu is the icon of not one, but 4 major movie franchises; Speed, Bill & Teds Excellent Adventures, The Matrix, and John Wick the last two franchises coming during and after the loss of both his daughter and then the mother of his child. 

In a heartbreaking turn of events in 1999, Keanu Reeves and his then-long-time partner, Jennifer Syme, faced the heart-rendering loss of their daughter Ava, who was tragically stillborn. The tragic incident possibly sent ripples through their relationship, ultimately leading to their separation. Further deepening this wound, Jennifer Syme lost her life in a car crash within merely two years following their split.

Known for his reticent nature, Keanu has largely remained silent about his heartbreaking experiences. However, during the rise of the John Wick franchise, he hinted that his loss was instrumental in shaping the character in the movie franchise as it laid the groundwork for his portrayal of John Wick.

Writing for ‘The Human Story’, we often draw parallels between stories and songs. Considering this entry revolves around loss, recovery, and positive progression, this song perfectly captures the emotions of pain, tears, and ultimately ‘moving on’ after losing a beloved to a car accident.

Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Syme, Ava Reeves

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AI envisioning Tupak Skakur surrounded by Cadillacs

Many of us are fortunate enough to forge lifelong friendships from our high school years. Occasionally, these friend-only relations blossom between a boy and a girl, even when both parties fully comprehend the complexities of such a bond. This bond often matured into adulthood, such was the case for Jada Pinkett Smith. They were never more than friends, but that doesn’t mean the pain Jada felt at the age of 25 when she lost her confidante was any less real. Indeed, in such relationships, emotions often run deeper on one side. Such was the case for Tupak, who once penned a letter to Jada stating, “Upon profound introspection and spiritual awakening, I’ve realized the friend, love, and soulmate I’ve been seeking was there all along.”

Unfortunately, Tupak was never meant for Jada, as a driveby shooting took the life of this young talent known as much for his activism and community involvement as he was for his music and acting achievements making him as much of a deity to his fans as Kurt Cobain earlier in this piece. Tupac was attending a boxing match at the MGM Grand Hotel when the shooting occurred. He was riding in a car with Marion Suge Knight, the CEO of Death Row Records when a white Cadillac pulled up alongside them and opened fire. Tupac was hit multiple times, including in the chest, pelvis, and right hand.

In September 2023, nearly three decades after Tupac Shakur’s tragic passing in 1996, there was a significant breakthrough in his case. Nevada’s grand jury finally charged gang leader Duane “Keffe D” Davis, aged 60, with a single count of murder using a deadly weapon. At the time of drafting this article, legal proceedings are still in progress. For Jada Pinkett Smith, Tupac’s long-time friend, who parted ways with him in anger over his behavior post his release from prison on sexual abuse charges, this investigation may be a form of closure. Her last words to Shakur were dominated by her disappointment, making this breakthrough in his case even more poignant. This ode to his mother is the perfect tonic.

2Pac, Tupak Shakur, Jada Pinkett Smith, Duane Davis

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A melancholy Robert Plant lamenting the loss of his son as envisioned by AI

The folly of youth. Yes, our younger years were carefree and fun, and our dreams were simple, get famous and live a life of infinite pleasure. The 1970s were the ideal time for this life,  associated most with Rock ‘n’ Roll, especially with the band Led Zeppelin. At 26, our brain fully matures allowing us to better understand our true preferences and move away from a free-spirited life, or at least begin to understand its consequences. Many individuals escape unscathed from their past excesses, but many don’t. Take Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin’s lead singer. His wake-up call required the death of his 5-year-old son Karac. While Robert didn’t cause his son’s illness and subsequent passing, he battled overwhelming guilt for not being present during this ordeal. His absence, due to being engrossed in the band’s tour and associated lifestyle, left him blind to the troubles brewing at his home. It took a year, but he gave up all hedonistic activities and settled into a quiet family life. His music became noticeably milder, less wrathful, and more invigorating. The most powerful representation of this transformation is the tender song composed for his son – ‘All of My Love’.

Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin

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Johnny and June Carter Cash in Black and White from Hurt video

In this article, we focus on the powerful human responses when a beloved one is ripped away too soon.  This is not the case with this entry as we spotlight the tale of a ‘Country’ music legend and his wife who made it into their 70s long after many people in this article would have made it. Their love story highlights how past mistakes can linger, creating long-lasting sorrow, but also long-lasting happiness once it’s conquered. Unlike Robert Plant, who reshaped his life almost immediately after giving up drugs, this couple took much longer to evade their demons. Unlike Kurt Cobain, who tragically took his own life, this pair survived, finding solace and companionship in each other until June passed away in 2003 at the age of 73, a few years after her husband’s last relapse. To the outside world, June was a respected, active adult, performing and working side by side with her husband until her last breath. Behind the scenes, she was a caregiver to her almost lifelong addict husband who cleaned up just in time to give his wife a few years of happiness. Johnny followed his wife’s footsteps months later dying at the age of 71 that same year, depriving the world of a celebrated artist who beautifully blended country, rock, and folk for over half a century. Their story stands as a testament to the heartbreaking truth that one can indeed lose the will to live because of overwhelming grief, or a broken heart. Most artists can claim their biggest music contribution in their teens, twenties, and possibly thirties, but Johnny Cash’s greatest achievement in Music came just before his death, 5 decades after he first achieved success.  In 2002, a year before his passing, he released a cover of a Nine-Inch Nails song about addiction that was so perfectly done, it almost felt like it was his life’s biography in song and even an apology to his wife. There can be no better way to leave a mark on this world as your life nears the end than this classic. You just have to watch the video to understand. Just like in classic western movies, Johnny went out in a blaze of glory, as did his wife, June. I’m sure most of us would love to do that.

Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash

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Princess Diana reimagined alive as a Disney Princess at her son Williams wedding

Why does the death of Lady Diana still impact the world each year on the anniversary of her death? It’s been close to 30 years since the first wife of England’s future King passed away. What’s even more telling is that another global figure passed away that same week, Mother Teresa, for whom few shed a tear today. Some might question the continued reverence for monarchy in our modern age, but there’s no denying the emotional resonance of this tragedy.

Picture this – young girls across the globe playing tea party, captivated by the princess’s magical fairy tale. Then, imagine the shock wave of disbelief that surged when news of her heart-rending car crash in Paris reached our shores.  True, this writer couldn’t feel quite the same pangs of melancholy that swept many off their feet. Yet, with every name on this list, and the anguish of celebrity deaths, there came an undeniable twinge of empathy. And who felt it most keenly? Her son, Prince Harry, who was but a young lad of 12. Despite enduring a high-profile parental divorce, nothing prepares a child for the crushing grief of a mother’s untimely passing, especially a public one. It starkly reminded us that despite royal protocol or worldly preparations, there’s no handbook to navigate through such profound loss.  It’s difficult to find unique words to describe circumstances such as these, so instead, I direct you to Sir Elton John’s heartfelt rendition of a song originally dedicated to another beloved figure, who, tragically, also met an untimely end.

Prince Harry, Lady Diana

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FHE Health (Cobain and Love), MTV (Cobain and Love), CNN, Rolling Stone, CheatSheet.com (Aaliyah and Damon Dash), UniLad.com, Stylist (Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Syme), BBC (2Pac and Jada Pinkett Smith), Unilad (2Pac and Jada Pinkett Smith), Far Out Magazine (Robert Plant and Karac Plant), Far Out Magazine (Robert Plant and Karac Plant), Country Now (Johnny and June Carter Cash), FHE Health (Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash), People (Prince Harry and Lady Diana) 

All images are AI-generated using Fotor and are not meant to describe the subject matter they portray factually, but figuratively.

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