It would be impossible to not pause and ponder the implications of the deaths of Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Both were cultural icons tied to a specific time in U.S. pop culture. Their death forces us to deal with the passage of time and mortality (theirs and ours). It reminds us that we won’t ever be that age or that person again.
It would be hard to distinguish between people’s reaction to the loss of Fawcett or Jackson as symbols of the time, (not to mention success, beauty, creativity, innovation, and social change) versus what psychologists would call a parasocial attachment (i.e. feeling that they were your friend). Nevertheless, these individuals have created (or are at the center of) metaphors that trigger strong emotional responses for many of us. Love them or hate them, it’s hard to separate icons of this magnitude from the experiences you have concurrently both personally and in society at large.