Suzanne Somers' death has devastated fans. It's OK to grieve.

Suzanne Somers has died at the age of 76, and the loss has been felt among fans around the world.

"Devastated to hear about the passing of Suzanne Somers," @marc_k011 wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. "A true icon and overall amazing human being."

"I'm truthfully devastated with the death of Suzanne Somers. She was a great actress, but had a deeper heart in life," @MichaelKerner20 wrote. "She was a sweetheart!!!"

Grief is different for everyone, and experts say mourning someone you didn't personally know − a phenomenon called collective or public grief − is a complicated, yet valid, experience.

"Collective and public grief, as I call it, is always unique in how we attach," David Kessler, grief expert and founder of, previously told USA TODAY.

Suzanne Somers has died at the age of 76, and her shocking loss has been felt among fans around the world.
Suzanne Somers has died at the age of 76, and her shocking loss has been felt among fans around the world.

This form of grief can be further compounded when the death of a beloved public figure is read about unexpectedly in the news.

"When people experience sudden loss, they may feel shocked, disbelief, confused, and even in denial," Shavonne Moore-Lobban, licensed psychologist, previously told USA TODAY. "The suddenness of the loss may be too much to process and feel too unreal for a person to immediately grasp."

More: Suzanne Somers, star of 'Three's Company' and 'Step by Step,' dead at 76

Why we get attached to strangers

Somers' longtime publicist, R. Couri Hay, shared a statement on behalf of the actress' family with the news Sunday. The actress, who "survived an aggressive form" of breast cancer for over 23 years, "passed away peacefully at home in the early morning hours" on Sunday," the statement read.

"Sudden loss can be more shocking and people can feel less 'prepared' than they might with expected loss," Moore-Lobban added. "However, it is still hard to prepare for anything that is life-altering, whether a person knew it was coming."

More: The Titanic submersible passengers have died. It's OK to grieve.

Many have parasocial relationships with those in the public eye, be it celebrities, politicians, news anchors. You feel close to them like they're your friend or relative.

Just because collective or public grief doesn't match how one might grieve someone close to them, that doesn't make the experience any less real.

"It's a fascinating thing that people don't realize we really can grieve people we didn't know," Kessler added. "And it doesn't mean we're going to grieve them like our spouse or mother, father, or sister or child, but we will grieve them."

More: Lisa Marie Presley, Grant Wahl, Stephen 'tWitch' Boss and the trauma of a sudden death

How to help someone who may be grieving

If you're trying to comfort someone going through loss, don't try to minimize it or put a timetable to the grieving process.

"There is no limit to grief and because it is a cycle or process, it will continue as long as it needs to for the person who is experiencing it," Moore-Lobban said.

If you're going through loss yourself, talk about it. This "might mean acknowledging it and being open with someone you trust, about how you are feeling," Moore-Lobban said. "It might also include engaging in therapy with a mental health provider, which can be individual or group therapy. Talking about it can also occur by writing, meaning a person can journal about how they feel and what they are thinking."

The deaths of public figures may also serve as opportunities to widen discussions on grief.

"We have a relationship with death that we don't quite know how to explore as a society," Kessler said. "I always tell people the death rate is 100%. So we know we're all going to die someday, intellectually, but we don't know, is death the great enemy? Is it the great comforter, when we're in pain? We sort of don't know how to hold it."

Suzanne Somers dies at 76: Barry Manilow, Viola Davis, Khloe Kardashian mourn 'Step by Step' actress

Contributing: David Oliver and Pamela Avila

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Suzanne Somers' death shocks fans. What is public, collective grief?