Bobbi Kristina Brown will be buried Monday alongside her mom, Whitney Houston, at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, N.J. The circumstances of their deaths are so similar, it almost seems as if they died together.
Both mother and daughter died after being found unresponsive in a bathtub. Whitney died of a drug overdose, and reports indicate drugs were also involved in Bobbi Kristina’s death, though it is still being investigated.
But this isn’t the first example where a celebrity parent and child have died under similar circumstances.
Anna Nicole Smith’s son Daniel died in 2006 at the age of 20 after overdosing on a combination of prescription pills and Methadone, which he had allegedly stolen from his mother. Five months later, Anna Nicole Smith also died from a drug overdose.
Peaches Geldorf was the daughter of Live Aid founder and musician Bob Geldorf and British TV presenter and writer Paula Yates. Yates died in 2000 of a heroin overdose. Her daughter died in 2014 — of a heroin overdose.
So what’s behind the eerie pattern? According to experts, two things are to blame — addiction and grief — and it’s the way they work in tandem that can ruin a family.
“In the rehab world we often say ‘it’s a family disease,’ meaning the ripple effect impacts the entire family system, but it also means that many family members get caught in the web — and addiction has long-reaching tentacles,” says Joe Schrank, an interventionist and the founder of the Williamsburg House, a recovery home in Brooklyn, N.Y. “There are certain predictors that can inform the likelihood of addiction. A big one is interruption in experience with a parent, specifically the same sex parent, due to death, divorce and parental alienation or incarceration. Losing a parent is a big deal, especially when someone is young.”
As studies have shown, addiction can run rampant through a family because it’s genetically passed down, and experts say once addiction takes one family member’s life, the survivor’s grief from such a life-altering loss can send the person spiraling, especially if they are already an addict.
“There are many experiences that can fan addictive behaviors, certainly grief and loss among them,” says Schrank.
There is also a bond that begins in utero between a parent and child that causes a specifically paralyzing type of grief if one person loses the other, says Dr. Charles Meusburger, a New Jersey-based psychiatrist.
“If the parent and child maintain a close relationship through the child’s growing years and that relationship is loving, respectful, caring, empathetic and trusting, the bond is intact and deepens,” Meusburger said. “Loss of either one is almost certain to result in grief so overwhelming the other may feel as though life has ended for them as well; certainly from a psychological and emotional perspective. It is a life-altering event so much so, the other may not survive it.”