Why Alan Thicke’s Death is Hitting Us All So Hard

By now you’re probably aware that Alan Thicke – the beloved Dr. Jason Seaver on the hit eighties sitcom Growing Pains – passed away yesterday at the age of 69.

And in a year of tragedy and disappointment, this blow seems especially devastating to all of us.

At least, that’s what I’ve witnessed in the past 12 hours in everything from overheard conversations in the elevator, to text messages from childhood friends, to the outpouring of love for Thicke on social media.

Like Robin Williams’ death did a few years back, the passing of our much-loved Growing Pains dad hits the Gen X and Millennial generations particularly hard.

Here’s why Alan Thicke’s death is so rough on all of us:

He Represents a Piece of Our Youth
In our ever-connected world of on-demand everything, there is comfort in the nostalgic memories of a time when school nights were spent with the Seaver family. It was the type of show that everyone seemed to watch back in the day because we could all identify with the range of characters and scenarios. While Mike Seaver offered countless lessons on what not to do, with his sound advice and natural warmth, Dr. Seaver was the type of dad whose reasoning always made sense. To lose him is to literally lose a piece of our childhood (tear).

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He Was the Same Age as Most of Our Parents
Another factor that makes Thicke’s untimely death so devastating is that – in addition to being a father figure to most of us – Thicke was around the same age as most of our parents. He seemed healthy and active and was playing hockey with his 19-year-old son when he had his heart attack. You can’t ignore the chilling feeling in the back of your mind that the same thing could happen to our real-life parents. That reality check is hard to handle, especially during the holidays.

It Reminds Us that We’re Getting Older too
With Thicke’s death, we’re not only forced to consider the mortality of our own parents, it also reminds us that we’re not exactly the wide-eyed kids we once were ourselves when Growing Pains was a household staple. In fact, the show’s last episode aired almost 25 years ago, on April 25, 1992. Crazy, right? While getting older comes with countless positives, there’s also something sad in knowing that those simple days of our youth really are a thing of the past.

alan thicke

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

He Was a Canadian Success Story
Not that we wouldn’t care as much if he was American, but the fact that Thicke was Canadian makes it hit home a little harder. The hockey-loving Thicke – a Kirkland Lake, Ont. native – was a huge role model at a time when very few Canadians achieved mass fame south of the border. Thicke got his start on Canadian television before heading off to try and make it in Hollywood. Similar to the likes of Michael J. Fox, he was someone we could brag about (and an inspiration to young Canadian actors as well, no doubt).

In addition to all of this, Thicke has always been known and will now be remembered as being a genuinely good guy, something that’s often a rarity when it comes to famous faces.

In his last Instagram post, Thicke thanks the Whistler Film Festival for the Icon Award. “I promise to try to stay iconic,” he writes.

And it’s safe to say that he will.

Now that you’re probably just as teary-eyed as all of us over here, we will leave you with a little nostalgia that may offer some comfort:

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