Why Celebrity Deaths Feel So Personal

I woke up to the news of Anthony Bourdain’s death earlier this month, and I cried into my lap for 10 minutes. In the days that followed, I cried every day just a little bit, watching old clips of Parts Unknown, reading his best quotes, and tracking down a used copy of Kitchen Confidential. And then, I feel a little silly.

I’m not Bourdain’s family, or his friend, or his colleague. I’ve never even met him. I haven’t really earned any sadness over his death. So why am I so upset? Every celebrity death kicks off a round of tributes, of listening to their music or watching their movies all over again with new, ultra-appreciative eyes. There was that particularly brutal streak of 2016 where it felt like we were losing a rock god every day—Prince and David Bowie?!—and this month brought the terrible twin tragedies of Kate Spade and Bourdain’s suicides. You needn’t have bought her purses or watched his show to feel sad about their deaths.

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