Two celebrities who were admired by many.
Two celebrities who “had it all,” so-to-speak.
And two celebrities who hung themselves within days of one another.
Spade was 55. Bourdain was 61.
This is hard, friends. This is really hard. For any who have lost a family member, friend, or loved one to suicide, you know the grievous struggle it is to attempt to make sense of it all. It doesn’t make any sense.
And yet, when they are gone, our love for them does not end. We hurt because we love them… so we find ourselves seemingly endlessly racking our heads and our hearts in the middle of our grief in desperate search for solution — for any solution…
Why would someone we love choose this?
Why would they intentionally end their life?
I wish I had some profound, good answer… an answer that could somehow smooth over the wretched remnants we’re left to deal with. I keep thinking of actor Booboo Stewart’s character in the excellent “Hope Bridge” movie (released in 2015) — in the young man’s quest to find answers and understand why his father took his own life. The answers are so hard to come by. Again, it doesn’t make any sense.
With Spade and Bourdain in particular, no less, I find myself wrestling with two questions…
Let us first acknowledge the response of Bourdain’s mother, in an interview with NBC News. Gladys Bourdain, a former editor at The New York Times, said that there was never any sign that anything was wrong with her son.
Let me repeat that: there was never any sign.
As we rack our heads searching for answers, we look for those signs… what did I miss? … why didn’t I catch this?… And then we often settle on the thought of mental illness, as our search ends in unsettling ambiguity.
I wonder if there are deeper questions we could be asking — questions about loneliness… self-worth… and fulfillment.
We see in Spade and Bourdain, for example, two people who had it all…
Spade was a world renown fashion designer. She founded the euphonious “Kate Spade New York” in the early 90’s and came to be known as an incredibly creative, successful, and sophisticated businesswoman. She had been married approximately 24 years and has an adolescent daughter. Her net worth is estimated to be around $150 million.
Bourdain — a celebrity chef — “built a business outside the kitchen,” coined Town & Country. He was a successful author, travel documentarian, and TV personality, and he was considered articulate, insightful, and keenly influential. The Smithsonian Institution once declared Bourdain as “the original rock star” of the culinary world. He has one adolescent daughter, and leaves an estimated net worth of $16 million.
Both Spade and Bourdain seem to have “had it all,” as one might say, and yet for both, “all” was not enough.
This is heartbreaking, friends; there is zero judgment. There was an emptiness in Spade and Bourdain that celebrity and success could seemingly never fulfill; wealth and influence were nowhere close to enough. Hence, left with more questions than answers, today I ponder only two:
What are we pursuing that is potentially unfulfilling?
And what can we fill our heads and hearts with that is of greater, lasting value?