Drop-Dead Famous

Death is a universal rite of passage, but, with a single exception, it always happens to someone else. In understanding death we need to turn our gaze to those around us. This was easy when death was a feature of daily life, as it has been for most of human history: on the street, the gallows, or, if at home, among the extended family. But nowadays, in the West, mortality has withdrawn to the private, sanitized space of the hospital ward, and has become all too easy to ignore. Or it would be, if the famous were not there to ensure death stayed squarely in the public eye.

Celebrities have long offered lessons

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