I don't know about you, but I have Whitney fatigue. Not her music, I will always love that. Just the fact that she was not even cold yet and they, the self appointed judge and jury, started with the speculations on what killed her. Of course, it was all her fault. She was to blame. Fingers were firmly pointed. After all, she was an admitted drug user. Let the slaughter of her character begin.
The same has held true for many young celebrities that have died. Heath Ledger, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, Amy Winehouse. All killed by their own stupidity, or so it would seem. Good gossip fodder. Quite entertaining.
And some would say that they deserve to be talked about. After all, they lived in the public eye, so we have every right to talk. And I guess that is true,
But how about the folks we judge that are not in the public eye. Our neighbors, friends and family members. How quick are we to judge them when they die?
Here is the answer. Very.
I have been around a lot of deaths. And I have heard so many conversations surrounding those deaths. From family members, to friends and even medical professionals that tried their hardest to save the person's life. And they all are quick to do the same thing, judge. And blame.
"I told her to have that lump checked out sooner. If only she would have listened to me,"
"She never followed the treatment protocol. She was non-compliant."
"Did you see how much junk food he would eat? I told him he would kill himself eating all that junk. And he did."
"She didn't have a helmet on. How stupid was that."
"She always drove way too fast."
"I told him to stop smoking years ago."
And on and on it goes. The dead person is always to blame. Except for young kids, the one exception. Then the blame shifts to the parents. But I digress.
We always try to find some way that the dead person is to be blamed for, well, being dead. Come on, you know we all do it. Even when we read about total strangers who died in a car accident, we wonder if they were driving erratically, didn't have a seatbelt on, etc. Then we say, 'tsk, tsk' it was their own damn fault.
Why we do this is easy to understand. We use blame like a talisman. If we can blame them for their own death, then we somehow protect ourselves from death because we would never be quite that stupid.
It is not that we are trying to be disrespectful to the dead. We are not. But everyone fears death and the more we can distance ourselves from it, the safer we feel. And wouldn't that be nice if it were only true.
But we all do stupid things every single day. We do. We have just been lucky so far. Unfortunately, for folks like Whitney, their luck finally ran out. And they suffered the ultimate price.
So, next time you are quick to judge, stop yourself for a moment. And instead of casting blame, think about how lucky you are instead. And be sorry that they are gone and be happy that you are still here, for whatever reason, and let it go at that.
Most of us can read the writing on the wall; we just assume it's addressed to someone else.
A man's dying is more the survivors' affair than his own.
~Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
The death of someone we know always reminds us that we are still alive - perhaps for some purpose which we ought to re-examine.
~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960