Thursday, February 16, 2012

The quick, the dead and the judged.

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.
~Ivern Ball

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


  1. You begin with Whitney fatigue, and end with do not judge; be happy you are alive. Everything in between made me queasy, for little of it is my experience to learn from death.

    I looked at Whitney's Legacy page and comments from folks who never met the gal. What was 9 pages quickly became 620, them 1,139 and I stopped checking.

    Why does someone evoke that much response over, say, a nurse in my local hospital, who holds hands of very worried folks every day?

    I thought of Whitney's drug dealers and the crushing blow this would be on them and their economy. She pulled in $100 million and it is puffed away. The dealers had a golden 1% character here. Same with Amy Winehouse; no longer a buyer. (Her folks gave her a middle name of "Jade"....could that drive one bonkers over time?).

    The sheer volume who wrote to Tiger Woods when his dad died would make you think JFK left again. None of these folks know Tiger, or the dad. Were the father to die today, I suspect most entries would be deleted by Legacy, and those entered would be about 1/10 in number, given the living Tiger's Legacy.

    We ALL die!
    You would think we have this down pat by now.
    But we do not.

    The funeral home ritual is as abysmal to death, as the wedding industry is to marriage. The dignity, holiness, and sacramental value of life is purged in both! (I watched a young guy put his head under the dress of his sitting bride, who smiled away as he maneuvered his head under and between her legs....a private moment for that night and them pull out her garter in his teeth, to toss to folks unknown. And THIS made her feel like a loved bride???

    Another local paper blazed the headlines of Whitney's death.
    A day later, the headline at the same source was bemoaning the fact that everyone was concentrating on her death, yet not one outfit would post the name of soldiers dying in Afghanistan or wherever we are dying now. I could only ponder the hypocrisy of this stance, given their first headline as "Breaking News" 24 hours before.

    My dad cost $6,000 to bury in 1980's.
    Mom died in a few years ago, and it cost $17,000.
    Inflation? Well, the plot was paid, next to dad, the stone paid, and her name on it, and ironically, the etched birthday was also her death day, albeit 4 score and 7 years later. What did we get for an extra $11,000?

    I try to learn lessons from death, to apply to life too.
    But we must hang around different people, for few I know carry the conversations you note between "Whitney fatigue" and "don't glad they croaked and it wasn't your turn".

    Dig deeper for meaning in this death.
    You did not find it so far.

    We need to each embrace life with such gusto daily, that our own death is a sliding into home plate victorious in the score.
    As for any one else's death, well,
    " There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die...."

    The season of silence would be appropriate.

  2. There is no meaning to Whitney Houston's death. And I wasn't searching for any.

  3. My mistake Janice.

    I saw the blog title:
    "What Death Has Taught Me About Life" and gleaned to find the meaning presented.

    I guess since you were not searching for any, there was no finding of meaning. Maybe in the next death.

    Separately, did you travel in Up With People group long ago?
    Your name rings a bell.... she called herself Jan Badger.
    Beautiful redhead.

  4. No, never was with the Up with People group. But I remember them fondly. And I am not a redhead.

    "Up, up with people
    You meet 'em wherever you go
    Up, up with people
    They're the best kind of folks we know
    If more people were for people
    All people everywhere
    There'd be a lot less people to worry about
    And a lot more people who care....."

    So true. But now I will have that song stuck in my head all day......

  5. Do not feel bad.
    I have had that Uppie song in my head all my life, after several years traveling with them.

    Jan Badger was a very gracious young woman, with brilliant, red hair bouncing as she danced,a smile to envy, and a heart as large as a Montana sunset.

    Although I am often in contact with many, Ms. Badger seems to have dropped from our globe. As you recall the song so well, I assure you that one day spent with Jan Badger would have you recalling her in memory for life. Your life is better for having known her.

    Perhaps this will occur twice in my life, with knowing a second Janice Badger (Nelson).

    God bless you abundantly.

  6. Beautifully said.....RIP Whitney.

  7. Bittersweet....memories.....

  8. Some truly great articles here, I enjoy reading them. I only recently joined the Funeral World and it fascinates me how people differ so much and opinions vary so widely.

    I look forward to more interesting reads. x