Death Should Not Be Used as a Cautionary Tale

It is hard to believe that I still have a small amount of faith in the goodness of people. The truth is that I have seen enough, personally and otherwise that I should know better than to expect people to have the same amount of regard for another person’s life.

On Tuesday, March 1st 2011 Blair River, the spokesperson of the ‘Heart Attack Grille’ died from flu complications. What has happened since his death is something that I cannot just shake my head at. I want to slap sense into people who feel that his death should be mocked or laughed at. This has nothing to do with his job or the restaurant itself, what the restaurant stood for is not who he is a person, and his death shouldn’t be turned into some sort of cautionary tale on how a person should live their life.

The restaurant that he worked for does indeed have a questionable message, but that doesn’t mean that was his message or what he believed. The biggest issue I am having is that people are skipping over the very simple fact that if he didn’t get the flu, he would be alive.

But people don’t want that answer, they don’t want to think that a person who was 6’8 and 575 pounds could have just had bad luck when it came to getting sick. They want to distance themselves from his death as much as possible. They want to find the reason he died so that they can do whatever is necessary to not have it happen to them. Unfortunately this time you will have to not catch the flu or pneumonia.

To step back from it all watching people spew such venom when you call them out on making insensitive and hateful comments about someone who has died is shocking. To act as though it isn’t hateful, because you can tell from an article on the internet that you have all of the facts, is making yourself look purposefully ignorant.

Mocking someone after their death is vile, no matter how you look at it.

In the end anyone could be Blair River, and we should remember that. Death isn’t something that you can just pretend you are exempt from because you are thin.


4 thoughts on “Death Should Not Be Used as a Cautionary Tale

  1. Thanks for addressing this. I read about it, and it killed me. Everyone who knew him sung his praises, it was the morons who wanted to keep death at bay (it’s something that only happens to unhealthy people! Right? RIGHT?) that made some stupid comments.
    That’s how it seems to go, if you are part of a marginalized group. But it was nice to read how everyone close to him remembered him so fondly-and that’s really what matters.

  2. People are so dim. I wonder if they’d blame Jim Henson’s weight, since he died of the same thing … or my friend Sherry, aged 29, who had flu symptoms and was dropped off by her mother at the emergency room. She told her mom she’d call her in an hour. A half hour later, her mother was called by the emergency room — Sherry had died. She was slender, young and, by anyone’s definition, healthy. She died of the same thing this young man did.

    We so want to believe we have total control and it’s those “out of control” people who have to worry.

  3. I too thought of Jim Henson. It just sad that a man who was a real person to many people has died.

    I do find the restaurant’s theme disconcerting. Maybe it is just me. My dad lived with a serious heart condition much of his life and chose to use diet (types of food rather than amount) exercise and medication rather than surgery to address it. He was of average weight but was too thin in the last few years of his life. People who think they are healthy based on what the scale says are seriously mistaken as to what heart disease is. There are many causes of heart disease including stress. Does anyone ever think that all the harassment and hatred aimed at fat people doesn’t create enormous amounts of stress? Of course not, let’s just blame the victim and smugly congratulate our thin selves.

    I did not read the hateful comments but I am sure I know what they were like. I also suspect that many fat-haters, especially those anonymous ones on the internet, are fat themselves. Maybe not extremely obese but fat none the less. I have tried explaining FA and HAES to people who are close to me when I see them suffering from body hate from within themselves and the world in general. I have been shot down by these people. I just don’t understand why.

    Where is human decency? Making fun of a dead person?

    I too have faith of the goodness of people based on many personal experiences. Anonymous internet cranks give us the opportunity to see people at their nastiest.

    Thanks for this post. I hope Mr. Rivers’ friends and family don’t read the hate. It is hard enough to loose a friend or a loved one but unimaginable to have that same person mocked.

    I also thought this was interesting that the grill’s owner once owned a Jenny Craig franchise. He saw the futility of dieting and fat shaming.

    • I do agree about the restaurant, they are perpetuating the stereotype of fat people’s eating habits to the extreme. I am not ok with that, but the best response I can think of is the quote “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

      I think people are just scared of death, so they are trying to explain away why they are not going to end up like certain people. This often just comes out in hateful ways and from my own experience they freak out when you call them on it.

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