It’s been an excruciating year for Robert Buchel’s fiancée Kathryn Lemanski. The My 600 Lb Life cast member’s shocking death has taken a toll that Kathryn can hardly put into words, she told Starcasm exclusively.
Robert Buchel was the first My 600 Lb Life cast member to die during filming
Viewers were stunned by Robert’s sudden passing, which came at the end of what had been a largely hopeful episode of My 600 Lb Life. Robert, 41, was among the heaviest participants ever featured on the show, but managed to drop a considerable portion of his peak weight. Though he began the episode weighing 842 pounds, Robert reached a low of 502 pounds following a successful lymphedema surgery.
But the consequences of Robert’s surgery would prove fatal. He was left depressed and addicted to pain medication, and a stint in rehab unfortunately did not help. Robert died of a heart attack on November 15, 2017.
Robert’s My 600 Lb Life episode aired this past March, and an outpouring of disbelief and grief followed. What many viewers overlooked or failed to recognize, though, was that Robert Buchel’s fiancée Kathryn (as well as Robert’s extended family and friends) had already been struggling to deal with his death for months.
Kathryn Lemanski, Robert Buchel’s fiancée, is still picking up the pieces
In fact, as Kathryn explained at the time, part of her struggle came from thousands of dollars in unpaid medical and funeral bills, as well as personal loans from her and Robert’s parents. There was some misguided criticism regarding a GoFundMe that a friend of Kathryn’s had set up in Robert’s name: fans were left wondering if it was a scam, leaving Kathryn to take to social media to explain that the fundraiser was, in fact legit.
But it took a considerable amount time for the GoFundMe’s $6,000 goal to be met. (In fact, though Robert passed almost a year ago and his episode aired seven months ago, it looks like the goal was only reached recently.)
We reached out to Kathryn to see how she’s been and ask whether the money helped relieve some of the stress of the past year. Although her debt to Robert’s mother is paid, Kathryn told us her remaining bills are only part of the problem: Robert’s, like any death, left a complicated emotional and practical fallout.
“I’m dealing,” Kathryn said. “I’ve had health issues including heart surgery which I will have again in December.” Kathryn added that she’s “still struggling bills-wise” (and, as Kathryn told us the last time we spoke with her, she had to borrow a considerable amount of money from her mother to help finance the move to Texas, plus Robert’s funeral expenses).
“I’ve cracked under the pressure”
Most agonizing of all has been the amount — and variety — of negative responses Kathryn’s received since Robert’s episode aired. Robert Buchel’s fiancée told us the week of Robert’s episode alone, she got “over 1000 private messages” on Facebook. While many were sympathetic, a disturbing number were not. And they came in a disturbing variety:
I’ve cracked under the pressure so I’ve been struggling with anxiety as well especially with some of the things I was sent or things that were said to me….In the first few weeks after the show aired I received more d!ck pics and jerking off videos than the p0rn industry. Ive been called a murderer by many. A loser. I’ve begun told I’m just as disgusting as [Robert] was.
“I answer every single one of [the messages],” Kathryn went on, “including the murder messages.” She ignored only the obscene messages.
There have been a couple of positive notes. Kathryn said she has had “more good than bad” notes of support from My 600 Lb Life‘s viewers. She revealed that she’s started graduate school, as well as a new job. And she said that some of the My 600 Lb Life cast members have “reached out trying to be supportive,” but acknowledged that “it’s awkward.”
“It’s such a different situation,” Kathryn told us. “They’re very supportive of each other in their [weight] loss journey but with me there’s not much to say. [Robert is] gone and his journey ended.”
(Photo credits: Robert Buchel’s fiancée via Facebook)
John Sharp is a Starcasm’s chief editorial correspondent-at-large. Tips: E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or send on Twitter at @john_starcasm.