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fzald

Things people say (and why they don't help)

12 posts in this topic

"She's in a better place."

Really? This "other place" is so wonderful? So you're saying THIS place, the one I'm now expected to live in, deal with, be lonely in, ISN'T a good place? It's "less good" than where she is? 

What did she do to "earn the right" to travel to this other place? She was too young to die and died so suddenly. At her age, she's not going to have many people she's close to on the other side. How can that place be "better" without me, her family, her closest friends?

"She would want you to <insert some action here>."

She would want to be alive. Plain and simple. She didn't have any plans to die. She had no plans to leave this world, no matter what anyone says. You don't promise to see someone in a week if you plan to die during that week. She didn't do anything that would cause death. No suicide attempts. Just going about her day. Passed out and died basically. 

Maybe she would want me to do whatever. But she'd much rather be here doing it with me. I can't even show her if I do something she would have wanted. I'm supposed to do it and then just feel good knowing she "would have" liked it? I want her to KNOW if I do something for her, like she always did in life. I want to share the rewards of my, and her, and our, labors. I want to make OUR dreams come true and then live out the rewards TOGETHER. How is living out her dream alone supposed to be comforting? It's even more of a reminder that she is gone forever.

"She found the way home." 

She wasn't LOOKING for the way home!

This might be helpful if someone was terminally ill, in pain, suffering, and waiting to die. It might be comforting to those who watched their loved ones in agony. You can take comfort in the fact that they're not suffering anymore. My girl was NOT suffering. She had headaches, but that's not suffering on the level I'm talking about. If a pill can alleviate your pain, the suffering isn't too great. 

So I'm supposed to be comforted that she apparently was looking for this path home, found it, and said "Bye y'all!" to the world and everyone and everything in it she loved? 

No way.

"Be strong. Stay busy."

That's just someone else not wanting to have to see me grieve. I appreciate their desire to take my pain from me, but that isn't going to work. Keeping busy is just a mask, a band-aid over a profusely bleeding wound. In the end everything I do now is done in a dark cloud of sadness. I might be able to function enough to get a few things done. But my heart is not in anything. I am completely oblivious to the world and its plights now. I am stuck in a sea of grief with no compass, no canoe, no paddle, not even a life vest. 

So telling me to stay strong is like telling the Titanic victims to stay strong, you know, help is on the way, just stay strong and you'll live in that 28 degree water. Keep busy, I dunno what, play cards? Chit chat? Talk about your families? Somehow that's going to save everyone's life and make it all OK. 

"Life goes on."

True statement, but it doesn't mean I have to be OK with it, or that it's going to bring me any comfort.

Life was SUPPOSED to go on for her. She was SUPPOSED to be sharing this life with me. This seems to come from people who think I've grieved long enough and it's time to just be OK, to bring my old self back who used to be so upbeat and cheerful when my love was alive. I will never again be able to be exactly the same person. Not without her. Even with her of course I would have evolved, but my evolution is now going to take a totally different turn. If you want me to go back to the way I was when she was alive, you'd better figure out how to resurrect the dead. Because that's the only way that would happen.

"She finished her work here on this planet."

Really? Then why didn't she know that? Why was she planning to do so much more in this world? Why was she still talking until the very end about ways she could make the world a better place? The very last conversation I had with her was about a meeting at work, the purpose of the meeting was a new project, that she was extremely excited to be a part of, and our project was something that could make a huge difference in the world. So her contributions there weren't needed, I suppose? The world didn't need any more from her, so just chuck her away, flick her off like a housefly on a horse's back? What, once our "work" is done, we die, regardless of what we might still have within us to offer?

And what, does that also mean my work ISN'T done? I've done a lot of things to help the world too. Guess those things aren't good enough? Someday though I will "appease" the world, and then I can just expect to die randomly and tragically too? 

It goes back to that idea that there's a reward for doing good work. So I guess I haven't done good enough. I loved someone to their core and gave them everything I had to offer. Guess that wasn't enough. Because only those who are "good enough" get to die and go to this "better place". Me? I am supposed to stay in this horrible place alone, without the one I love, because what, I haven't done good enough yet...

"God needed her in Heaven."

I've talked about that one before. I don't believe God "takes" people from this planet. What kind of God would that be? "Oh, YOU seem like just what I need. Come with me! Leave the world behind! Screw your friends and family and everyone who will be hurting, Maybe I can help them with their pain but, you know, maybe I could not even cause them pain in the first place? Nah, I want you in Heaven. They'll deal with it."

God, or whatever supreme being does exist, may be able to comfort us, watch over us, all that. But I do not believe that any being has ultimate control over everything. That's too much. There's over 7 billion people in this world, you're going to tell me that on January 28th, God looked around and saw my girl and said "Ah, yes, YOU'RE the one." Nope.

Maybe God can help give us comfort, and I like to believe God hurts for us as much as we hurt. He's supposed to be a protector, a guide, all of that. Not a source of pain and agony. Not the cause of our pain.

"You can't keep being upset about it. You have to move on."

I have only one thing to say to that. You try losing someone you love dearly. You try losing someone tragically, suddenly, for no good reason. You try going on with YOUR life and moving on. See how hard it is for you.

Oh, you're able to cope well? Good for you. But I'm not you. Grief is different for everyone. 

"I totally know how you feel, I lost my dog/cat/great-grandmother/<anything other than soulmate or maybe child>"

It's not the same. Trying to compare my loss with loss of your cat? I don't doubt that losing your pet, elderly family member, whatever, was hard. But losing someone to sudden death at a young age is tragic. It leaves so many open wounds, unanswered questions, unknowns. Don't try to compare my grief to yours. I'm sure it was hard for you. But this is hard for ME. I'm fine with you sharing your feelings of grief, but don't COMPARE my grief to yours and try to say that my grief is the same as yours. 

"You will meet someone else. You're young."

I lost her two months ago! But even if it were a year later, that's no help. Will I meet someone else? I have no clue. I have no clue about ANYTHING right now. I don't know if my life plan is going to even come close to what it used to be when my love was alive. If I meet someone else, that will even further change my life plan. But I may not. I may not ever, or at least may not for a long long time. It is NO COMFORT To me whatsoever that someday I might date again. I can't think about anyone but her right now. I can't even think about my work, or my daily life, without thinking of her. 

"Do <whatever> in her honor."

This is not bad advice. But it doesn't help me right now. I can't even look at a photo of her without a twisting wrench in my stomach. I can't read any of our conversations without a completely overwhelming feeling of agony. In a way, even being reminded of how alive she was such a short time ago is horrific right now. Maybe trying to numb the pain by distancing myself from what we had is a bad idea, but it's what I have to work with right now. Someday I will do things in her honor, but don't push me towards it. I'm not ready. I still can't function in my day to day life without her, let alone devote so much attention to doing things on her behalf.

"You will never forget her, but you will move on."

Again, this is well-meaning. But I already know that. I don't expect to ever forget her. Until the day I die, she will live in my mind, forever young, forever a lovely young woman who loved me and who I loved. But I'm also not ready to move on. I'm not ready to do anything yet. I am using every ounce of my strength just to wake up in the morning and get my job done. I am using every single resource at my disposal just to eat and keep food down. I am operating at only 10% of my capacity and I know this, and I hate it. But it's what I have to work with right now. 

And now a few of the more insensitive things I've been told "This is why you shouldn't wrap your life around someone else, you should always be able to stand on your own. You should want someone but not need them. The way you're acting shows you needed her and so this is basically on you." Are you kidding me??? It's MY FAULT? If you are able to live your life independent of other people and not care what anyone else thinks, not be emotionally involved with anyone else, GOOD FOR YOU! That's not me, and at our hearts that's not most humans. Our fast-paced, narcissistic society encourages this way of thinking, but it's not our nature. I feel horrible for all the people who never get to experience true soulmate love, a deep connection to someone else. This statement in and of itself is kind of selfish, it's basically saying that if I hadn't given all my love and soul to someone else maybe I'd still be functional enough to give to others what they want. 

"She wasn't all that, she had faults and maybe this is for the best." She did have faults, but how is her DYING for the best? This is the kind of thing you say to someone when they have broken up from a relationship. NOT WHEN SOMEONE DIES. I have faults too, so maybe I should die also. 

"She's just one person, there's 7 billion people in the world, and you're moping over one of those people. Get out there and meet new people!" Again, this comes from people who can go in and out of human relationships like most of us choose our clothes for the day. It means little to no emotional involvement. I have known people who live this way, and they are actually very unhappy on the inside. They try so hard NOT to need people and only need people all the more, but continually tell themselves they're wrong. They berate themselves whenever they feel the need or the urge to connect. They force themselves to stay distant. And then when they're finally alone with their own thoughts, they hurt, they're unhappy, they feel unfulfilled. Then they deal with that by drinking, casual sex, whatever. All in a search for happiness alone. Let me tell you, the only way you will ever truly be happy is to embrace human companionship and see co-dependence as a good, healthy, beneficial thing. 

"Death is natural, it happens, get over it." Someone might have been watching Star Wars or something and heard that Yoda quite from the prequels. "Rejoice for those who have passed, mourn them do not, miss them do not." That sounds awesome, but unfortunately WE DON'T WORK THAT WAY. We do mourn. We do grieve. It hurts like hell. In the context of the movie that's a nice quote, but it's not how it works. 

I might have more of this later on. But that's what I've been thinking about today. At work a lot of people (not my closest friends at work, but people in the halls and such) have been giving me lines like that. And it made me so angry...

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Hello Fzald, In some instances it's been known that people do in fact say such platitudes to make themselves feel better. 

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I think they just want to hear themselves speak. patting themselves on the back too much. sometimes it's best not to talk.
maybe they want to pretend that nothing has changed, that nothing bad happens.
Then they might act hurt if one does not 'appreciate' their 'advice.' laughable
They're not the ones adapting, they have no clue at all.

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fzald,

I'm going to use this with my grief support group today, thank you for sharing that. I've seen lists before that have things people say and how WE feel when we hear it, but no matter how many things we write down, it's never completely exhaustive, there's always more stupid things people can say to us that don't come across well.  I think maybe sometimes people should just shut up and BE THERE or DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE for us if they want to help.

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KayC---It isn't just the insensitive remarks. I've been feeling angry at the non-actions of people who used to be in my life. I sit here at the computer every morning. I can see out the living room windows. I see the neighbors driving by. I see them looking at the house as they drive by. These same people who used to stop by once a week for my endless pots of coffee and chitchat with my husband and I. Is there something wrong with me now? Just because my husband can no longer be here, is my *aura of grief* somehow going to rub off on them? If, by association, am I going to cause a death of a loved one for them? All the people that used to be in my life treat me like I got the plague.

I've made calls to these people in an attempt to keep the connection. I get told, *I haven't had the time to stop in*.

I've been making efforts in getting out. At least a couple times a week. I was out last Friday, Saturday, Sunday and again yesterday. I make the effort to smile, chitchat. I'm trying. I'm trying not to keep myself isolated and from becoming bitter and resentful. It isn't like there is a building in this community advertising *if you need friends, stop in here*.

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really KMB? I didn't know people could be so cold. I would have thought that since you all interacted so much they'd be there for you, perhaps more now...

 

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KMB,

Grief sucks. Pain sucks. Emotional pain sucks the worst of all.

It is sad to me though that your neighbors and friends are deserting you in this time. Some people will "maliciously", or at least selfishly, avoid you because your pain is not something they want to deal with. They may only like being around you when you are happy. Any "time" with you will not be full of jokes, laughter, happiness right now, it will be sad, somber, and lonely. People may choose to avoid you because they don't want to be in that situation, which is actually selfish.

Other people though may just be afraid. People know there's nothing they can say to truly relieve us of any of our grief. People know that they can't fix it for us. It's a helpless feeling for the bystander, to see someone they care about hurting so badly and not being able to do anything about it. Some of us here have experienced that very feeling with our loved one. (I thankfully didn't see my girlfriend suffer at all, and I'm told she didn't suffer, but that still doesn't bring me a ton of comfort.) Other people may be afraid of being so close to death. Talking about death and dealing with it means other people have to think about death, they have to think about what it means, and for some it makes them think of what their life would be like if THEY lost someone close, or it may make them fear their own death. People doing this may not be acting heartlessly, but are acting out of fear. They don't know what to do with the feelings. They can't help you, and they feel fearful of death. To others, this is a no-win situation. 

I've written around this board about our tendency to deny or at least avoid the reality of death. We, those of us stuck in this hell, are in a situation where we have no choice but to face death and its reality. We can no longer pretend death is something that happens to "everyone else". We can no longer pretend that death is a long way off and just choose not to think about it or worry about it. It's too bad that others are unable to be more supportive in the face of this pain. 

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KMB/new133

It doesn't surprise me.  People are strange sometimes and like KMB, my neighbors and 'so called' friends have become ghost.  I've heard the words "if I can do anything, let me know" or "I'm here for you, Charles was a good man and I know he would have wanted me to look in on you"; or better yet, "I'm gonna be checking in on you real soon".    Well, what the hell happened?   I don't see them, don't hear from them; it seems like after Charles' services, they packed up and moved to west hell.    I hate how people say they are going to be there for you when they aren't. Now when I hear those words and I just brush them off.  If they were here for me, they would have been here when I was falling apart.  At first I felt angry and mad.  The same people and 'so called' friends who where the first to show up at our "annual Bar-b-ques' or card parties or "picnics" were no where to be found.

Now, I'm no longer bitter, I've come to realized, fake friends are like our shadows,  they follow you in the sun, but leave your side when it gets dark. Word to the wise, before you count your friends, make sure you can count on them.

 

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Francine---I'm sorry you've experienced what I have. I actually thought it was just me. I feel that maybe it is because our so called neighbors and friends are in the same age bracket and they don't want death to come knocking at their door. But, someday it will. I plan on being there for them when it does happen. God would not want me treating others with indifference.

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KMB,

Nothing surprises me anymore.  I lost every friend I ever had when George died, overnight!  I don't get it either.  I was being facetious when I said I'd put a sign out that said "Open for coffee", I know they still wouldn't stop.  My friends didn't even attend his funeral.  These are people I stood by when they got divorced etc, was THERE for them!  I don't get people at all.  I'm the kind of person to make someone own themselves though so if they want to snub me they have to be pretty damned blatant about it!

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Thanks, KayC. Makes me feel that my husband and I were being used. We are all human but apparently some people have a lack of the wrong emotions, or something.

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Wow.  Much of what you folks have said or are feeling and/or experiencing was like looking in a mirror.....either of myself or my life a few years back.  I get the anger, the hurt, of people saying stupid things...or perhaps worse, not saying anything or disappearing entirely.  Gee thanks, "friend."  Saying stupid things I can get past.  Disappearing or not making at least some attempt to reach out...and by reach out, I don't mean some token effort immediately afterwards so you can feel good about yourself, THEN disappearing...but later on as the months pass......that I don't forgive and don't buy ANY excuse for. 

But as I posted on a similar thread here just now, I would try to keep people's intent in mind when they say stupid things vs focusing on the thing itself as much as possible. 

And I think this says it better than me overall...much of it sounds similar to what the OP said, and many of us have experience to some degree or other.  Maybe they should make something along these lines mandatory reading somehow.

http://griefhelp.webs.com/know-someone-grieving

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