After recently re-discovering a favourite blog/book/film^ titled, “$#*! my dad says,” I decided to compile the top five shitty things that people say to ‘young’ widow/ers. Speaking from personal experience.
I use the term young, because I consider anyone who loses their spouse under the age of say, 60 and not from natural causes, to me, is young, because it’s too early.
People say shitty things most often by accident and simply because they don’t know what to say. They just try to fill an awkward silence with a platitude before said widow/er starts crying, whilst hoping a tsunami appears to distract attention from the difficult conversation taking place. It’s understandable, it feels super awkward, we all get it and have probably been there, regardless of whether the topic is death, miscarriage, divorce, etc.
This isn’t an angry crack at anyone who ever tried to say something to comfort me and got it wrong. I compiled this list because, in the blackest humour surrounding death that we all must adopt else we’d go mad, it’s pretty damn funny.
Here goes. In reverse order:
Number 5: “God/Life doesn’t give you more than you are capable of dealing with”
Hearing this when you are struggling to cope with breathing and sleeping and dressing yourself is a kick in the guys you don’t need. I’d rather they said nothing and gave me a hug. I can’t be comforted from a religious angle because I’m an atheist, but I respect people’s beliefs and that it gives them comfort. At the time this platitude was spoken, and ever since, I was questioning the existence of any order in the universe and most widow/ers will continue to do so for some time. I wasn’t capable, or coping. I was just surviving.
Number 4: “You’re still young / There’s still time / You’ll meet someone else”
Come on, s/he has literally JUST died. Do you really think that’s going to comfort us right now? We physically ache for the touch of our beloved. There is noone else that will ever replace them.
Number 3: “At least, he died doing what he loved”
I’m pretty sure we’d both rather that he hadn’t died at all?
“At least, you had found each other… At least, you got to say goodbye… At least, he didn’t suffer…”
Any platitudes starting with, “At least…” just never end well. Ever.
Number 2: “I know what you’re going through; when my <goldfish/cat/dog> died….” cue recounting of a life story
The guy who you’ve never met but who adored/ worshipped your husband tells me that he was the ultimate gentleman and a true good soul, except definitely not in less than 100 words.
Me: “Thank you for your kind words. Yes, that’s why I married him.”
He’s still going; praise, adoration, now a lecture about what it feels like to find your soul mate and how you finally feel whole in the universe. How his family struggled after their dog died and it was the darkest moment of his life and then he met his soul mate and got married and they accidentally fell pregnant. How sweet life is now!
Man: “Did you have children?”
Me: “No, we hadn’t got there yet.”
Man: “Well don’t worry, you still have time.”
Are you $hitting me, dude, seriously?
“It could be worse, you could be divorced”
“Divorce is harder cos the person left you/cheated on you/failed to make your marriage work.”
Ummmm, but he’s dead.
“Yes, but he never CHOSE to leave you so you don’t have to get over that rejection as well as losing a husband. I would much rather my husband had died than divorce me.”
I have no more words for that one.
^ $#*! my dad says, by Justin Halpern, is an hilarious, no-holds-barred recount of a father’s wisdom by his son that I highly recommend.