Don’t say these things

Maybe you’ve heard me say it before, but when Paul died people said some pretty stupid things to me. And maybe you’ve also heard me mention that I started writing them down because I found it to be therapeutic. And maybe you’ve also heard me promise that I’d share that list. And today’s that day. Yay!!

But first, here’s a look at the fairy garden that you first saw a week ago. It’s really growing fast, huh?

OK, back to the list. I feel the need to give a couple of disclaimers before you can read it.

The first is that this list will either make you cry or make you laugh. If it makes you cry, I am sorry. If it makes you laugh, then welcome to my morbid little world. (They say widowhood gives you a twisted sense of humour. I think that’s true.)

My second disclaimer is that, whilst a couple of the people making these comments were actually extremely rude in their entire behaviour toward me, most of the comments were made by people who (I think) were just trying to be nice. I honestly believe that they thought they were sharing “soothing” words of wisdom with me and didn’t understand that platitudes suck. (I never knew that before, either.)

[These were all said within the first six months of my husband dying at which point I stopped adding to the list.]

  • Do you think if you did CPR better he would have lived?
  • How long are you going to wear his wedding ring? It’s kind of creepy.
  • Do you really think red nail polish is appropriate?
  • We’ll have you back on the dating scene in no time! (One month out)
  • When do you think you’ll start dating again? (One month out; a different person than the first)
  • Let me know when you’re ready to date because I know a couple of guys who would like to meet you. (Two months out; again, different person – my potential dating life is still a big deal to people especially now that I’m nearly two years out!)
  • Oh, I didn’t think you’d be going out in public so soon. (2.5 months out)
  • I guess your luck finally ran out.
  • At least you’re young and can start over.
  • At least you didn’t have kids.
  • You’re lucky that probably won’t be having kids now!
  • I know just what you’re going through. I got divorced a couple of years ago – only I wish my ex was dead!
  • I know how hard grief is, when my cat died it took me months to get over it.
  • In a year’s time it will all be like a bad dream and you’ll be ready to move on.
  • Wow, you must really be sad then, huh?
  • Was there anything you could have done to save him?
  • Do you think it’s your fault that he died?
  • Maybe if you stayed in Scotland he would still be alive, you know because they have free health care.
  • I guess all that healthy eating and exercise was in vain.
  • I would be a lot more upset than you seem to be if it was my husband.
  • I can’t believe that you’re going back to work. I would be too upset to even get out of bed.
  • You weren’t married too long so it will be easier to get over it.
  • Will you be selling your wedding rings?
  • Think of it this way, you’ll get to have the excitement of a first kiss again!
  • Since you did CPR, at least you got to give him lots of kisses before he died.
  • This is going to make you a stronger person.
  • Do you think you’ll be alone for the rest of your life now?
  • Maybe if you lived in a big city he would have lived.
  • Hey, at least you can eat meat now!
  • Maybe you need antidepressants because you shouldn’t still be crying after a month.
  • Well, at least widowhood is a good weight loss plan.
  • It’s time to cowgirl-up. We all have issues we’re dealing with.

9 Replies to “Don’t say these things”

  1. wow. I’m sure that some things were said out of misguided efforts to be nice. But mostly, just, wow.
    You are a better woman than me. I think I would have slapped a few people.

  2. Are you freakin’ kidding me? How thoughtless of those people! I’m with Amy…how did you keep from slapping them?
    Seriously, though….just when I thought I heard everything. I’m sorry people said those things to you.

  3. sometimes people just don’t know what to say and then say something in an effort to fill the empty space. so i’m hoping that most of (if not all) the people who said those things have been inwardly kicking themselves for their words.
    some of the comments are just plain cruel.
    there’s no excuse for that.
    i wish people would learn that it’s perfectly OK to admit to not knowing what someone is going through and to say something simple like, i feel for you, or express how unhappy they feel that you are unhappy and that they care for you regardless, rather than try to problem-solve or cheer up or whatever. i know when i’ve been down, the biggest support has been when someone has acknowledged the distress i’m in rather than offering quick fixes or distractions. unless they have personally been there, done that, they very often cannot offer anything more.

  4. Dear Fran,
    I believe you can imagine how furious I became after reading those senseless and so uncalled comments. Were those people brain-dead? Do they have a human heart beating inside their chests. What a bunch of ignorants and insensitive beings!!!
    Fran, you have a great family on your side who love you so much, and definitely you don’t need “friends” like those people capable of “vomiting” such horrible remarks.
    You are bright and very intelligent enough to make your own mind and decisions at your own time frame, without that type of “helpful” advices.
    If I was the one getting those comments, I would be for sure in jail for slapping those people around besides cussing them up &down.
    May God bless you always, by keeping you away from those @@@%%**

  5. Thanks guys! Sadly, some of these things were said by family and [formerly close] friends. And, sadly, after I stopped logging comments they kept coming. Most recently was yesterday–which is what prompted me to finally share the list.
    When I think about the individuals who made the comments, sometimes I can see how they actually meant to be rude but other times I could see how the speaker was trying to inject humour out of their own inability to cope with a ‘broken Frances’. Still–they are all full-grown adults (most raising children) who should know better.
    It sort of reminds me of the 28 years prior to meeting Paul when I got horrible comments on my singlehood like: “What’s wrong with you that guys don’t want to marry you?” or “You know it’s OK to come out of the closet” (Because, obviously, I was single because I was harbouring lesbian tendencies I guess!)
    And, since I’ve shared some of the worst things people said in those early months, I’ll share one of the best–which was said in an email by one of Paul’s very good University friends who lives in London: “I can’t imagine how you are feeling, and nothing I can say really matters a damn.” And then he went on to talk about how much he loved Paul and how his thoughts are with me. I’ll tell you what–those were some of the most meaningful words I heard after Paul died!!

  6. I cannot beliiiiiiiieve what I just read – the list of things people said to you – it shocked me!!! I just hope I’m not someone who’s ever said anything like that to people – it’s ridiculous!
    All the more strength to you for putting up with it! xxx

  7. I stumbled across your previous blog & just had to comment.
    “. . . It sort of reminds me of the 28 years prior to meeting Paul when I got horrible comments on my singlehood like: “What’s wrong with you that guys don’t want to marry you?” or “You know it’s OK to come out of the closet” (Because, obviously, I was single because I was harboring lesbian tendencies I guess!). . .”
    You had me in absolute STITCHES when I read this one. I actually had an uncle tell me that I should maybe try to “switch teams, because playing for the ‘straight team’ was obviously not working out for me.” All while he sat scratching his gigantic belly & farting. This man passing judgement without even beginning to know my dating history (or lack thereof).
    I cannot begin to imagine what you must have went thru. To say “I’m sorry” just couldn’t even begin to express it properly. I can’t imagine what people must be thinking. I’ve definitely inserted my foot (both feet rather) in my mouth, but that is ridiculous.

    1. Thanks, Jax! It is funny how people just assume that being single past a certain age must mean that you’re gay. Sadly (and in a way, funnily) there are light rumblings about the topic again. You know, since it’s been more than two years since Paul died and I still haven’t gone out on a date. [Enter exasperated eye roll here.]
      As for things to say–‘I’m sorry’ is always a safe bet. That, and just being there for someone. I’m sure I’ve said the wrong things, too, but I’d like to think (or at least, I truly hope) that I didn’t sound as bad as some of these remarks.

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