Saturday, February 16, 2019

What Not to Say to the Recently Widowed: A Helpful Guide (or, Things That Were Said to Me, Verbatim, by People in the Past Two Weeks)

1. You'll be fine. ("*Things* will be fine," on the other hand, is good stuff).
2. Everyone has problems; you're not the only one.
3. How could the doctors not have caught this earlier?
4. It's your duty as his wife to sit in this receiving line and receive condolences.
5. Get your hair done, and get a nice dress, you'll be meeting very important people at the wake and funeral.
6. Think how *I* feel, I was his mother!
7. You killed him with your nagging ways.
8. He should have known, he was trained in First Aid.
9. What exactly happened? What time? Where were you? Was there any warning? ("How did he die?" is, on the other hand, a completely understandable question.)
10. He was doing a really important job; it's okay that he died so young, he had accomplished so much.
11. We're so glad it turns out he was living up to his potential; he told us he was just a social worker.
12. I bought him a burial plot 2,000 miles away.  I would like him buried there.
13. Don't dress his corpse in jeans and a concert tee.  It's not really appropriate.
14. Where's my free NYPD caps and patches?
15. I want to make a large donation to the NYPD Widows and Orphans Fund in his name.
16. He literally gave his heart to you.

My responses:

1. I'm not fine now.  Whether I'll ever be fine is To Be Determined at a Later Date.
2. There aren't words.
3. That's not helpful.  He's fucking dead. A dead. Fucking. Corpse. In. The. Ground.
4. My only duty is to try to stay out of the psychiatric ward, and try to stay alive for my daughter.
5. Oh really? You don't like my rats nest and flop-sweat-stained sweater? I don't look nice? Damn I thought I was looking fly.
6. You gave your claim up 54 years ago.
7. Life killed him with its nagging ways.
8. It's his fault he died? Or is it my fault? Make up your fucking mind.
9. I will be more than happy to regale you with my ptsd-laserlike recall of every single one of the short minutes of his dying process.  Every single detail.  Every sight, sound, smell.  The timeline. All of it. Text me and we'll chat over a latte.  If you really do want to know.
10. You really are a motherfucker, ain't you.
11. Let me ask you this:  do you actually read that Bible you're always on about? I guess not.  Even my Jewish daughter is versed in Blessed are the Meek yadda fucking yadda.  Social workers in NYC do God's work.  So his mucky muck funeral convinced you he was living up to his potential, but when you thought he was just helping people in a job with Children and Family Services, that wasn't living up to his potential? I'll quote Alex, succinctly: "Get the fuck outta here."
12. Good call.  Take him as far away from me as reasonably possible, as quickly as possible.  And don't forget to put monstrous plastic flowers on his grave every fucking chance you get.
13. Of course not.  That plastic sex doll in a suit was way more dignified.
14. Get the fuck outta here.  Buy your own novelty versions on 42nd Street.
15.  Alex's entire life was one large donation to the Widow and Orphan Fund.  His widow and orphan.  He's laughing his ass off at you right now, from his perch in the Promised Land.
16. Wait, is that supposed to be a fucking joke?

In conclusion, I repeat: get the fuck outta here.

4 comments:

Karen ^..^ said...

There are no words for the (at the very least) absolute ignorance and thoughtlessness (and at the very worst) abject cruelty of others at a time like this. I can't fathom the idiotic utterances you've had to endure at the absolute worst time of your life. I'm so, so sorry. I'm not one to tiptoe around someone who has suffered a loss, but I'm well aware of certain lines that should never be crossed. I have not asked how he died, because it simply is NOT any of my business. Many things are not my business, not because we aren't family, but because I believe you should only tell certain information because YOU WANT TO or NEED to. No one has the right to say these things to you, and anyone who does, is a complete fucking psychopath. I love you, kiddo. Call me whenever you need.

DUTA said...

It sounds surrealistic, but yes, people are tactless under the worst of circumstances.

Pat said...

I don't think tactless quite covers it. That is a monster you are having to deal with.

Amanda Makes said...

My darling love...they’re going to drive you crazy for a while and then somehow you develop white noise in your head that blocks it all out. Then you’re just about able to not want to hit them round the head with a spade. This is one thing I can promise you. Now I file the worst ones away in my mind to share with Moo later and we shriek with laughter over them as Jenny would have done. And sometimes I remember to think ‘Did they intend to offend?’ Not often though. Sending you all my love xxxx