Words of My Mother

My mother always taught me to be polite and not make waves. She also taught me to never, ever be rude or crass. These 2 things are warring in my head. I’m fuming. I tried to ignore it, but frankly, I’m mad as hell. I’m not willing to stay silent. Someone needs to speak up.

Someone should be celebrating her second daughter’s birthday, and instead she’s remembering that her daughter couldn’t stay. And another blogger posted, wonderfully about this. Which is a good and kind thing, to remember together.

When your best friend’s husband leaves her and the kids for his 19 year old secretary, you don’t rave about the lingerie your husband bought you for your birthday.

When your SIL’s mother has died, you don’t phone on the anniversary of her death and talk about your mother.

And when someone’s child has died, you don’t comment that you’ll kiss your own kids because you are so sad. That’s rude. More than rude, it’s actually mean. Cruel. Thoughtless.

It’s all of those things because you are making the situation about you, and not about the hurting person. It’s mean because you are being selfish. It’s inappropriate to respond to someone’s grief with your joy.

There are appropriate words for this situation. Two of them.

I’m sorry.

You could go a step further. You could add 4 more words.

I’m thinking of you.
And if you can’t figure out how to be nice, how to be polite, how not to make a bad situation about you, shut the hell up.
I mean it, muzzle it.
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16 Responses to Words of My Mother

  1. Good Timing says:

    How true!! Very well said…

  2. Bluebird says:

    Of course I agree. 100%. But mostly I'm sad because it's clear from your post that someone has not been kind and that someone has been hurt. And I so badly want to fix it. I just hope that she received plenty of "I'm sorry's" and "I'm thinking of you's" too.

  3. ..... Carmen says:

    I agree. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it. That's what my Mother taught me. I'm sorry that someone was thoughtless with their words and that it caused someone furthur hurt. I'm amazed sometimes what people say when they don't think before they speak.

  4. Heather Griffith Brewer says:

    *I'm sorry* is seriously one of the few sentiments that I can wrap my head around. Too many of the other common sympathetic remarks seem insulting and too silver-lining intentioned. When you are burying your child instead of taking them home…"they're in a better place" makes me want to punch someone. Everyone has to come to terms with any grief on their own time…that time may be short, or it may be long. You did an excellent post a while back regarding grief and friends, and how people react to other's grief. It was incredible, insightful, and touching.

    I'm thinking of you and Mr. Spit all the time. I'm sorry, and I pray for you both.

  5. Two Hands says:

    I wish that no one who was in pain ever had to deal with such thoughtlessness.
    You have taught me so much, Mrs. S, through this blog. I know it's small, small consolation, but you may well have prevented someone else from being hurt that way through your honesty and willingness to share.
    Thinking about you and Mr. S and Gabriel.

  6. Seraphim says:

    Well said.

  7. Jayme says:

    Beautifully said. I've always thought those were the two best things that can be said to me.

  8. Michele says:

    AMEN. SO true.

  9. JamieD says:

    Well said.

    I'm not sure what's worse. That it was said, or that the person didn't realize how hurtful that comment was.

    Please tell me they didn't realize it was hurtful and not that they were trying to be mean. Because then I might have to hunt them down.

  10. HereWeGoAJen says:

    People can be thoughtless. Thoughtless is better than mean, but neither is acceptable.


  11. angie says:

    Since my daughter died, I have come to realize that the most supportive, kind, loving things people said were: "I don't know what to say." Or "There are no words." And then simply to abide. "I'm sorry" and "I'm thinking of you" rank up there too. Wise post, especially during the holidays, everything is so raw. With love. xo

  12. debby says:

    You know, I used to try very hard to say something, ANYTHING, when I was faced with a situation that there really were no words for. I used to say stupid stuff, I’m sure. And then agonize about it because I was sure that it was not right. Now, I find that it is better just to shut up, to admit that I don’t know what to say. Cry with them. I think that it comes with maturity.

    That being said, I still have a hard time with this one: Just after the diagnosis, a person came to my daughter and said, “If your mother has as much faith as she thinks that she does, she’ll survive this.”

    It might be immaturity. But then again, there are some really spiteful people in this world.

  13. Mrs. Spit says:

    Yeah, that’s just a really crappy thing. I get mad when people tell me that they couldn’t survive if their child died.

  14. Msfitzita says:

    Oy. I’ve heard this so many times I’ve lost count. It never occurred to me to get mad about it for some strange reason, but I do know it always made me desperately sad and lonely each time I heard it. And it still does.

    Thanks for suggesting people stop saying it altogether. It’s just not worth the pain it causes, no matter how well meaning it might be.

    I’m sorry you’ve heard it. And I’m sorry for everyone else who’s heard it too.

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