Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Rant

So I'm not sure that you all realize it, but you all function quite effectively as my collective internet therapist. When something starts to roll around in my mind too long, I blog it, and it's better. And I'm beginning to get angry when I see people who are trying to express their grief, and I don't want to feel angry. So here we go.

People don't know what to say. I get that. I'm not even sure that I can give anyone advice on what to say. It's just awful.

But please don't say, "I couldn't do what you've done".

Trust me, you could. I didn't sign up for this. It's not an Ironman Triathalon that sounded like a good idea several months ago, but now we're all reconsidering.

What you're really trying to say is, "God, that is such an awful, terrible thing to happen that I can't even fathom how you are coping with life, and it must be because you are made of some sort of different protoplasm than I am, and since I'm just too delicate to handle it, it will never happen to me."

Well, you're wrong.

I don't want to do this. I didn't ask for this in my life. Neither did the holocaust Jews, or the Tsunami victims, or the last person in your town who's spouse was killed in a car accident. I'm not looking to be strong, or motivational, or have some TV miniseries made about me. I'm just like you, trying to live my life, and something really bad happened to me and my family.

And I hate to tell you this, but something really bad might happen to you too.

And to think that it can't pushes me away.

So stop saying that to me.

Instead, maybe you could say, "This really sucks, and I'm so sorry."

Because then you are still here, with me. And you're sorry, and it helps.


SOCKS said...

This really sucks and I'm so sorry.

Sybil said...

It really does suck...well and truly. and no one but no one knows what another person is going through or even how they themselves will get through something so horrible...

God Bless,
Love Syil xx

cv said...

This really sucks. And I'm sorry.

Bianca Castafiore said...

It's about time.

The pressure to be extraordinary in a rotten situation is precisely pressure exerted to push you away and make that rotten stuff unimaginable.

Good post, Smak.

The most useful comment I've ever received from a doctor was this: "La Bonne et Belle Bianca, we all have to play the hands that we're dealt. I'm sorry, but you've been dealt a shitty hand."

And yes, I feel enormously uncomfortable referring to my issues in the comment section of a mother whose son just died. But I am gonna risk it because I am not extraordinary or gifted in how-to-suffer, either.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that it sucks so bad. It freaking sucks. It's awful and it makes me mad. I'm sorry you are sad.

XE said...

It really sucks, and I'm so so sorry. I wish there was something more I could do.

ArkieRN said...

I hate that this happened to you.

I hope that if I am ever in your shoes that I can show half of the grace that you've displayed.

rlbates said...

This really suck and I am so sorry!

Cathy said...

It really sucks, Dr, Smak. I am so sorry!

Anonymous said...

It absolutely sucks and I am really sorry it happened to you and I know it could happen to me, to my family, to anyone that I love. So, I think that some of us hope that through your example-extraordinary or not--we know that if or when the unthinkable happens, we too will be able to pick ourselves up and continue to live our lives. We have to.

Thanks for ranting--It is extremely therapeutic.

ADB said...

This does suck. Death is so horribly final, isn't it. Nothing you can do anymore. Makes you feel completely powerless. Small wonder you feel crap. I'm sorry.

...tom... said...


It really sucks to say this...

you said...
"So I'm not sure that you all realize it, but you all function quite effectively as my collective internet therapist."

...but my bill is in the mail.


I have watched a loved one die over many months. It does indeed 'really suck'.

Great post.


radioactive girl said...

SERIOUSLY! I am sick and tired of people telling me how strong and brave I am. I didn't get a choice in this, and neither did you. Sometimes things suck. Sometimes they suck A LOT. You get through them because there isn't a choice. You don't deserve it, but who really does deserve this kind of crap? I sure can't think of anyone!

I do realize people don't know what to say, but when I feel that way I just say "I have no idea what to say". That seems better than the whole brave and strong thing. I mean I am brave and strong in other things, but having cancer did not prove any of that.

I totally get the therapy thing. I do that too with my blog. Sometimes it makes me feel better and sometimes it just frustrates me. I wish you lived near me so we could hang out. I have a feeling we would comfort each other pretty well and have a lot of regular people fun too.

Ali said...

There was never a question... to do or not to do. You are the best momma there is to your lovely boy, and your two beautiful girls. And thank you for sharing it with us all. "It sucks" sums it up so very well... and I am so very sorry. Life isn't fair when someone whose life has just begun is taken away, and cancer sucks the most.

Hugs to you and your family from another random internet stranger. :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, it really does suck. I read your husbands blog as well and I read how you both are dealing and... it sucks and I'm sorry, but you both seem to be handling as well as can be expected. I wish I could do more.

Maire said...

You absolutely right. People struggle they dont know what to say, they dont want to make it worse. It royally sucks. I dont know you, and my heart breaks for you, and I am so sorry. Thank you for your honesty

Yummy Mummy said...

This really sucks and I am so sorry.

Juliebplusthree said...

I discovered your blog today from another blog, and I felt compelled to write tonight.

I am a Mom of 3 boys, and I'm a nursing student. First of all, I really enjoyed your medical commentary. Second of all, I felt sick to my stomach when I read what happened to your little boy. My middle child is 4 years old. I, too, LOVE the age of four. My heart aches for you. I once read an autobiography from a woman who was diagnosed with ALS in her early thirties. She wrote, "Everyone has a 'why me'; everyone has that. I just got a really bad 'why me'."

I think you got a really bad "why me". Your son did, your family did. There is no rhyme or reason about it; it just sucks. It's frigging terrible and no one should have to go through it.

Cosmically, I sometimes wonder what is in store for me, because I love my kids so passionately; they are my "thing". Why am I drawn to blogs where people have lost a spouse or a child? Is it just by chance that I clicked on one once, and then have found all of the others? Each story is so heart wrenching, raw, and real. The things that we have to endure. The tough stuff. The BIG stuff. I guess I'll never one ever knows.

Thinking of you tonight. Your boy was so beautiful; thank you for sharing him with us.


tiff said...

It does suck and it is unfair and I hated it when people talked about my strength and my bravery when my son died.
I had no choice. I had to let him go, I had to keep going. There is nothing brave or strong about it.

I am so sorry that your little man is gone.
People say all sorts of things. They mean well but often it's just the wrong thing.

Christine said...

So true, and people who haven't experienced real loss don't get it. My Dad is dying of stage IV metastasized lung cancer (non smoker) and I have friends say "I can't imagine losing a parent, I couldn't deal with it' and I think to myself silently 'but you will, someday. We all will. '

Just found your blog. I am so deeply sorry for the loss of your son. Cancer sucks.

Anonymous said...


As always, your posts serve to educate.

While it sucks that people say 'the wrong thing' they (most often) surely say them for the 'right reasons'. After all, most of us are not practiced in the art of 'comforting the grieving'.

Your thoughts carry value far beyond the here and now. That is a great legacy from Henry.


AngelMc said...

When I was in therapy years ago for a really bad time I was going through, the first thing I asked my therapist was why me? And the very simple thing that he said started my healing at that very moment. "Because Angelyn, bad things happen to good people." Oh. It wasn't my fault, and I wasn't being punished for something that I had done. I think about you often and I hope that every day will get a little easier for you and your family

Anonymous said...

Dr. SMAK - you should read the church of 80% sincerity -- it is so on point and an amazing and quick read. hand in hand with you.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I am new to your blog, just clicking through from another blog and just found you. I am so sorry about your son. It really really sucks.

Your post today was amazing as well and it really resonated with me... I am a mother of twins born very early at 27 weeks with lots of health issues (they both were in critical condition for several weeks) and people kept telling me that ~I know I could not do what you do~ and it made me so mad. Yes, you can do it and if it happens to you, you will do it because it's a tragedy and nobody is exempt from it.

You just pick up the pieces and carry on.... there is no other way around it. Much love your way!

A Doc 2 Be said...

Many continued warm thoughts to your family.

It does suck. The loss of a child permeates like nothing else.

Time does mend the hurt, it does scab over the open, oozing soreness of longing... Henry will be with you forever. As he should be.

But for the continued pain, I'm so very sorry.

gwendomama said...

Oh wow. I wrote about this 'what not to say' stuff a lot after people accused me of being 'too angry' in my grief writing process after my one year and one month (how that one month is important!)old son died. Nearly 5 years ago.
I especially hated the 'I could never have survived that' comment - every time I heard it, it made me feel as if I should off myself for being of such 'hearty stock' and not offing myself in the first place.
That's not what I meant to say though. What I meant to say is, that this is totally fracked up and you are plodding along. Writing is good.
None of it is fair, and it all sucks, and none of it makes sense, and yes - any one of us could be you.
I am sorry for the suckfest that life has dealt your family.
I am glad that Henry was yours.

Kathy said...

"You're so strong"

sounds an awful lot like

"You're strong and the reason this sh**storm hit you is because you're strong enough to take it (and I'm weak and could never be strong enough)"


"Your life sucks and I'm so glad I'm not you."

I wrote almost the same thing about 6 weeks ago when someone finally talked me into doing one of those "25 things about me" notes on Facebook. I didn't write it on my blog because I was afraid that some of my comments might offend members of my family who read my blog.

When my son was in treatment I felt like I could use my blog as therapy but I don't feel like that any more because he's still alive and so many other kids (like my niece and your poor Henry) are gone and even when things are tough, I know we're blessed and I don't want God to think that I'm ungrateful in addition to being strong enough to handle all of this.

I don't remember how I found your blog, but I'm glad I did and I'll be back.

I am so terribly sorry about Henry and the valley of the shadow of death you all are walking through right now. I don't know if you are a woman of faith or not but regardless I'll keep your family in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Henry's death sucks
love k3p3

Anna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Bus Driver said...

Just found your blog and read a little bit. I'm sorry for your loss. It sucks.

RIP Henry.

django's mommy said...

Just found your blog via Snickollet.

What a great analysis of why that statement is just so farking annoying. Like, I CHOSE to be strong through this?? Like I had ANY input whatsoever?

My husband died 18 months ago. Our son is 4. I'm so sorry about Henry.

e.l said...

Good post, Dr Smak. I am, and have been, so very sorry. e.l.

jt said...

I've been guilty of saying the wrong thing myself--
a coworker's husband committed suicide, and I said "I was so shocked to hear about this!" and she said, "me, too!". Oops...

FrankandMary said...

There was a point at which an online friend of mine KNEW she wasn't going to survive her breast cancer and she called me & said: Don't tell me I am strong, because everyone has told me that all day, and they are wrong. I just don't have a choice.

So instead I told her it was terrible, horrible, totally unfair, and I hated every second of it. And I still feel that way..

Anonymous said...

This SUCKS, and I am so sorry. You didn't do anything to deserve this sorrow. Bad things happen to good people every day, and no one is immune, not even tactless people.

I get the "I couldn't do what you do" because I care for my Dad with Alzheimer's. It's always on the tip of my tongue to say "You could if you WANTED to," but I usually just say, "Well, he's my Dad and I love him."

Sorry people say stupid things to you. Most people are doing the best they can with what they have to work with, and that ain't always much.

Love to you and your family.

Kat said...

I too lost a son. He would have been 3 last month. I loved the line you wrote "I didn't sign up for this". I can't really elaborate on that but that it touched me.

It sucks. That's about the extent of it.


Snickollet said...

Thank you so much for saying this.

It really, really sucks.

And I'm so, so sorry.

Life it not fair.


court said...

people said similar comments to me after I lost my 21 year old brother unexpectedly, of sudden cardiac arrest. one woman in group grief couneling looked at my mom and said, "if I had to bury my child I would just die. just die. I don't know how you keep on living"

I was burning with anger for the rest of the hour. because you are perfectly right-- hit the nail right on the head-- it's not likely you chose this. It is something terrible and you are fully aware of that as you go on living the best you can.

From one survivor to another, I am so sorry. and this really, really sucks.


Anonymous said...

I have never heard this thought on what to say put better. My neighbor told me I had to have more than two children (she has 5) because something could happen to the two and then I'd have none!!
I was so thinking, "what the hell".
Things happen to people with 5 too and I have knews for her it doesn't matter how many you have your other children don't somehow make up for the one you lost. Noone can ever replace a child. They can however bring you needed joy. I pray that as you learn to become a family of four again that joy would somehow sprout again and peace would be your constant someday. Thank you for sharing. I think your making a difference. Toni