In the just over 4 years that I have been a widow, I have had to sit in silence and bite my tongue through an endless array of insensitive or just plain stupid comments coming from both friends, family, acquaintenances and co-workers, and yes, even total strangers. As the person who is grieving, we are told over and over again by society that “people just don’t know what to say” and they are “only trying to help”, and that they “mean well”, so therefore, we are supposed to just nod politely, smile and get on with things. Okay. I can do that, if that is what the world wants from me. However, I do think that just continuing to brush off people’s hurtful and often rude comments as “not knowing what to say” is unhealthy. The only way that people will ever learn what NOT to say to someone who is grieving the life they had and the person they loved most in this world, is to educate them. And since I’m a comedian, I choose to offer up my education in a comedic tone. So if you are reading this and you have no sense of humor, please go out to Wal-Mart or somewhere and get one. Then come back and have a good laugh.
The following is a list of 25 (in no particular order) actual comments that actual people actually said to me after my husband Don died very suddenly, with zero warning or symptom, in July of 2011, from a massive heart attack, at age 46. Below each actual comment, I have listed what I wish I could have said in response at the time, but of course, didn’t. Some of these comments were said to me right away after the death, and others were said as recently as last month. So, what does this accomplish? Well, for one thing, it’s fun to come up with pretend, smart-ass replies that I could never actually say in real life to these people. And secondly, the next time me or any of my dear brothers and sisters in widowhood have to put up with one of these or other insensitive comments, they can now laugh their asses off, thinking of what they wish they could say in response; as they nod their heads politely like a good widow (er) should. Here is the dialogue that I wish could take place as part of normal and acceptable society:
IT WAS GODS PLAN.
Oh, you mean my husband going to work and then never coming home? Or did you mean the part where he collapsed on a cold hard floor just an hour after getting there? Or the part where Im woken up traumatically by a ringing phone at 6:30am and then rushed to a hospital in a cab to be taken to a private room and told by a bunch of nurses that my husband went into cardiac arrest and didn’t make it? Or all of that? Was that all part of the plan? That’s really good to know, thanks for telling me that. It takes all of the pain and hurt and PTSD and trauma and anxiety and panic away. Really. By the way, what will God be doing next? What is the next part of the plan? I figured I’d ask since you seem to be the spokesperson for God. I didn’t realize. Congratulations on that promotion. Out of everybody on earth, God chose YOU to be in charge of dissecting his thoughts and words and passing them on to the rest of us. Wow! Thats impressive. And I thought you were merely a civilian, like me. Good to know.
YOURE YOUNG. YOULL FIND SOMEONE ELSE AND GET MARRIED AGAIN ONE DAY.
I will? Oh, wow!!! That is such a huge relief, because THAT is, of course, what is on my mind and heart right now, after my husband’s death and all. Im thinking about marrying someone else, as soon as possible, in fact. So Im glad you picked up on that . I didn’t realize you had become a psychic and that you were now able to predict the future. How else could you possibly know that I will remarry? What else will happen to me, oh great one? Do tell!!!
YOURE TOO YOUNG TO BE A WIDOW.
You know what? You’re so right. So they must have made a mistake then. I will make sure to go straight to the widow authorities in the morning and return my black veil and my 6 cats.
GOD NEVER GIVES US MORE THAN WE CAN HANDLE.
You’re so correct. (punches them in the face) Oh my! I am soooo sorry that you are lying face down on the ground after me punching you in the face. Was that more than you could handle? Sorry about that. But please don’t blame me. I had nothing to do with it. It was part of God’s plan.
EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON.
Yes. Exactly. Like, how I punched you in the face just now? The reason was that you’re an asshole.
GOD ONLY TAKES THE BEST.
So, what does that make me? Chopped liver? A horrible person? And you too. And the rest of us walking around on earth. Do we all suck as human beings, since he only takes the best ones? That doesn’t seem logical to me. I think what makes more sense is this – people die. Lets go with that.
WE MAKE PLANS, AND GOD LAUGHS.
Wow, this God that you believe in sure sounds like a prick! I believe in a higher power too. I believe in the concept of a God. But the God I believe in is all about Love and kindness and goodness, not taking people away for fun, and mocking us and getting off on our pain. That is not a God that I believe in. Sorry. But good luck with that.
HE IS IN A BETTER PLACE.
Really? Better than here with me, happily married and looking forward to our long future together? No, I don’t think so. He was very happy here, and he was not suffering, nor was he in pain of any kind, since he was not ill and his death was sudden. I have an idea though. Since you seem to like this “better place” so much, why don’t we bring my husband back here, and YOU can go there instead? How does that sound? Here, I’ll help you pack …..
YOU NEED TO GET OVER THIS.
Get over what? Love? Get over loving the person that I vowed to love forever and spend my life with? I should get over love? No. That’s not a thing. That’s not possible. I don’t think you’ve ever been in love before if you would say something like that to me. This wasn’t a divorce. He DIED. I will always, always love him – until the day I stop breathing, and beyond.
YOU NEED TO MOVE ON.
Again, that’s not a thing. Move on from where? Where should I move to? What does that mean? If it means that you want me to stop talking about him, and just act like he never existed – that’s never going to happen. We keep the people we love alive by carrying them with us and telling their story. If you cant understand that, then I think you’re right. I think I need to move on. From you, and from our relationship.
MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER DIED. WE SAW EACH OTHER ONCE A DECADE, AND SHE WAS 107. I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL.
Yes, of course you do. Because that is EXACTLY the same thing as losing your husband, best friend, the life you knew, your past, your present, your future, your dreams of a family, your rock, your security, your stability, your heart, your soul, your identity, your everything – in the blink of an eye. Its exactly the same.
AT LEAST YOU DIDNT HAVE CHILDREN.
Hey, that was awesome of you to remind me, JUST as I had stopped thinking about it for five seconds, that I will never be a mom and that my husband will never get to be a dad. So nice of you to remind me of that trauma and that intense pain I feel every single day. Its also really kind of you to imply that because we didn’t have kids, that my marriage was somehow not valid enough or that my hurt and grief aren’t as important. Thank you so much!!!
ANYTHING YOU NEED, JUST ASK. ANYTHING AT ALL. CALL ANYTIME. NIGHT OR DAY ….
Okay, relax there, casual Facebook friend whom I barely know. I know youre trying to be nice and you think this is what you should say, but you don’t mean it. I highly doubt you will actually be there for the many, many things I am going to definitely need over the next few weeks, months, and years because of this life-altering loss. But since you offered … Id love some help with my laundry and with the car, and also all my lightbulbs need changing and the ceilings are too high for me to reach them. And then, usually around 4:30 am when I cant sleep and Im sobbing hysterically, you could come over and just sit with me, or I’ll give you a call everytime that happens. You cool with that? Awesome. P.s. Whats your phone number again? I don’t even think I know your full name ….
YOU SHOULD BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE.
And you should be grateful that Im not a violent person, and that I don’t particularly like jail cells as places to reside after knocking you over the head with a 2 by 4.
IT COULD BE WORSE.
Could it? Really? I don’t know about that. My husband is dead forever. Im pretty sure this IS the very definition of “worse.” And what is the point of saying that anyway? Is that supposed to make me feel better somehow? Because it doesn’t. At all.
THIS HAPPENED BECAUSE YOU DIDNT PRAY HARD ENOUGH.
Oh, okay. Is that why it happened? I thought it was part of “the Plan.” What happened to the almighty plan? Im confused now. Also, if you could explain to me, oh great one and spokesperson of God, WHEN exactly was I supposed to be doing this praying? You know, considering the fact that I basically woke UP to the reality that my husband had gone to work, and then died. So, having ZERO knowledge of the fact that he was going to die, before he was actually DEAD, when was I to do this praying that you speak of? If I thought that prayer worked, I might pray for you to go out and buy some common sense or a brain.
AT LEAST HE DIED DOING WHAT HE LOVED.
Yes, yes. Because my husband absolutely LOVED being at work and collapsing alone on a hard cold floor while his heart gave out on him. That was his favorite thing.
LIFE IS FOR THE LIVING.
Well, thanks for that pointless little gem of nothing. And being condescending is for the jackass!
NOBODY SAID LIFE WAS FAIR!
That’s true. And nobody said you’re not a douche-bag!
YOU’RE SO LUCKY THAT HE IS DEAD. I HAVE TO SEE MY EX ALL THE TIME.
Yes. “Lucky” is the word that comes to mind immediately when I think of my situation. Also, just FYI, he isn’t my “ex” anything. He was my husband and he died, and I would give just about anything in this world if I could see him again. And thanks for the anxiety attack I’m now having inside, as I try my hardest NOT to kick you into the next galaxy.
I WISH MY HUSBAND WAS DEAD. HAHAHA!!!!
Yes, that’s hilarious. Making stupid jokes about your shitty marriage and your crappy husband to someone who just lost theirs to death is exactly what should be happening here. Awesome.
HE WOULDNT WANT YOU TO CRY.
Yes well, he is dead, so I guess it doesn’t much matter what he would want, now , does it? But if we are going to play it that way, then he probably wouldn’t want people like you saying dumb shit that upsets me and in fact, makes me cry. So go away now.
GOD MUST HAVE NEEDED ANOTHER ANGEL.
This God of yours is very needy, dontcha think? And, not for nothing, but he is GOD. He is the all powerful and mighty, and he lives in Heaven. So, since we have established that you are obviously God’s spokesperson for all things, can you tell him to make his own damn angel? They gotta have at LEAST one aisle of Heaven reserved for Angel-making purposes. There must be an arts and crafts station or something up there. How many angels does this guy need anyway? He’s getting a little selfish.
WELL, LIFE GOES ON!!!
Wow, does it? Well thanks for that useless drivel. I was not aware that life was to continue in it’s natural form. Thank you for pointing that out to me.
YOU ARE LOOKING BETTER. GLAD TO SEE YOU ARE FINALLY ALL BETTER.
Holy shit. What the hell did I look like before??? Im looking “better?” Better than what? And yes, thankfully, I am ALL BETTER NOW. I took my medicine and I rested up, and wouldn’t ya know it, the pain and the grief and the hurt just all went away, just like that!!! It’s a miracle!!! Now if youll kindly excuse me, I need to go take my “GRIEF BE GONE” pills, so that I can remain “all better” from now on.
Now, in the interest of not ending this article on a negative note, I would like to tell you all that there have been plenty of people in the past 4 years who have said things that did NOT make me want to throw them out the nearest window. There have been people who have said some really great things – things that stuck with me. Things that I will list here, so that the next time you run into a person who has just lost everything they knew, maybe you can make the choice not to be a douche-bag by adding to their pain.
In the end, if you knew the person well who has suffered the loss, just be there for them. Don’t judge them or give them advice or tell them how they should be feeling or grieving or coping. If you haven’t been through it, you really don’t know, and your job should be to support them and not disappear from their life. If you didnt know them well, a simple “I’m so sorry” works just fine. Thanks for reading.
Good Things People Have Said to Me:
I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say.
This is not what I dreamed for you when we were kids. (my best childhood friend)
He would be so proud of you.
He loved you so much, and he always will.
You were the love of his life, and the last person he will ever love.
You will always have his heart. You get to hold onto the love forever.
Love never dies.
Here is a story / memory / picture of your husband Id like to share with you.
I miss him too.
Lets honor him /have a toast / share stories about our friend. Lets say his name and talk about him.
This really fucking sucks.
I can’t believe this happened. This is so unfair.
I wish I had known him better.
I might not do everything right, and I might screw this up, but Im not leaving you, and Im around whenever you want me to be.
If you need someone to talk to , I promise Im a really good listener and I will never judge you.
I love you.