Friday, July 17, 2009

Top 5 Things NOT to Say

Here is my list of the top five things not to say to someone whose child has died of cancer. Yes, these have all been spoken in an effort to comfort me.

#5. A lot of good will come from this. (Yeah, hmmm...for me it will always be a bad trade. Now is not the time to quote or misquote Romans 8:28)
#4. God gave her cancer because [fill in the blank].
#3 God took her early before she could become corrupted. (Oh, really? Um, I think Charles Manson would have been a better choice.)
#2. God needed her to sing in the heavenly choir. (So, I hear there's an opening for another soprano. Anyone? Anyone?)

and the #1 thing not to say to someone whose child has died of cancer (Drum roll, please):
#1. It's not so bad because you have two other daughters. (Oh. My. Gosh. )

I know it's awkward. I never know what to say either, and I'm no stranger to putting my foot in my mouth. I also know that everyone has the best of intentions; no one sets out to say something stupid. Nevertheless, if there is a lesson here, it is this: Resist the urge to say anything more than, "I'm sorry."

14 comments:

SLY said...

People said these things outloud. I think the worse I hear about any type of death is "God did it" "God gave her cancer..." The God I know doesn't work like that.

Anonymous said...

Do all the venting you need to do. That is a part of the healing process. Your family is always in my prayers. God Bless you!

Grace said...

I think I would have looked at each one of those people and said "Did you realize you just said that out loud?"
Anyway, thanks for the advice though. Curious as to what comment you appreciated the most other than "I am sorry?"
Thanks for your honesty and for being human! Praying for you and your family!

Kathy said...

I don't think God gives people disease. Hey..there's a good person! Have some cancer!..no, I ain't buyin it. I often ask why too.. As I don't want to risk saying something that will be #6, I will say that I am so so so sorry that you are going through this, that there is no greater pain than the loss of a child (Just the thought of losing one of mine tears me up) and I know after losing my mom over 25 years ago, that there won't be a day that goes by that you won't think of Maura. I guess that is how we keep them alive, memories. The only difference now is that I can remember without crying.

This is Sarcoma Awareness Week. Sometime during this week, I plan on making another donation to Sarcoma research in honor and memorium. May we find the cure for the monster that took your beautiful, talented and good daughter. God has enough in the Heavenly choir for now. Peace Erin.. I've been thinking about you.

Kathy

Anonymous said...

I'm Sorry...

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry times ten.

Anonymous said...

God knows your pain. Give it all to Him. He has already carried the weight of the world. He is with you always.

Anonymous said...

My daughter (We both sang with Maura at First Methodist in Huntsville.) was talking to me last night about how one comforts people in the midst of tragedy. I told her I think what death and disasters do to us is shake our sense of the order of the world. The meaning of our own lives is founded in that sense of order. Maura was your baby as Amber is mine. You weren't raising her to die of cancer at 22. Events like that strip the threads off our sense of meaning.
I talked to her about how human religions seek to place that founding sense of order out of reach of these disasters (only to still have some of the lame nonsense you noted in your post happen). That is Man making a god in his image
Mother Teresa professed late in life to a confidante of a profound sense of emptiness, something she never burdened those in her charge with. We can all see, though, that her life was full of meaning. For many just her presence helping them gave them a sense of their own purpose in life. There's something to be said for that. We don't have to know what our purpose is, or even be able to tell that we are fulfilling it to be living that purpose out.

In your posts here I saw you do that for Maura, for her friends, and for others you knew with cancers. I have felt crippling grief. No set of kind or well chosen words will quell the scream of it. It is a bitterly hard thing. For a while we are called upon as was Mother Teresa to give an abundance of that of which we have none.

There is meaning in that.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Erin!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. This post actually kind of brings a smile to my face, because a few months ago Maura posted a note something like this on facebook titled, "5 things not to say to someone with cancer" and some of the things in there were horrible! She just laughed it off. You two are kindred spirits.

Lindsay said...

Ok I would have punched whoever said #1. When I first got diagnosed I had someone say to me instead of I'm sorry..."So..does this mean you're gonna be like bald?" I about burst into tears.


Thinking of you,
Lindsay

Traci said...

Erin,
My name is Traci and I am a 45 year old student at SHSU and I work in the Registrars Office. I made a shadow box memorial in honor of Maura (who I did not have the pleasure of meeting but I will someday in Heaven) and it is hanging in the office. I was so touched by you and your family, cried many tears along the way and was proud to work on some of Maura's school paperwork. I wish you future smiles, memories and most of all the knowing of the love and support many have for you and your family. God Bless You in all that you do. Do you have any idea how I can get a Teal bracelet? I sure would like to have one for myself and one for the shadowbox. Prayers continue to be said for you and your family. Everyone who knew of Maura and her story truly fell in love with her. Thank you for sharing your story in these blogs...remember when you said you miss the cards in the mail...I think many of us would miss reading your blogs. Thanks for your time, Traci

Anonymous said...

While it is true that people can say the strangest things when someone is grieving - I don't believe that their intent is to hurt you or your family. Would it be better for people to say absolutely nothing in acknowledgement?

Anonymous said...

Hello Erin,
Please ignore the post above this one. Both his/her observation and question were answered in your post. I would like this person to please refrain from asking sarcastic questions on a mourner's blog. Welcome to the blogging world!