The other day Mark and I drafted a text to someone facing a crisis. And, as we were thinking about things to say, we were also thinking about things not to say, most of which have been said to us.
So later I pondered… What if someone wrote to some poor, grief-stricken soul using ALL (or many) of the common platitudes in a single letter? How ridiculous would that be? So I decided to write this letter as a sort of parody (just for my blog). And then I took it a step further, re-writing said letter (a parody of a parody, if you will) attempting to cut to the chase with what’s really (potentially) behind all these platitudes.
NOTE – These are parodies and are not intended to criticize anyone who’s uttered these phrases. In fact, some of these phrases aren’t super horrible if taken individually and used in the proper context. (Though, to be clear, most of them are.) I’ll even fess up to offering, “I can’t even imagine…” a time or two (pre-loss, of course). I understand we’re almost conditioned to speak these platitudes considering Hallmark actually prints cards with them. And, furthermore, I can appreciate that most people have good intentions. Though I also believe that some either fail to think before they speak or come from a self-centered place, which is mostly who/what I’m making fun of here. Also, references to God aren’t meant to be disparaging rather are merely a function of the frequency with which God enters empty platitudes, a phenomenon which I consider to be unfortunate.
Letter #1 – Parody of platitudes all in one letter
I’m so very sorry for your loss. I cannot even begin to imagine the depths of your sorrow. In fact, if I were to be faced with similar circumstances, I don’t think I’d survive.
But I know you can get through this. Because you are strong. In fact, you’re one of the strongest people I know. And God only gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers, so God must really consider you to be one badass warrior. 🙂
And while we humans can’t be certain why you’ve experienced this tragedy, we can all take comfort in knowing that this was part of God’s perfect plan. We may not understand it now, as God works in mysterious ways, but someday all will be revealed to us. And I can personally testify to this truth, as I can look back on all of the various hardships I’ve encountered and consider each one of them blessings now. Everything always works out in the end – everything happens for a reason. You’ll probably become a better person because of all of this.
Or maybe the reason is because your loved one was sick. Maybe your loved one was injured. Maybe your loved one would have committed a crime in the future. We just don’t know. But none of us would have wanted any of these terrible things, now would we have?
And it’s also good to remember that at least you and your loved one got the time together that you did. At least you have other loved ones. At least you might be able to replace this loved one with another loved one. And at least your loved one will no longer be subjected to the evils of this world. You should focus on the positives and, honestly, you should be thankful.
And your loved one is in heaven now, right where he/she should be. Your loved one is your guardian angel, watching out for and protecting you always and forever.
I want to reassure you that some good will come from all of this, especially if you keep the faith. Just you wait.
Have you tried therapy? What about medication? What about support group?
Should you need anything, please don’t hesitate to call. And remember that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Letter #2 – Parody of parody of platitudes all in one letter
I’m so very sorry for your loss. I’d rather not try to imagine your pain and suffering, as your circumstances are beyond horrendous, and to think about them for too long leaves me with uncomfortable sensations comparable to those resulting from a giant wedgie, which I generally try to avoid with smart underwear decisions. In fact, if presented with the choice between death and what you’ve experienced, I’d choose death every single time.
But you’re not dead. Nope, here you sit in front of me. I’m enamored by your emotional fortitude. You are much stronger than I am, so I’m glad this happened to you instead of to me. In fact, it all makes sense – God knows you’ll rise to this challenge.
And I have to believe that this is part of God’s plan and/or that everything happens for a reason, because to believe otherwise also results in wedgie-esque discomfort. I’d hate to think that the world is actually a disorderly place infiltrated by evil. To accept this reality is to accept that something equally tragic could happen to me, and, honestly, I just can’t go there. And I’ve always been able to find the reason for others’ tragedies, as well as my own. I mean, back in 2003 when my 18-year-old cat’s health took a sudden, unexpected turn for the worse, I was devastated. Yet somehow I rallied against seemingly insurmountable odds. Today I’m proud to say that, because of all these trying times, I’m a stronger, more compassionate person who contributes nominal amounts of money to my local humane society on a regular basis. And, had my cat not died, I never would’ve met my husband, the veterinarian who euthanized him. (Never mind that he left his wife and seven children to be with me, making me a home wrecker.) See? Things work out!
It makes me feel better to tell you that, by dying, your loved one averted fates I consider to also be tragic. This places a logical spin on your loved one’s death, ignoring the fact that said logical spin only works within a vacuum, dismissing the countless other situations in the world that threaten to disprove my theories.
I also feel compelled to throw in some “at least” statements… Because not only are they a fun way to dazzle you with my creativity, dreaming up ways in which your dire circumstances could exacerbate, but I also get this warm (almost as if I wet my pants) feeling knowing I fulfilled my due diligence, reminding you of all of the blessings still present in your life, as if you weren’t already aware of them.
And it comforts me to think that your loved one is your guardian angel. But you know what would comfort me even more? To think that your loved one is actually MY guardian angel.
I hope some good follows this, because it’s depressing to think too hard about the tragedies after which there’s no earthly redemption.
Also, I hope you seek help from others – from anyone, or from anything, other than me. I’d like for a professional to make you happy again. I’d like for some Zoloft or Lexapro to make you happy again. I’d like others who’ve walked your specific path to tell you how to be happy again. (Honestly mainstream society isn’t really equipped to deal with your grief anyway.) And, preferably, I’d like for all of this to happen soon, so we can just move on. I can’t float through life as blissfully knowing that you’re so sad. And also, I miss you – the old you, not the new, pitiful you…
So I’ll be checking out for a while. I don’t want you to kill yourself, but I don’t really want to directly help you in your healing either. But call me as soon as you’re back to normal!
When in doubt, it might be best to offer, “I’m sorry. I love you.” And it’s even better to continue to offer these words in the days, weeks, months, and years following.