Sunday, November 11, 2012

People Say the Dumbest Things

After the tragedy of my parents being killed, many people that knew them over the years came to express their condolences to me, as well as to visit me in the hospital. It is truly remarkable how hurtful, callus, and tackless people can be in spite of their good intentions.  I will not repeat any names or how the people who's comments will be repeated here are connected to my family. My intent is not to embarrass or hurt anyone. However, I do hope that after reading this, people might think twice before they open their mouths to talk to people that are grieving and/or hurt. And of course, I am writing this to vent my hurt and frustration.

I will start with the most ridiculus thing said to me. This person came to visit me in the rehab center where I am recovering from my injuries. They looked at me and said "at least we now have two strong advocates for Romney's victory in heaven". I don't know why this person thought this would be helpful for me to hear, or why they think dead people help change the results of elections. This person was also so close minded that they never thought I might have different political beliefs them their own. Frankly, I found the comment to be belittling of my loss and down right stupid.

Of course their were the tens of people that told me that "god" simply wanted my parents closer to "him". These are the same people that would tell me "god" is everywhere. But even if "god" does have a home in the sky where he hangs out with dead people, I would say "he" is a selfish, cruel "god" that could have waited patiently another 50-80 years before putting my family through this pain. And isn't "god" beyond time? This sort of comment might help a young child, but I find it hurtful and condescending.

I was told by one person that that a slight high point is that I would not have to "deal with my parents aging and will always remember them young and strong". I understand what this person was trying to say, especially now being in a rehab center surrounded by seniors with dementia. However, I would gladly deal with my parents aging and still have them here with me. This was not comforting in the least.

One person heard all that happened and looked at me and said, "with all this bad happening around you, you should probably be praying more". This small minded, cruel individual was of course implying that had I been sucking up to "god" more, then he wouldn't have hit us with a car. What a loving "god" to worship. This also implies that it was somehow my fault that this happened. Obviously this is not helpful or comforting. It is cruel, evil and self righteous.

Another person actually had the nerve to basically ask for a donation for a memorial plaque for my parents. Of course they asked while I was lying in bed at the rehab center, left leg and arm in splints and on bed rest because of complications. This person could not think about anyone other themselvesand money.  I'm sure I don't have to explain why this was the wrong thing for this person to do.

There were people that in one sentence tried to tell me that it was "god's" plan to kill my parents and that the only way I could get through this trauma was by returning to "god" and embracing "him". So "god" killed my parents AND will help me deal with my emotional loss? Isn't that called Stockholm Syndrome? There was another person that told me "god" killed my parents as a test to me, to see how I would handle it. This is kind of like how the mafia does things, no? They will kill someone close to you so that you stay loyal to them. Or maybe you will go to to the police? So "god" is a super human mafioso I guess. Sometimes it is obvious people do not think before talking.

Another person went to the shiva (a Jewish wake) and approached my maternal grandparents and asked who they were. My grandfather explained that they are Sari's parents. To which this person responded, "who is that?"  Needless to say my grandparents were mortified. If you do not know the deceased or their family, don't go to console them! It's an empty gesture that is only making you feel better and can be hurtful to the family if you are a tactless moron like this person.

Speaking of  self serving, empty gestures. One day some rabbi came to my hospital room with three little children. I looked up from the bed at four smiling faces that I did not know. I asked, "did you know my parents?" The father answered me with a huge happy grin on his face, "no, but we heard about the accident and we came to do the mitzvah (good deed) of visiting the sick." I felt like saying
that I was so glad that I was hit by a car so they could get their newest merit badge. These were people that were just going through the motions because that was what they were taught to do, not because it is the right thing to do or because they want to help.

I know that none off these people were trying to be hurtful, but they all were. I understand that sometimes people don't know what to say. So don't say anything! And DO NOT ever try and take advantage of someone's loss by trying to get money, or to push your religious agenda. This is called being selfish and emotionally abusive.

The first time I ever went into a house of mourning, my father told me not to say anything, unless someone speaks to me first. This was a great lesson. It lets those grieving have the choice of who to speak to and stops people from feeling the need to have something to say even if they can only come up with half thoughts like those mentioned above. I do really appreciate the good intentions of most of the people who said these things, however, I just wish they had thought before saying such hurtful things.


  1. Your father's advice about shiva was good; someone gave me the same advice years ago and I try to follow it, but it is just so easy to put your foot in your mouth. The things people said to you just take the cake, though. I hope there were some visitors who were able to give you actual words of comfort.

    1. There were many wonderful and supportive visitors that I wrote about how much I appreciate them in previous posts. But there were also these guys.

  2. Excellent advice from you father and something I always do myself.

    >These were people that were just going through the motions because that was what they were taught to do, not because it is the right thing to do or because they want to help.

    I would say something different. It's always better to do the right thing, for the sake of the right thing. But what if we just don't feel like doing it? Sometimes, unless there is a sense of duty and obligation we have towards one another (and not feelings), we will never pick ourselves up to do what is right.