I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Still Laughing

I briefly considered giving up on blogging entirely... in a world that seems to have suddenly gone quiet, what could I possibly have to blog about? Then I remembered that my Mom reads my blog almost every day, that it's her "It's 4 pm and I'm restless at work" comedic relief, and I realised that if I stopped blogging, I'd be taking a little sunshine out of her life.

So, Mom, here it is. I can't guarantee I'll always be witty or funny or even entertaining, but I can guarantee I'll be there for you - as a blogger or otherwise.


One of the more amusing aspects of having a loved one pass away is that you get to see human nature at work. All sorts of people really come out of the woodwork - the friends you thought were close suddenly disappear, the ones you thought were far away come closer, and you realise that your world is much bigger than you would have thought. In a situation like this, people often do not know what to say to you. What could they possibly say which might make you feel better?

The truth is that all we really want to hear is that you are thinking of us, and that you're there. A word of advice - don't wait for the person in need to call you. Just DO stuff for them without being asked. They aren't going to find the time to make phone calls asking for stuff. Bring over a meal, call to say hello (and don't expect a reply), send a care package - whatever. Just don't say "call me if you need me"... because the last thing we're thinking about is calling people.

Actually the same was true when the triplets were born. I had my hands full enough without thinking, "I really should call so-and-so and ask them to do XYZ." The people I appreciated the most were the ones who called, sent food, made phone calls, just DID stuff for me. The people who frustrated me were the ones who would call, hear how overwhelmed I was and then say in an insulted voice, "But why didn't you call me?"

Ahem. Exactly WHICH one of us is in need here?

Trust me. You won't be getting in the way, bothering anybody, annoying people, or being a nuisance if you are actually DOING something to help without being asked. Don't know what I like to eat? Bring fruit. Don't want to get in my way? Send a text or leave a message. There are so many ways you can help a friend without annoying them. And if you DO bring over something I don't like? Believe me, I'll appreciate the gesture anyway.

Anyway so one great source of amusement for my family was the horrendously inappropriate comments people would make. Every night we'd sit down together, hashing over the day and just connecting to one another - and we'd nominate the "most inappropriate comment of the day" one of us had received. Several times my sister and Mom told me to blog about it - because some of them were really winners. I realise all these people meant well. I realise people who don't know what to say often say the wrong thing. I realise that none of these comments come from a malicious intent, but I also realise these are the funny as hell moments you need to hang onto when you feel as though your world is crumbling.

Without further ado, here are some of the best comments we, as a family, received during the days following: (in no particular order)

1) "Didn't I see you at the kosher butcher today? I'm sure I saw you there, don't you remember?" [my sister replies that no, she wasn't there...because really, we all go food shopping two days after our Dad's funeral, right?] "But I'm SURE it was you! Really, I saw you there!" [continue argument ad naseum]

2) "Hey, I saw you hugging [my son.] You guys make a great couple! *nudge, nudge*"

3) "You look SO much thinner than the last time I saw you! Grief obviously suits you!" [This one, I just stood there, mouth agape. I could think of no witty response.]

4) "You know, you're all alone now. Your kids will go back to their lives and leave you. You'll be all. on. your. own. Sitting in that big, lonely house, all by yourself...how are you going to cope? You're going to be so lonely..." [and so on and so forth.]

5) "The pain will never, ever go away. You might learn how to cope with it, but the pain will never end."

6) "There will forever be a giant hole in your heart. You'll walk around feeling like there is a part of you missing, forever."

7) [automated phone] "Hello, this is Kaiser Permanente. We're calling to do a short phone survey with {my Dad} to see how he's enjoying the service he's receiving from us. Please press 1 if you are willing to take part in our customer service satisfaction survey." (I wonder if there is there a "press 1" for you assholes killed my father through mis-diagnosis?)

8) "There is nothing worse in life than losing a husband. You'll never recover."

9) "So, tell me! How *are* you?" [My Mom's reply was, "How do you THINK I am?"... which often made the person realise what a dumb thing it was to ask in the first place!]

...and so on and so forth. There were so many of these, it became almost a sport to see which of us had the best ones every night. While it might be that some of the above statements are true, it's not really all that comforting to hear, is it? I know people are well meaning, but...geesh, people! You're not helping. We're Jews, we don't do emotion. We do food. Bring over a poppy seed cake and stuff a piece in your mouth so that you don't say anything stupid, okay?

And consider this blog your Public Service Announcement for the day. Next time you've got a friend in need or grief, don't point out to them that their life from here on in will suck. Newsflash: They already know. Just sayin'.


Claire - Matching Pegs said...

Well I'm laughing now too!

In some ways I think the reason the average person, (that goes quiet and disappears at these times) does it is because they are worried they will say the wrong thing.

My theory was always that the risk of saying something slightly off key, was in some ways, better than saying nothing, or pretending nothing had happened.

You have just shot that theory out of the water. Where DO you find these people?

Oh and I guess you probably know Em that over time I have had a lot of incidents to weed out the real friends from not real friends, what with my twin brother in and out of Psych wards. Makes people disappear a lot like death does.

I think it has to do with fear, and the realization that life can just change in an instant - some people think it is catching.

I am glad you were all together to have a laugh at the bizarre things people say - it is true - you have to laugh sometimes, or you will just cry.

I have been thinking about you lots - I am sure getting on that plane to come home was a pretty extreme emotional experience.

M.Biddle said...

Reading this blog entry has me all kinds of emotional. I'm sad for all of you because, as you have already been told, you will never, ever, ever, EVER have even the slightest iota of a shimmer of a glimpse of a bit of anything even remotely resembling or coming close to joy.ever.again.

(mentally smacking the melons of those who said this, in big and small ways, to you and your loved ones)

Okay (wiping sarcasm from my chin)...seriously, your blog entry leaves me all kinds of emotional. Happy to hear from you and feel that connection with you once again. Sad because you are sad. Amused because like you I have to look for the humor or else I'd end up hurting someone. Touched because...well, you are such a great writer I feel close to you even though you are on the opposite side of this terrestrial ball.

I have to say your blog entry also educated me on things that I need to know. I promise to take your advice to heart and limit my number of bonehead comments by stuffing cake in my mouth.

I really love cake.