Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bad Times, Bad Manners

(The following, I know, is not my most well-written attempt.  You may be asking, "Is any of this blog particularly well-written, Beth?  Do you really need the disclaimer?"  To which I reply, "Up yours, Smart Guy."  It's written out of love, of which I know a little, and snarkiness, of which I know alot.  If you can relate and find a chuckle or two, then I know it's a success.  If not, perhaps you should take a good, hard look at yourself and find another blogger to bother.  I got bigger fish to fry than you, Chief)

No loss is ever easy, but the loss my family and I experienced last month really hit below the belt.

But I don't want to talk about it.

What I do want to talk about, boys and girls, is the ‘what to do and say' vs. the 'what not to do and say’ when someone passes.   Before I begin, however, I must preface it by acknowledging that there are an awful lot of classy people out there who’ve helped us out tremendously during this time.  Words cannot express how much your deeds, words, prayers, and good energy mean to us.  We are lucky – still incredibly sad, but lucky in that we have your support and friendship.

I don’t think anyone really knows, exactly, what to do during a loss.  Sure, there exist certain things that need to be figured out fairly quickly, and we were extremely fortunate to have someone who spearheaded it all on our behalf.  Many people simply want to reach out and do something.  Food preparation is always a nice gesture, as is dropping off paper goods.  Light housekeeping, laundry, walking the dogs, and such – much appreciated.  Knowing when to be there, and knowing when to make yourself scarce– that’s important, too.  Donating time or money to a worthy cause in memory of someone – perfect.  All those little things make a huge difference.

So with that being said, let’s take a peek at the ‘oh no you didn’t’ side of things (because it's me, after all, and my blog, and we're not going anywhere until I call out certain behaviors):

Inane Chatter – I’ve never been a big fan, and I wholeheartedly believe the world would be a much better place if everyone would just shut up for at least a little while.  When dealing with something tremendously heavy, the last thing we want to hear about is Ethel’s rosebushes.

Drawing Comparisons – I lost my father nine years ago; you, perhaps, have lost yours as well.  That’s common ground.  The phrase, “I know how you feel” applies.  “I know how you feel” does not apply in every situation, particularly in a situation that is quite out of the ordinary. Comparing one loss to another is unbelievably self-centered, I think.  Misery doesn’t love company – at least mine doesn’t.

Complaints– No one thrives upon another's gripes.  You’re mad at your brother – big deal.  Your toilet leaks – so what.  You’ve got the blues in the night – who doesn’t?   Figure out how to deal with it without dumping it on someone else and move on.

Don’t Judge and Don’t Hassle – about anything a grieving person is doing or not doing.  I mean, if they start taking hard-core, illegal drugs, you might say something, but if they’re skipping a meal or smoking a cigarette, that’s really none of your concern.

Don’t Expect to Be Fed – This actually happened when my dad passed.  He had barely been taken to the funeral home when someone showed up ‘out of concern’ and then asked my mother why no one from the community had brought any food.  Pal, if you’re hankering for a casserole, go home and make it yourself.

Don’t Post Sad/Bad News on Social Media Sites – We know what happened, so we don’t need a link to remind us of it.  I actually took a pre-emptive strike and contacted people who needed to know, and kindly asked them to relay to others that any messages for us should be sent privately.  Why the pre-emptive strike?  Because I can name at least four people who would have posted something on Facebook had word not gotten out that such an act would be considered highly unfavorable, to put it mildly.

Don’t Complain About Your Kids – Hug them tightly.

Small Acts of Kindness Go A Long Way – I haven’t paid for a drink in a month, and I am much obliged to friends and club owners for that.

Don’t Wear Your House Shoes to a Funeral – another winner from my dad’s passing.

Don't Say the Following:

He/she is in a better place (perhaps true if they’re aged and ill, but still…)

I told him not to buy that damn boat (particularly if the boat had nothing to do with his demise)

We became close…very, very close…as close as any man or woman can be (someone actually stated this at a memorial service for a friend of mine – gossip ensued)

She led a secret life (evidently, judging from what the jackass above just said)

I could go on, but I won’t.  Again, though, let me reiterate that generous and thoughtful people live and love in this world, and I appreciate them.  And when you get down to it, that’s what really matters – people.  Not money, not possessions, not jobs, not those day-to-day tiny inconveniences.  In the grand scheme of things should be a phrase that’s positioned first and foremost in our minds. 

Think, too, about the legacy you want to leave.  Do you want to be remembered as someone who enjoyed life, who brought along a certain amount of vibrancy everywhere you went?  Someone who was an absolute joy to be around?

Or do you want to be the house-shoe- wearing, complaining- about-your-kid, no-casserole-having- numbnut?

Think about it.


Ps… If this particular little musing resonated with you on any level, kindly make a donation to The Monarch School ( in memory of Stephanie Kirkpatrick, who always giggled when Aunt Beth used the term 'numbnut'.