Nobody likes to be called a dummy by a dummy.

I'm somewhat at a loss...

I've just come back from getting pissed after hearing that my old boss (who I still work with from time to time) has just watched her 12-year-old daughter die as a result of a peanut allergy. What, exactly, do you say to someone who's just been through that? I can't think of anything that will adequately convey how abosolutely terrible I feel for her loss, but on the other hand I can't just make out like it didn't happen.

Times like this I get stuck in an odd philosphical position. On the one hand it makes you appreciate what you have, then on the other hand it makes you realise that life is short and there's no time to be wasted just putting up with stuff and that you need to sieze the day, and on the third hand what's the point of getting up in the morning?

Considering I didn't really know the kid -- I probably met her once or twice -- the impact it's had on me is quite disturbing, and I'm kind of worried my depression will kick in again, what with the whole "my girlfriend is a paranoid freak" thing going on at the same time.

Life -- don't talk to me about life...
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 17th, 2006
Hey, my grandma died last friday, and I found out that my friend's husband was killed in a rock climbing accident yesterday. Oh yes, one of my mates died last summer falling off of his roof doing carpentry, and two years ago my girlfriend and three of my friends were killed by a drunk driver in an automobile accident. Life is grand.
Permalink _ 
January 17th, 2006
You ring the phone and the words come tumbling out. I'm sorry for your loss. I can't imagine how you must feel. I rememeber when my grandmother died. You blather on like an idiot and rerun the conversation afterwards in your head making corrections.

Doesn't matter anyway, since the person you will be speaking to is living in a blackhole and is clinically insane at this moment. If they remember your call at all, they will misremember some random snip of it and the reaction is somewhat if not entirely out of your hands.

Make the call. That's the hard part. Phone off the hook. First number, breath, second...
Permalink Kasey 
January 17th, 2006
Grandmas dying I can deal with -- you get old, you die. Adults dying in accidents of their own making is also something that doesn't worry me. A 12-year-old kid going from carefree individual with their whole life ahead of them to brain-dead and requiring their parents to make the decision as to whether to keep them on life-support or not in the space of a day, and all because of a frickin peanut -- that I *cannot* deal with.

Really, honestly, why as a race do we even fucking bother getting up in the morning? Becoming self-aware and capable of abstract thought is the worst thing that ever happened to a species, and if anything disproves the existence of god, this is surely it (unless he's some sort of sick, twisted, sadistic bastard who created us purely so he could pull crap like this).

(Note to self: take day off work and visit doctor tomorrow.)
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 17th, 2006
It is very painful when children die, but we are remarkably insulated from such events in our parts of the world. In other places, children are dying from malaria and other diseases or getting blown up by suicide bombs or missile attacks on a regular basis. Can we truly empathise with the people living in those places? Can we even begin to understand what it is like for them?
Permalink Ian Boys 
January 17th, 2006
Yeah, I see how you feel. It was no big deal getting over my girlfriend of five years and three of my mates getting smeared all over the road and never seeing them again. If one of my old bosses happened to have a death in the family, I'm not sure how I could get up in the morning.
Permalink _ 
January 17th, 2006
"Can we truly empathise with the people living in those places?"

No, and that's what's got me feeling so morbid. Life, taken on aggreagte, is fucking awful, and at any given moment there's so much misery in the world that it's a wonder the human race has made it so far without committing mass suicide. Perhaps that's why we're so inclined to commit acts of war and such like -- deep down we know it's all futile, and even if we sort it out in the short term it's actually completely futile (thank you, thermodynamics), so we might as well put each other out of our collective misery now and avoid generations of tragedy...
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 17th, 2006
at the risk of sounding flippant: this is why God invented alchohol.
Permalink Kenny 
January 17th, 2006
Yeah. I used to work with two different women at the same company who each lost a teenage daughter. I remember the day one of them had a breakdown in my office so I hugged her for ten minutes while I wondered if she was going to make it.

The other woman was so cheerful it was weird. She didn't cry but she talked to me a lot more often after that. I think she sensed my utter loss for words but knew I felt for her situation.

To the first woman, during a company breakfast, I said the wrong thing at one point. She was discussing legal action regarding her daughter's death, and I said "I would simply kill the guy responsible." Everyone got quiet. Uncomfortable moment, that was.
Permalink sharkfish 
January 17th, 2006
It's almost impossible to really completely empathize with someone who's going through some sort of emotional anguish, the best you can do is let them know you're sorry for their loss and that you'll do whatever you can to help. Unless you're a close friend, more than that can just get awkward.

My personal metaphor for death is that it's like a color being removed from the rainbow. You still do all the things you used to do, your dresser is still there, you still drive the car to work, but somehow, everything is different at the same time.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 17th, 2006
The color rainbow thing is nice. If it is your twelve-year old, for the first few days, I imagine it's like no colors at all, no taste, no strength to move and no will to live.

Is it true; Time heals all wounds?
Permalink Kasey 
January 18th, 2006
Mat,

The 12 years that they spent together are priceless.

Perhaps if you know ahead of time that the kid has the allergy you may be less surprised to hear the news and thus feel slighty better than you are now.

No one can take the future for granted ...
Permalink Rick Tang 
January 18th, 2006
How does the human race keep going? By convincing ourselves that bad things only happen to other people, which is partly why we're so shocked when they happen to us.
Things sound pretty shitty from your POV, but try to remember that it is only one POV among millions, and a temporary one for you too.
Consider that your daily dose of unsolicited triteness.
Permalink Andy 
January 18th, 2006
..."I rememeber when my grandmother died."...

Just one comment about this - People in a tragic situation generally don't want to hear about tragic situations other people have been in.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 18th, 2006
You simply call her and let her know that you are thinking/praying about her. Send her a card with a note. Bring her a meal- this is a pretty simple gesture but is a big help and is one less thing to worry about (just bring enough for several people/family members, etc who may be with her).

I remember not *understanding* why my mom always made us go to funerals/call people/send a note/make food for people that we knew but *not real well*- then my wife's mom died of cancer at a pretty young age and people we *didnt know real well* called, sent personal notes or brought us a dish for dinner- it was clearly akward for some of those people and they probably didnt say the most appropriate things all the time but the amazing thing was it was a sense of calm, just knowing people cared enough to make an effort really made a difference. (and people who brought us food, that made that time ao much less hectic)
Mike
Permalink MikeG 
January 18th, 2006
> What, exactly, do you say to someone who's just been through that?

"Wanna go halves on a replacement?"
Permalink  
January 18th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

Other topics: January, 2006 Other topics: January, 2006 Recent topics Recent topics