What do you think?

This is a story I read someplace years ago.   Because I remember it twenty or thirty years later, it obviously made a great impression on me.

“I was in a grocery store” a woman wrote.  “Pushing the cart around when a lady approached me and said, ‘Cheer up!  You look so sad.  Nothing can be that bad.’   I watched her bustle away as tears rolled down my cheeks.   My son had died four days earlier.  This was the first time I’d gone shopping and not bought  his favorite foods.”

Another story.  The writer had been diagnosed with a serious but not immediately fatal disease.  The first time she attended a support group for people with this diagnosis, she listened for a few minutes, then stood and said, “You’re all so depressed and depressing.  I’m not going to allow this to ruin my life.   You have to learn to  get over this.”  I didn’t read any more of the book.

What do you think about these stories?  I’m going to give you a few minutes to think.  Then, as usual, I’m going to give my opinion.


Okay, here are my thoughts.   There are people who believe we should be smiling all the time.  These people may have a mental condition or they may just be thoughtless and insensitive.   Normal people grieve.  Normal people don’t smile all the time.  Normal people are often in a blanced mood, neither up or down.  Normal people don’t tell others how they should feel without knowing their histories–or, even if they do know their backgrounds.  It’s not a bit hlepful.

With the second story, I truly believe the writer thought she’d sent a good and optimistic message to that group.  She hadn’t.   Any time we’re diagnosed with an illness, it’s unsettling.  Joining a support group is a healthy  step.  I have the same disease this writer had and learned a great deal in the support group I attended.   I wonder if the seriousness of this problem ever hit this woman or if she’s lived in constant denial.

My ultimate thought is that we love and support others.  We don’t judge others because we do not know what others are experiencing.  One of my favorite quotes is about:  Be kind because everyone you meet is facing a hard battle.

8 thoughts on “What do you think?

  1. In the first story, the woman probably thought she was being helpful with her cheer up attitude. But she was being ignorant and insensitive. If seeing someone sad distressed her so much, she could have asked and offered appropriate comments.
    The second story, the problem isn’t what she said so much as how she said it. She was telling everyone else how they should handle the situation. If her comments had been about how she intended to move forward, it could have been uplifting. Instead she made people already going through a difficult situation feel bad because their honest feelings upset her.

    1. I agree with you! With the first, tho, I believe there is a group of people who believe it is there duty to cheer everyone up. They should also realize that people who are always smiling probably are bipolar manic. Being sad is normal. With the second, yes, I agree with every word. In my diabetis group. one of the man had just found out he was diabetic and had a blood sugar level of 300–he was really sick and worried.

  2. Yes, Jane, that’s important for me to remember. When someone cuts me off in traffic, is rude to me on the phone or otherwise just behaving like a jerk, I send them blessings and send them on…or at least I try to…

  3. Jane, I’m afraid I’m one of those people, have been all my life. For some strange reason I got the idea at an early age that my job in this world was to make things ok for people. It was just awful for my children. I wanted to fix their hurts. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand that they had to be sad sometimes but that I couldn’t make the sadness go away all the time. It took many years to allow them to have a broken heart or depression. To realize that I alone couldn’t make them happy at times,and that life and heart aches go hand and hand. I now try real hard not to be the fixer of all things but a supported of life.

    Good topic.

    Hattie Mae

    1. Hattie Mae, I don’t think you were like this at all!!! You acted out of love–even though as you look back, it might not have been the best reaction. These two women acted out of misplaced idea that the had the right to interfer in the lives of others, to judge people they’d never met fromtheir own feeling of superiority.

  4. I have a funny tale to tell about grief. My stepfather had cancer, which had gone to his brain, making him angry and ugly to my poor beleaguered Mother. Every time visitors came by to see him, he told them how awful and cruel she was to him (totally not true), embarrassing her terribly. He was demanding and rude and downright hateful to her.

    When he finally died, she was so relieved to be out from under his yoke. For the first year after he died my mother was so happy. When she would go to church, invariably, at least one person would take her hand, look her in the eyes, and say, “Margaret, how are you doing?” in a sympathetic tone of voice.

    She would cheerfully say, “I’ve doing really well, thank you.” However, she began to realize that it would undo some people. They expected her to be really sad. She told me that she had to be careful to mumble something appropriate for a new widow to them. We both had a good laugh about that.

    About a year after his death, though, it hit her hard, and she became very depressed. Finally, she grieved.

    1. Often, those mixed feelings (gald he’s gone–but he was my husband) are the hardest to deal with. You must be psychic–I was just thinking about blogging sometime on how I learned to answer the question, “How are you doing?” after George died.

Comments are closed.