What Not to Say to Widows

As a widow, I’ve had people say hurtful things after Donnie died. It took me years to realize that they just didn’t really understand how they sounded. I’m sure that most of them didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, but they did.

  1. Anna Stone
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    My husband and I made this list together after about a year of his cancer diagnosis. I think it goes hand in hand with the content of this video.

    TOP TEN THINGS NEVER TO SAY TO A PERSON DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER

    1. But you look so good.
    2. My cousin (brother, grandmother, neighbor’s dog’s uncle…) died with (INSERT TYPE) cancer.
    3. I can’t stop worrying about you. I am just so stressed out since I heard about you.
    4. What’s the prognosis?
    5. Why didn’t you tell me sooner? / I can’t believe you told Bob before me.
    6. Who’s your doctor? Where are you receiving care?
    7. I’ve researched your cancer and I know all about it.
    8. You should quit smoking. And change your diet. Maybe try some herbs.
    9. I don’t think you understand your treatment completely.
    10. Say nothing. Completely check out.

    The most hurtful thing said to me after he passed was, “I know exactly how you feel…I’m divorced.” I wanted to scream. Of course, it seems that people tend to say ridiculous things like this when we’re newly widowed and walking in a numbing fog of existence.

    You’re right though – it is a very lame attempt by others to be helpful or sympathetic. Still….ARGH!

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