Monday, August 14, 2023

"At Least She Didn't Suffer"

The following is a post on what may become a series.  If you have been through a death of a parent, consider this what the young'uns call a 'trigger warning' as it deals with the raw emotions of an unexpected death which includes cursing and not holding back my feelings about my experience.  If you are new here and want to see the posts leading up to this one, you can start with posts on July 7th and go forward with the most recent before this one being this one and this one.


If I heard those words in the title one more time during Mom's visitation, I was going to peel my skin off and run outside screaming.  I know people say stupid shit at funerals in a poor attempt to comfort you but this is the one that had the Mr and I giving each other side eye the most when trying to get through it.  I know you think that if an illness is brief, it must've been nothing more than inconvenient or mildly painful compared to the ups and downs of trying chemo, getting your scans and that whole process.  It's not.  If I were interested in burning my life down before leaving everything behind to start a new life in a different country, the next person to say that would've driven me to make this declaration:

"To those of you telling her family that at least she didn't suffer, shut the f*ck up!  I know you mean well, I know you think that because she "only" fought this for a month and didn't get to have chemo that she was somehow spared.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The families who were there every day keep a lot from you not just today but by our email and text updates.  We pretty things up to comfort you so that you don't have to endure the ugly truth of what we had to witness and process every day.  Days and nights of discomfort progressing to yelps of inconsolable pain that we had to helplessly watch with no way to relieve it.  Praying the pain meds or adjustments so she wouldn't get bed sores would somehow ease her suffering.  Us watching crippling panic attacks send her swirling into uncontrollable shaking as she processed each new piece of bad news delivered to her what seemed like every other day and having her admit that she cried at night alone so she wouldn't upset people.  Do you know what that does to your soul to hear that??  Then seeing her struggle and then be unable to communicate with us when she clearly had a lot she wanted to say that was important to her.  We watched her get neglected at a horrible facility for 2 1/2 days despite having a camera right at the end of her bed and finally had to call 911 to get her the hell out because her pain had gotten uncontrollable and they had no intention of helping her.  

For those of you crying hearing this, I haven't even begun to touch on how she spent the last three days of her life in so much pain screaming how she couldn't do it anymore, her anxiety and pain so high that a dose of fentanyl couldn't relieve it.  Listening to her trying desperately to get out an end of life checklist we would never be able to decipher.  Listening to the sounds she made as they found the "right" concoction to make the screaming and wincing stop only to be introduced to a new circle of hell knowing you were days or hours from her slipping away.  Me trying to comfort her with stories and memories and getting that treasured faint hand squeeze letting me know she can hear me.  Spending your last moments on earth with her trying to bring comfort with her favorite songs, apologizing for every shitty way you ever might've been to her over your life and agonizing over lost time.  Trying to send her off with words of comfort as your tears stream down her cheeks, knowing you will never see her again in the form you've always known.  You would never feel those arms wrapped around you again, see her sweet smile or call me sweetie.  So no, she didn't suffer for years but she suffered enough in those 30 days to fill two years.  For those of us who got to witness it, we saw enough haunting things both in and out of our control for us to suffer the rest of our lives.  So can your "at least she didn't suffer" bullshit because she did.  We are.  The only person who didn't was you.  Pray to God you or someone you love will never have to endure what she and we did for 30 days and find a new phrase.  "This sucks and I'm sorry" will suffice."

So yeah.  If you've ever uttered that phrase to a grieving family, please don't anymore.  I know it may have seemed well intentioned but you don't know what the person or family really went through.  Death is fucking messy and painful and there is not a person in my life that has died that has passed peacefully or miraculously in their sleep with nary a lick of pain preceding it.  That shit is fairy tales or movie fodder or saved for a lucky 1%.  So just say they were a wonderful person, this sucks and you have no words that you feel are adequate because you may be one well intentioned "at least they didn't suffer " from learning the truth.


If you or someone you know is going through a grief process, you may find these resources given to me by a friend helpful:

Crisis Text Line or text 741741

Books I'm currently reading:

Follow me on Bloglovin. Some posts may contain affiliate links that help keep this blog running at no cost to you.  See the Disclaimer page for more info.  Copyright Success Along the Weigh


  1. an I get an eff yes?!!
    Emptiest, most clueless tone deaf comment uttered the most often at funerals or memorials.
    You took the words outta my brain.
    Add a sprinkle of "if there is anything you need or i can, do call me".
    That line immediately tells me the person uttering it has been fortunate enough up to today to have not gone through the death journey with someone they loved.
    It took me involuntary joining the shitty club I call "Losers of life's MVPs" club for me to "get it".
    Mama's suffering is over as yours continues.

  2. I love how people jump to that conclusion. It's like, what, exactly, is your definition of suffering anyway? I think some people would take the option of suffering through chemotherapy VS being noted as "terminal", which is it's own hellish form of suffering when even something as basic as an IV of fluids is no longer "allowed".

    As Dawn says above, that is a tone-deaf statement and it's something that people need to drop from their repertoire of responses to people in a funeral service setting because we truly all do have different versions of what suffering is and it's just not for any of us to assume for others.

  3. Any sentence that starts with "At least...." should never be spoken at a funeral or to a person who's just lost someone. There is no "at least" about it in any way, shape, or form. Empty platitudes make you feel more...well, empty, and the void is big enough without adding useless phrases that are not at all helpful. One that puts me through the roof as well is, "Everything happens for a reason." No it doesn't. We can't just explain away why things happen to make it sound more acceptable. We don't need to understand death or try to figure out the reason why it happened the way it happened. None of that softens the blow. Some of the best responses I've received were non-verbal. Just a great big hug, that held on tight, shared tears, and a nod of understanding. Those were the ones who I knew got me right where I was at with no pressure to move me from that spot. I'm so sorry you had to sit through those empty platitudes because they weren't the least bit comforting. Big hugs to you. xoxoxo


Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciate your time! (Heads up though...disrespectful or spam comments will be deleted.)