You can’t comfort cancer patients with Precious Moments greeting cards

 
I encountered this passage in a book I read and let’s just say I exhaled. I felt understood.

Take a look:

        “You hear a lot of nonsense in hospitals and funeral homes. God had a plan, we just don’t know what that is. Maybe God took your daughter because he needs another angel in heaven. But when I’ve experienced loss and felt so much pain that it feels like nothing else ever existed, the last thing I need is a well-meaning but vapid person saying that when God closes a door he opens a window. It makes me want to ask where exactly that window is so I can push him the fuck out of it.

       But this is the nonsense spawned from bad religion. And usually when you are grieving and someone says something so senselessly optimistic to you, it’s about them. Either they want to feel like they can say something helpful, or they simply cannot allow themselves to entertain the finality and pain of death, so instead they turn it into a Precious Moments greeting card. I’ve both had these things said to me and have been the one to say them. But as a chaplain, I felt that people really just needed me to mostly shut the hell up and deal with the reality of how painful it all is.”

-Nadia Bolz-Weber,
excerpted from Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint

 

When I think back on the painful things people have said to me over the past few months, I don’t feel that White Hot Rage anymore. Instead I feel a deep sadness, and can know for sure it wasn’t about me and it was always about them.

The comments a la Precious Moments I received were born out of thoughtlessness and selfishness, and knowing that, it doesn’t hurt me so much.

So now instead I mourn a world where we so detached (or sanitized, I might say) from dealing with humans and death and tragedy and darkness, that we have to resort to, in Nadia’s words, “senselessly optimistic” Christian catch phrases, the sort of nonsense where we have lots of coping and not much emoting, where we don’t know how to comfort, only how to oversimplify and plaster things on top of our pain.

This whole experience, this cancer, awful and devastating as it is, is teaching me so much, making my heart softer, more breakable, more loving, more understanding.

And hopefully, it’s going to enable me to act out in love for that next person who comes up against an un-Precious-Moment-able-moment in their lives.

At least I sure hope it does.

 

Order Pastrix here, read Nadia’s blog here, visit her website here.

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  • Sarah Varadi Miller

    One stage of grieving I was never told about is getting mad at God and the resulting guilt that brought me. No more advice from me. Just know that you and BJ are in my thoughts and prayers and love you so very much.

    • http://andreaenright.net Andrea Enright

      That is definitely a stage a grief, and one of the hardest to get out of. It’s hard because people aren’t very good at TALKING about grief. We keep to ourselves. That’s why I’m trying to write about it and through it. So grateful you’re listening AND praying for me. Love you.

    • http://andreaenright.net/ Andrea Enright

      That is definitely a stage a grief, and one of the hardest to get out of. It’s hard because people aren’t very good at TALKING about grief. We keep to ourselves. That’s why I’m trying to write about it and through it. So grateful you’re listening AND praying for me. Love you.