Shit, That's a Fucker
Why is it that our wonderful descriptive ever evolving language has no truly acceptable words to convey to a person who has experienced a life changing event such as diagnosis of a serious illness, how we actually feel, apart from cursing Shit That's a Fucker?
It fits the bill perfectly! When we hear someone's news it makes us feel: awful, heartbroken, scared, sad, desperate to help, hopeful. Yet we can never convey this. Instead we come out with:
- I'm so sorry
- I know how you feel
- Try not worry
- It's happened to my 2nd cousin
- I have had some experience not to this degree but..
- Be positive
- On the bright side...
- The survival rates are really high
- Modern medicine nowadays is wonderful
- The doctors and nurses will really look after you
- It's not as bad as you think
- Chin up
- Get better soon
All these have wonderful sentiment behind them and we all say them with every good intention. We want to help, we want to take the pain away, we don't want that person to go through that experience. We want the World to be a kinder and less cruel place. But our Society has developed to make us feel compelled to try to jolly up the diagnosed person, to not allow them to wallow in any self pity or look on any kind of bleak side. So we spout forth the above platitudes, feeling shallow and vacuous as we say them, questioning ourselves as the words fall out of our mouths "Is this really the right thing to say?".
Well here is the answer, no! It most definitely is not.
All the above make the person on the receiving end feel: not listened to, dismissed, belittled, unimportant, stupid, a hypochondriac, a failure, confused, a depressive, not able cope as well as obviously everyone else can.
This person already has every intention of being super positive, doing all the stuff that's required, smiling every day, being grateful, knowing it could be so much worse. Being 100% certain it will be OK. But just for now, just for this moment of telling you something that you are not going to want to hear, the jolliness is too fake to be believable. A deeper level of communication is required, a reaching out and a receipt and acknowledgement of understanding. Simple uncomplicated human emotion.
Instead of embracing this connection of souls, we dismiss that opportunity, choosing instead to waffle on using language never used in any other area of our lives, apart from when we have no time for someone and want to move on from them unaffected, like the smelly person in the queue, the stressed out mum with tantrum throwing toddler, the nerdy slightly on the spectrum person. All the people that we offer a platitude to, because we are nice, but quickly move on from. We all do it, accept it! So why do we allow our language to classify our friend into that same category? We don't want that, we don't mean for that to happen!
Why does our communication let us down? Why do we persist with getting it wrong? Dunkirk Spirit? Or dull acceptance of convention? Do we fall back on what we think should be done because we don't what to hurt anyone and convention protects us?
It's time to change it.
Remove the above platitudes from our conventional safe conversation. Face what is in front of us. Face our own mortality. Face the fact we are powerless and cannot fix things. Let's stop making it about us. Let's make it about the person telling us their news. Listen to them, hear them out, take in and absorb what you've been told and respond with..
Shit, That's a Fucker!
Because it really is.