Emily McDowell developed stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 24. As she went through life dealing with it, she encountered what many people dealing with serious illness or personal tragedy face, the utter cluelessness of even well meaning people who somehow, with all the options available to them, manage to say exactly the wrong thing.
In order to help such people out, she has created a set of greeting cards to both amuse and enlighten. They are excellent and this one is my favorite.
One commenter on McDowell’s blog recounted her own experience with people who say this kind of thing.
I only had two early miscarriages and that was hard enough. I can imagine someone saying that things happen for a reason and asking acidly “And what do you think this reason might be? To see how much one person can cry?”.
One person told me that it was God’s will and I told her that God could kiss my ass. I would also have really appreciated one of these cards.
Many of the commenters to her blog indicated that this was their favorite card too, suggesting to me that this is one of the most common things that are said. This is puzzling. Why on Earth would you think that it would make someone feel better to tell them that they were specially picked out by a god (or the fates) to suffer? I think it all goes back to the Job story but even he did not seem particularly soothed by his friends’ suggestions that he must have somehow deserved it.