I’m sure anyone dealing with any kind of crisis is met, at times, with certain degrees of ignorance by, perhaps otherwise, well meaning people.  But being well meaning does not make ignorant comments more palatable.

In grief, some of those ignorant comments are

“she’s in a better place now”


“it’s time for you to move on now isn’t it?”

Things like that speak more to the person’s discomfort who’s delivering the line than the person receiving it.  No, they are not in a “better place” as the “best place” for them to be is right next to me is how most people will feel, especially right at the beginning.  And the timing people move on is dictated by their own process and no one else’s.

I get it, people don’t know what to say so they will resort to platitudes but you know the people who’ve walked a grief path by the way they respond in the moment.

Supportive words are more about meeting people right where they are, not trying to pull them out of it.  Words like “I know you are in a world of hurting right now but I’m not leaving your side”.

Another phrase that I’ve learned to loathe and do my best to avoid is “if there’s anything you need, just let me know”.  Why that bugs me is that the phraser has just laid another burden on the griever.  Well two burdens.  One is to identify something they might actually need when they are just trying to remember if they brushed their teeth that day.  And two, it’s making them have to ask for it.

I think it’s not that hard to just intuit what anyone might need in that kind of crisis and just do it.  The people that are the best at supporting someone in a crisis are the ones who just move in to action.  They show up with food.  They show up with some kind of comfort anything.  They reach in to your life vs. pull away and make you reach in to theirs.  Most of the time there’s rarely a wrong thing to offer.  The offering is the ice cream.  What you’re holding in your outstretched arms is the cherry.


I ran in to one of those ignorant comments this morning about John.

I’ve shared about John on a public forum I’ve participated on for years that focuses on crime.  Before I started this blog, I posted on there quite a bit about our struggles but now just little snippets as people on there are concerned about him. About us.  I was attending a trial and posting regularly on it and during one month of that John was in the hospital.  I literally spent my days working in the morning, attending the trial in the afternoon and visiting John in the hospital in the evenings for a solid month.  It was a grueling time but I did it.  I know many of you readers from that time and appreciate so much your support.  But occasionally many of you know, have run in to a nastigram on that forum.

What I opened my ipad to this morning was this.  This was posted in response to my sharing about the fried chicken, mac and cheese, green beans meal I brought home for John when he first came to stay with me.  When his voices were at a level 10 and I was doing my best to keep him out of the hospital.

Yet this stranger on this public forum, felt the need to share these words with me, I suppose in some desire to help:

Give him the juice too! All the crappy foods can’t help? wow Give him better foods. You work in the healing arts … right?

Then I guess the pedestal she had placed herself on wasn’t quite feeling high enough so she felt the need to bolster that comment with this one:

No white foods. No deep fried junk. There is a lot you can do without feeding him the junk . foods. That stuff is not giving anybody a favor. Sorry, but true.

Ok, now that you’ve had a moment to digest that, I will say that I really hate it when someone uses a “sorry” like that in a passive aggressive way.  I just had conversation about this recently.  If you’re going to apologize, then apologize.  If not, then you’re not “sorry”.  Someone shared something with me the other day about a person stating “I’m sorry you got so triggered by my words”.  Now that is the farthest thing from an apology.  It’s a digging in to the words that were hurtful and passive aggressively blaming the person for reacting to them.  That kind of stuff just really bugs me.  It’s just so condescending and inauthentic.

Now back to this other judgmental “helper”.  I don’t even think she levied these words about me publicly to be helpful.  I think she just did it to be better than me.  To my knowledge this poster has never, not on any occasion, offered support to me about the situation with my brother or anything.  But I do know she’s benefited by the sharing I offered from the Jodi Arias trial in to that forum after posting my trial notes from nearly every day of attending that trial.  Yet somehow she felt close enough to me to so rudely offer her condescension.

How do you think John would have felt, after hallucinating for days and being in a full blown psychotic crisis and not eating, if I had said “now you’re going to come stay with me and you’re going on a juice fast because you need it”.  Vs. what he got: a blanket and a plate of his favorite comfort foods.  Which do you think might make you better?


This is how I responded to that ignorance:

Thank you for your “concern” but I know my brother and what I can control, what he will eat and not.eat when he’s in a crisis. The night before i gave him that comfort food dinner he had diet coke and cigarettes for dinner. i was happy to just see him eat food. Am I supposed to take away his cigarettes too? Yes I work in the healing field and I’m choosing my battles.

I welcome you to keep your judgment to yourself. You don’t know either of us or our situation. Thankfully I don’t judge my brother like you are judging me.

Oh and one more thing…a “sorry” delivered like that isn’t really an apology is it? It’s more a passive aggressive slap.

Maybe I should have ignored and just let it go.  But Ricki Lake didn’t call me a Bad Ass for nothing.  If I’m gonna stand at the front lines on anything, I’m gonna stand there for myself. Definitely I’m standing there for John.  Maybe one day I will transcend the need to fight back but I’m in a fighting mode right now and I’m not gonna tolerate that kind of bullshit.

And I consider my public response right back to her, as well as this post right here, a Public Service Announcement.

Don’t do that to someone in a crisis.  Don’t say ignorant things to people dealing with grief.  It really is best to say nothing.  Keep your judgments about how they are doing it all wrong to yourself and that high horse you are bouncing on.

I’ll just leave it on this quote:

“Those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those of us who are doing it”

And if anyone wonders why I moderate comments on this blog, this is why.  It’s very few and far between but the Internet breeds cowards and fools.  Thankfully the vast majority of you reading are so far the opposite of that, it’s not a huge issue.

But to the tiny minority of nasty minded people out there, I say this, I’m a triple Scorpio and I know how to use this tail.

To quote another friend quoting another friend,” I’m nice until I’m not”.

Now to my little friend, I’ll offer you these little gifts next time you’re in a full blown crisis.



Happy Chewing!

To quote Stephen Colbert, “you’re welcome!”.

32 thoughts on “ignorance

  1. Meme Jones

    Kathy, I admire you so much! Those who do not “walk in your shoes” have absolutely no idea what you or your brother need to do. I would not begin to advise you. I will however hope and pray that your brother’s new medicines help him, and that you continue to be the happy, caring person I have come to know and admire through this blog. Thank you for inspiring me.

  2. Laura Jackson

    Oh, KCL, a triple Scorpio! Whooooeee! Me too!, also my sister. My sister is sweet and soft spoken, until she’s not! Just like that! Now I know why I like you so much. When the scorpion stinger comes out, usually its’ jab is very accurate, and right on. I love the picture of the comfort foods, no wonder your brother likes them.me, too. And the advice About what not to say to someone in crisis is so valuable. The internet just makes people, in their anonymity, say things they never would to your face. It’s changing our culture for the worse. When yur life is full of stress, the jerks
    trend to stand out. I’m sorry (really) that you areare going thru a hard time as you try and balance your life with now being so close to your brother. Being hits

  3. There are days I wish I wasn’t so meek and spoke up more than I generally do. You truly inspire me. John’s meal reminded me of when my dad was dying and unable to eat much. He wanted ice-cream (but someone didn’t think that was good for him) …..I was so angry and right then I realized — give them whatever makes the moment better for them!

    KCL, I was upset all through your post……….until I came to the last pic. I nearly blew my milk across the screen!! ROLF was quite the opposite of how I expected to feel at the end. But I did, I do, and I love you!!!

  4. Laura Jackson

    Sorry, hard to post from my phone. I’m trying to say that you are doing a good job helping brother. I’d be honored to have you as my other sister. Go scorpios 😉

  5. jpaulaj

    I’m speechless. . .
    You’ve said it all so I’ve nothing to add but my Love and Hugs.


  6. MsDeb

    Kathy, you are/were far kinder than I could have been! Usually, this type of advice comes from someone who is so far removed from adversity that they are totally unaware of how they would react in a similar situation. They talk the talk, but I doubt they could walk the walk. It’s almost as though they believe their good fortune came to them as some sort of ‘gift’ bestowed by the gods as a reward for their being superior…it would be funny if it weren’t so narcissistic!! You are an amazing person, and I have been able to see that just by reading the blogs since the Travis Alexander trial (stabby shall remain nameless).

  7. Lynn (tryaljunkie2 on twitter)

    LMAO! happy chewing! unless you’re in the situation, no one has a clue how difficult it is. i have an aspergers son, and because of the tastes and textures, he eats ALOT of junk food. but he’s eating. you are the best one to know what to do and how to do it. i never ask advice from anyone about him because no one knows him like i do. the only advice i seek is how I can learn the best ways to help him. any kind of brain thing is draining. it’s exhausting explaining to him the things most people would take for granted in the social arena. but it’s not a choice. i have to do it because how else will he learn? the more he understands the better his behavior. keep doing what you are doing. there will always be someone out there with misguided advice and ignorant views.

  8. Patty Raddock

    Oh, Kathy! I felt like I was at a boxing match and I was right there with you, urging you on! I hate hate hate snoots like that, and you’ve just taken one for the team, and thrown it back brilliantly! Keep it up, Karhy!

  9. Angie

    Kathy thank you for posting this brilliantly written response to your poster’s ignorance and insensitivity. I also appreciate the nuggets of wisdom to the rest of us that might unkowingly say something insensitive to someone hurting. I love you more and more my dear friend!! Xoxo

  10. Rae Rae

    Thank you for helping make it clear what not to say to someone grieving. It’s often difficult to know what to say. I love your blog and your sharing of Alphonse. I want to give you both a great big hug! By the way, the fried chicken looks amazing. It’s one of my favorite comfort foods. John is in very good hands.

  11. Heather

    Oh, Kathy… I think I love you! 😉 So glad you spoke up and responded to her in the way you did. My husband and I have had this conversation a number of times; the Internet, email, blogs, texting, and the like have made people so much more “daring” in what they say or how they approach people. 9 times out of 10 I would bet the people who make negative or hurtful comments, such as the ones you received, would not say them directly to your face. There’s an anonymity about the Internet that gives people, some people, this false sense of superiority, and it’s usually over things they know little to nothing about. I have been in awe of you these last two plus years I have “known” you (via the internet). I so appreciate that you share what you do with people. I think it serves as a service to those of us who have to deal with mental illness, or tragedies. I also really appreciate what you said in here about how to help. Sometimes people really do want to offer support, but just don’t know how. I recently had lunch with a friend who had just found out some terrible news. She started weeping then tried to quickly stop and apologized. I told her not to stop, she needs to allow herself the time she needs to grieve. There’s no good that can come from rushing it or suppressing it alltogether. I’m just going to be *there* for her and, as you pointed out, I will do my best to try to just intuit what she needs. She doesn’t need anymore pressure. You’re one of a kind, Kathy, and as I’ve said before, I feel proud to call you a friend.

    P.S. I’m a Scorpio too. 😉

  12. I wish we had a “Like” button here. Everyone has made the nicest comments. I adore this fabulous group and how supportive everyone tries to be — and wants to learn. Thank you to all!

  13. I adore this fabulous group too and so appreciate your words of support! Talked with johns case manager and he was real bad in the morning but better in the afternoon. So….we head to Sedona tomorrow and I expect those red rocks to work their magic on my dear brother. 🙂

  14. Lilibet

    Oh, Kathy, what a brilliant post. It truly is a public service announcement. When you wrote about what you fed your dear brother during his crisis, I remember thinking “I want to eat at Kathy’s house tonight.” 🙂 I try to eat nutritious, mostly organic food, but I will make no apologies for comforting myself with cheddar sour cream Ruffles! You are giving John everything he needs, and above all, your love.
    I will think of you in beautiful Sedona, where I would love to live. Stay cool and know that lots of people care about you both.

    Lilibet from Websleuths

  15. Ok the hits just keep on coming. Someone on that forum who “liked” the snottigram’s post decided she’d write me privately to reinforce yet another thing I seem to be doing wrong in the care of my brother! That I need to take him off wheat and dairy and shouldn’t I just know that this “reverses” Schizophrenia! Well, if we all didn’t just know that….as she noted I’m, as many people are, “in denial” about nutrition. And if I only fed him the right foods his Schizophrenia would disappear!
    What’s next? Seriously, what’s next?
    I mean she even started this with “I know you’re overwhelmed but….”. What is wrong with people? Seriously! I know you’re overwhelmed but let me just pile some more helpful hints on to you so you can once and for all cure your brother.
    It’s astounding to me just how freaking clueless are. How absolutely clueless.

    • If only it were that simple, wouldn’t almost all schizophrenia be cured? Will the “right foods” cure my vision disorder? Will they cure a pinched nerve?

      gadzooks —- I am a firm believer in “if you can’t say something kind, keep your mouth shut. Whatever you do, it never pays to engage in “logical” discussions with those who think they have the answers to others troubles when they have never been in their shoes.

      Rise above it, KCL. I hope rhis won’t eat at you and ruin your evening. It is so not worth an ounce of your energy.

      (((hugs and hopes))))

      • Oh it won’t ruin my evening at all. Alfonse is making us cheeseburgers right now. He’s doing well, cooking away, clear and calm and no voices.

        I’m happy as a clam…and guess what, he’s doing ALL that on wheat, dairy, cigarettes and Invega Sustenna.


      • Oh yummy! My favorite! Honestly, a plain extra-well done cheeseburger, please. And the fact that Alfonse is doing the cooking and pampering his Sis a bit makes it extra special. Do you think the new med can possibly be kicking in this quickly? If so, I am amazed and hope the good spirit continues.

        How did you manage to get a smiley in your post? Are they here somewhere and I just don’t see them? And I missed a typo in my last post–sorry 😉

        And one more thing I wanted to comment on from the WS posts: I was so impressed with the birds/birdhouses John painted! Does he do a lot of that? He is very good! Talents must run in your family.
        Go to bed with a blessed smile tonight. You and John have earned it!

        hmmmm….that darned pop-up “follow” box won’t let me send this. Guess I will have to do some dinafling here (and I am even typing under the box and can’t see if I have made more typing errors. Forgive if I did, please. Good night. Off to bed I go.

      • Dinafling = hurling dinosaurs across the room 🙂

        I am getting a mental picture that Alfonse is the chef/waiter, and John is the little brother.
        well, even if it was a paint by number, it sure turned out to be a beautiful painting. I certainly could not do that well!

        It’s been nice chatting. Enjoy your time at Sedona!

    • haha! dinaling! lol They said it could kick in in 3 days or so so I’m thinking…yes! He’s doing really well tonite although this morning his symptoms were at an “8”.
      He’s packed and ready for Sedona..he loves cooking so we were both happy for him to cook for us tonite. Awww my Alfonse is returning.
      Thanks for all the love and prayers everyone! xoxo

  16. Slainea

    Hi, that’s absolutely rubbish that you’re having to deal with such ignorant idiots like that. Your response to them hit the nail on the head. Such a great post too – soooo absolutely spot-on about the passive aggressiveness, ignorance, “helpful” suggestions etc that you end up being up against when dealing with a crisis. People just haven’t got a clue sometimes, but it just ends up making a bad situation even harder.

    Well I just wanted to stop by and say hello – I’m a 30-something Brit and love reading your blog so much. I really do admire you – your outlook on life, the way you stand up for yourself, your dignity in dealing with everything you’re up against in life. Your words truly inspire me, and I guess I just wanted you to know how much your writing touches strangers like me out there!

    Anyway, wishing you and your lovely brother the absolute best and hoping you have a fab weekend. xx

  17. Kim

    Prayers that this med will work and you both have a relaxing time in cooler Sedona! ” Eat, drink & be merry!! ” And I think I am quoting the bible. I was reminded by your post the old saying. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!” Seems to fit with these folks on food patrol!! Good grief!! (In my best Charlie Brown voice!). Xoxo. KiminNM (WS)

  18. Chris Larson

    You Go Girl! The world needs more spitfires like you.
    As far as I’m concerned that fried chicken dinner was a big plate of love!
    All the best to you and your family 🙂

  19. Penelope Kimble-Yanez

    They call them comfort foods for a reason. I too am a Scorpio named Penelope go figure! I know this was posted 2 years ago but I am so very late to the blog. I guess I will just have to catch up. By the way what is a triple Scorpio? Take care and hugs being sent your way.

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