When shit hits fans.

I got this e-mail at work:

As many of you may have heard, our friend (deleted for privacy) younger brother and his family (dfp). They did not survive. We would like to take up collections to purchase a Visa gift card to help her and the family out during this time. If you would like to donate, please stop by my desk to sign the card. I will be collecting donations up until EOD on Friday to mail to her home. Please continue to keep (dfp) and her family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Thanks for your support.

What is happening in our world?

We all know this woman, and have for almost a decade. Her husband is blind. Her ailing mother-in-law lives with them. They have a four-year old son, and she works full-time to support all four of them.

She is no doubt in a state of complete internal collapse over this news. And now, in addition to the three family members she takes care of, she has four to bury.

Thank goodness she has a Visa gift card coming in the mail.

When did it become acceptable to throw money and lame greeting cards at people when their world implodes?

Isn’t it weird that we give the exact same thing to our co-workers when they get married, or have babies?

When did we become heartless drones?

Our friend doesn’t need polite rhetoric about how sorry we are for her loss. She needs us to line up at her door with casseroles. She needs us to babysit, and change the sheets on her bed because they’re damp with tears and snot. She needs us to do the grocery shopping, sort her mail, and answer the phone so she doesn’t have to lie to anyone else today and say she’s doing okay. She needs us to the do the laundry, walk the dog, and ease her into a chair when another wave of grief takes her out at the knees.

She needs a friend.

Not a gift card.


  1. ardenrr says:

    I totally agree! A year ago at my old firm, one of my co-worker’s aunts or something passed away and I received the exact same email. I had never been asked for money before to send to someone after a death. I was baffled. You send food and offer support in ways to help out, not money.

    You send gift cards when someone has lost a home to fire perhaps or some other catastrophe, you know, when they actually do need the money. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way as I felt bad when I didn’t contribute….

    • Don’t feel bad. That’s some boohlshit. I couldn’t bring myself to even respond to the e-mail. Or the reminder e-mail. The irony is that I contacted her directly and offered all the things in my post, separately. Because I’m a human.

  2. Damn straight.

  3. WTF good does a gift card do?? Seriously. This is what’s wrong with the world today. I say, go with the casserole, and any other errands/favors that can be done. Much more heartfelt.

  4. Oh shit. And yes, when my son died I needed people, not money. You give money at the funeral to help with the expenses, but you show up. You grieve and be there and be HUMAN.

    • “When my son died.” The fact that you can type those words, and continue on, is a miracle to me. You’re my hero. Unbelievable strength. Unbelievable.

  5. This drives me crazy!

    One of my best friends has been dating and engaged to her daughter’s father for YEARS. He just died in a motorcycle accident last weekend, and she mentioned on FB that she was heading to the town it happened in to see him, etc., and that it would be the hardest trip she’d ever have to make. One of her “friends” actually responded with, “Don’t feel sad. Love u girl” Oh, really? The fact that some girl I know on FB “loves” me is supposed to bring my dead boyfriend and daughter’s father back? Silly me…

    Some people are so ignorant.

    • That’s deep. People are not right. I’m so sorry for you friend. I can’t even imagine. I hope with the love and support of true friends like you, and a little angel dust, she and her daughter will be okay.

      • We all need more friends like you ❤

      • We also need more people to properly type “your” instead of “you.” My bad. It’s been a long week…The sentiment is not lost though…Thank you Alicia. I do my best to be a good friend. Thank you for being in my B-sphere. Wouldn’t, couldn’t, be the same without you. XO

  6. Miss Molly says:

    It’s become too easy – and apparently acceptable – to take care of every via the Internet and/or with a Visa card. Excellent post. We’re losing our humanity and it’s scary as hell.

  7. Excellent post~ totally agree~ what kind of world do we live in~ bring back compassion & caring and as an earlier post stated be human

  8. What you are talking about in your final paragraph is the true definition of “community”. You’re absolutely right – signing a Hallmark sympathy card and throwing a few bucks into the Visa pool are “heartless drone” maneuvers. It allows the giver to have the illusion of helping,but they don’t actually have to expend any energy or “feel” anything that might be uncomfortable.

  9. You’re so right about the illusion of helping. The real test is who will get in the trenches with you when shit gets weird. I hope she has more than one of me on her team. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  10. Sometimes, just saying out of my own experience, a heart-felt card may make a difference. NOT a mass-mail-product, one hand-written, with personal words. Even if it comes from a stranger.
    But if you are closer to a person then you are right, you should show up personally and spend TIME, DO THINGS. Like taking care of that small kid, when mommy has to do all the things around the funeral. Or when she just needs an hour alone. Or showing up or inviting her over when, after the funeral, which is the harder time, she will need someone just to be there and care.
    A gift voucher? Sorry, no – contributing to the expenses of the funeral, yes, but a gift voucher? I’m with you on that! Time and open ears, and if appreciated tissues and a hug. But no gifts …

  11. Well said, as always. I’m so tired of the excuse of “I didn’t know what they would need” so I’ll just buy a gift card and get the quadruple gas points on my Kroger card while I’m at it. Win. Win. Come on, people. You know exactly what they need…help, kindness, to be considered…action, not words. Good for you for reaching out…I’m so so sorry that this family is going through this. What a tragedy.

  12. Good job being a human.

  13. Hallelujah!! Say it sister!

  14. And that is why you are a good person and your co-worker is lucky to have you.

    At my office, when something happens to one of our own (luckily, so far its just been serious illnesses from which everyone has made a triumphant recovery) one person organizes a calendar, lays out a guilt trip if necessary, and we all take turns cooking and delivering dinner to them and their family as they recover. It’s helpful, both in that you’re making their life easier because they don’t have to worry about feeding themselves and also because it means every day they have a chance for some human contact in an environment where they can control that contact based on how they are feeling that day (i.e. whether or not they ask you to come in when you drop off dinner).

  15. commeants says:

    I think she needs a FAT gift card… and people need to keep away.

  16. AMEN, PREACH ON. I wrote about this last week: http://baddestmotherever.com/2013/07/16/the-holy-casserole/

    Ham…It’s what you do!

  17. So freeking right!

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