A Pet Peeve

“Have a good day” is probably the most common way of bidding a person farewell, whether friend or stranger.  It is an upbeat parting with good wishes for anyone.  Yet that expression is making an assumption all is on an even keel in the receiver’s life.  Statistics would likely show a high percentage of people, on any given day, are not having a good day due to stress, anger, health, grief, or numerous other reasons.  Except for bereavement, it is acceptable to wish someone a good day, even if they are having a bad one, as you are expressing the hope their day is pleasant or will improve.  But for one in mourning, there is no hope of their day improving.  Hearing that saying is a slap in the face.

While my daughter lay dying in the hospital, I went to a drive-through Starbucks nearby for coffees for those holding vigil with us.  The employee at the window handed me my drinks and said “that” phrase.  I broke down saying,  “It won’t be a good day as my daughter is dying down the street.”  He immediately insisted I take my money back, and said, “I am so sorry.”  I certainly did not pour out my story for free coffees, but, I suppose, that was the first instance where I felt compelled to let others know that is not a good thing to say when you have no idea what is going on in the other person’s life.  I still cringe when I hear that idiom.

I have tried and tried to come up with an alternative cliché.  “Take care,” is inoffensive though not uplifting.  Nevertheless, that has become my parting slogan unless I know the person well enough for “Have a good day!” to be appropriate.

My daughter, Karin, may have had it right!  Throughout high school and into college years, her pet saying was, “Have a Day!”  It was her normal so-long phrase and she drew the have-a-day face everywhere — on blackboards, friends’ notebooks, a frosty window, notes and emails.

The grief of losing a child is something one will never “get over.”  It becomes part of the fabric of your life.  You learn to live with the grief, but you do not “move on” — another pet peeve I have.  Moving on insinuates you forget your grief, you leave it behind you and move into an existence in oblivion to the reality of the loss.  Two months after Karin died, a friend mentioned to me, “You are an amazing mother. I believe Karin wants you to be strong and move on.”

The move on phrase stuck in my craw. “Karin doesn’t want me to ‘move on’ until I have completed the thank yous!  She would have them done twice as fast as I will!”

“I meant ‘move on’ in a different context. Karin would like you to be happy not suffering grief.”

“Then you didn’t know Karin well.  She was high maintenance.  She would want me to carry my grief, and *I* want to carry my grief!  It is the only connection I have to her.  She is gone from my sight and sound, but she lives in heaven.  She still exists in spirit!”

It is now almost five years since we lost her.  In that time, I have lost an adopted granddaughter, a spouse, and my dog.  My grief has become refined and reshaped.  I still grieve, but my life is filled with joy which only comes from the Holy Spirit.  There is no explanation for joy amidst trials except God’s glory being revealed.  If we love God, He does have a plan for our lives.  He allows suffering to come to teach us and mold us into the people he wants us to be.  Romans 8:28 “For all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

I hope you are having a good day, and, if you aren’t, take care!

Do you have an alternative to the “Have a good day” wish?


About 9awalsh

A genealogist and writer who has uncovered legacy stories which must be told. I also write a blog, Deciphering Life, trying to figure out why life becomes so tangled -- www.9awalsh.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Deciphering Life, Grief and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to A Pet Peeve

  1. Lynn J. Bates says:

    God be with you…


  2. mpschrauwers says:

    You are a survivor. You are an example to follow. Your grief and tribulations make you the amazing person you are. Blessed to be a witness to God’s work in you.


    • 9awalsh says:

      It’s not me. It’s all about God. When I first learned about spouse’s indiscretions, I prayed that somehow God would be glorified in this mess. And you, my dear Melanie, are an example of that answered prayer.


  3. nicki says:

    Wow! Glad I stumbled across this today. Although, I did laugh out loud at a couple of the things you said. (High Maintenance and Thank You’s) We don’t put enough thought into what we say to people. My LEAST favorite is telling someone struggling that “God will never give you more than you can handle!” That isn’t scriptural. God will absolutely give you more that YOU can handle!


    • 9awalsh says:

      Oh, Nicki! You certainly could identify with those Karin characteristics and get a laugh! More than one person “quoted” that bogus scripture to Karin during her illness which incensed her to no end! She also knew that God can and does give us more than WE can handle, but not more than we can handle with His help! She was prime example of that! We are so proud of the way she lived her final days. She left a wonderful legacy of faithfulness, dependance upon God, and trust. She ended her last email to a good friend with “God is amazing!” (There probably were several exclamation points! LOL)


  4. Eileen Smith says:

    If I’m parting from two or more, I always say, “Y’all look after each other!” Nina, I think of you so often, you cannot know. Lots of changes in Karin’s area – huge subdivisions going up all around. Once in a while, I even run in to say “Hello, I knew your mom…” Hugs


    • 9awalsh says:

      I haven’t been there since June, but will be there in a month! I saw the houses going in. After she died, Grant and I were thinking we might retire and buy a house across the street from the cemetery. Instead, I bought the plot next to her! I sing “How Great is Our God” to her when I am there. My June silk flowers must look pretty sad by now.


  5. jack seibert says:

    We are to count our blessings, so I often will respond: “Thank you. Everyday is a good day, with some being better than others.” A cousin to that greeting is “How are you doing?” when they really don’t want to know, especially if it isn’t good. “Oh, I’m doing”. or “If I was an better, I would have to be 2 people.” Radio personality Dave Ramsey says “Better than I deserve.” When people say something like that, we just have to realize that they are just trying politely to fill the silence.


  6. 9awalsh says:

    After Karin died, I responded to “How are you?” with a deadpan “OK.” It wasn’t until three and a half years later, which was a year and a half after learning of spouse’s indiscretions, that I could respond with “Great!” because I was finally more than the proverbial “Fine.”


  7. Wow I am moved by the truth in your words. People mean well while inserting their foot. It takes time to learn how to make it through each day. Yes we are grateful their suffering had ended but that does not somehow erase the pain of loss. Still waiting for the sharpness to turn into sweet memories…

    18 hours ago via mobile · Like


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