“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?