21 Comments

  1. Briana

    Hey Matt, I really appreciate you putting this out there in a productive and humorous way. I have had several recent conversations about the same topic. And actually, I think you are being generous that this is not based more in sociopathic behavior. I think we’ve lost what it means to collectively mourn and remember people. I didn’t ask a lot of my friends to come to my dad’s funeral and I’ve regretted it ever since. It’s the one opportunity our communities have to get together and listen to funny stories, laugh about a person’s life, and feel emboldened by their character and humanness. I try to talk about my dad often, and it’s always with some zany anecdote or fond memory, and most people couldn’t be more uncomfortable about the mere mention of a dead person. I want everyone to know how awesome he was, not apologize that he’s gone. I think we need to ask this question of people in our lives, and figure out some way to make it socially and culturally normal. Keep talking about her and this.
    And keep talking about things that make people feel uncomfortable, with occasional mention to dog wieners. Cheers to a fantastic 2015.

  2. Camie

    Thanks so much for sharing this Matt. As one of those people who has probably told you “I’m sorry” several times it really helps a lot to hear examples of helpful responses. I have gotten a lot of “I’m sorries” in response to my own health issues (e.g. having a chronic illness, fertility issues, etc.) and I never know how to respond…do you say “thank you”? At the same time I know that people want to express their empathy and compassion but they don’t know what to say. I often find myself continuing the conversation about these issues (often when I would rather talk about anything else) just to make the other person feel more comfortable and less awkward but it doesn’t work. I think I will take your advice and try to be more honest and give people examples of how to respond. Thanks. Xoxo

  3. lynn

    Loved this! I have always felt so awkward with the “I’m sorry” when it comes to the loss of my Dad I get so awkward and say somethung absurd. I appreciate your hinesty but even more than that, your hilarity.

    Hope your dog is doing better… 🙂

  4. What a great awkward-breaker! I’m trying it out IMMEDIATELY. What a bad-ass legacy you both are. (Don’t know your brother). I can’t help but feel inappropriately proud of you and the way you laugh at inopportune moments, and make the rest of us laugh along. Kudos! Just don’t make me watch the bathtub short again.

  5. Miriam

    Great post, and well-written. My mother’s mother was murdered when I was a year old. I never knew her, so it was always awkward having people express sympathy in the form of “I’m sorry”. It affected my mom a lot, but the sorries certainly never helped, and most of the questions/comments then and still now are centered around morbid curiosity rather than stem from genuine empathy. “How did she die” “how was she killed.” “Did they catch them?”

    Thank you for writing this.

  6. Matt, you’re an exceptional writer, and you have the ability to make us feel that we’re sitting right there, tea sipping and cat gazing along with you as we read your thoughts. Thank you for sharing your insight with great honesty and humor. This one gets tucked away in the memory bank, and I’m sure it will make an impact on the way I talk to people in the future. Thanks. And from the looks of it, the bad-ass-adry runs in the family. xo

  7. Nicolas Clifford

    Matt, I don’t know you, and wound up here referred by a mutual friend, so please don’t take this in any way badly.

    There are two meanings to “I’m sorry” (perhaps more). But one that is _not_ apology is just a statement of fact. “I feel regret.”

    The loss of one’s mother is never easy, and clearly wasn’t for you. To anyone who cares about you, and beyond that, to anyone who feels empathy for their fellow humans in distress, feeling and expressing regret for misfortunate comes naturally, and can be perfectly sincere.

    I get the “I’m sorry”s over the death of my only sibling in an accident some years back. I take them as an expression of care for / about me, and no reply is necessary. If there is awkwardness, I point out that it was long ago, and that I have had time to heal as much as I will / can. And, “What was he like?” is not a conversation I particularly want to have, let alone multiple times with people I barely or don’t know.

    So… at the risk of provoking your ire, I’m sorry that the same benefit does not accrue to you. But it may lessen your anger to know that those of us who offer it don’t see it as an apology: just as an expression of kindness and compassion. Such an expression can never be all bad, even if its form does not suit you…

    • No ire here, and really I didn’t think of it so much of a scathing report on “sorry.” Just glad to inform you and other people that the word is taken differently.

      In the same way you don’t want me to decide how you use sorry, I’m capable of deciding for myself what it has meant over the years. I’m just tired of hearing it, that’s all. Thanks for reading!

  8. Ledell Mulvaney

    Matt, your humor and honesty have given me much to ponder regarding these difficult situations. Thanks so much! Oh, I wish we could see you again and share some laughs about the many shows we did together at Silver Lake! Peace, Ledell Mulvaney

  9. Noah

    This is GREAT. Really well-written. My Dad died about thirteen years ago, and I went through exactly what you talk about. People don’t at all mean to be jerks when they say it, obviously, but everyone should read your post to understand what it’s like to be at the other end of “I’m sorry”.

  10. warren

    I’m sorry about your dog’s penis.

    As an Occupational therapist with 45 years experience working with people dealing with grief, I’m stunned by your profound insight and powerful use of words. You’ve taught me. I’m so grateful!

  11. Ed

    That was excellent Matt.
    All of it.
    Thank you especially for the outlook and the reminder to value all you have and all you have loved.

    (Ps. Keep the blue pills away from the dog)

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