I saw a great need

Maybe it’s only because I’m full of the flu and curmudgeonly as hell today, but the inevitable angel-washing after the latest celebrity cancer death is pissing me off. She was, apparently, brave (i.e. uncomplaining).

You know, I’m sure she was, at least with most people, I’m sure she did it for the purpose of not upsetting them. That was extremely generous of her, to shield others from any bitterness she probably felt.

But would it have been so bad if she’d got really angry at the fact that she was going to die? If in fact she had not been a particularly comfortable person to live with in her last few months because she was raging at the unfairness of it all?

Why should people in pain and suffering, whether they are dying or not, be expected to be “brave”? Just to make the rest of us feel better about not having to think too much about how it sucks to be them?



Categories: health, media, relationships, Sociology

Tags: , , ,

12 replies

  1. Damn straight.
    Whenever something like this happens, I always think of how it must be for families who lose loved ones when they don’t have the advantages of wealth and celebrity. I mean, it sucks to lose someone you love no matter how rich you are, but it’s the people who don’t have that level of privilege who are forgotten by most other people; they don’t get headlines.

  2. I love the banner.
    It looks like we’re the Grouches About Town today.

  3. I couldn’t go past an evil poodle.

    It looks like we’re the Grouches About Town today.

    Yep, the world needs to pull its socks up and get off my lawn.

  4. I may well commit some random acts of bastardry in the vicinity of tv studios or newspapers at the next ‘battle with cancer’/’brave’/cheery in the face of adversity or my personal favourite “lost his/her battle”.
    Dear Journos,
    Cancer doesn’t respond to cheeriness or bravery or positive thinking. It doesn’t care how hard you ‘fight’ it. Therefore it is impossible to ‘win’ or ‘lose’.
    Cheers,
    Kate
    (Also, I think I may have to dig out my Cancer Sucks badge)

  5. I agree with your sentiments about angel-washing of the rich and famous. The Chaser did it rather well, I remember, and even incurred the disapproval of the mighty Kev as well as J-ho.
    However, having lived through my nearest and dearest succumbing to the Big C over the course of three years I think there is often another dimension to how the dying behave. At some point one has to accept the inevitable – and anger and railing at the world is not necessarily the best coping strategy. If there is one redeeming characteristic of succumbing to cancer it is that one has a pretty substantial period of notice to prepare for death. A wise person will try to come to terms with it and deal with it the best way they can – how do you prepare for death? How will you prepare for death?
    It can be a time for making good past wrongs, for repairing old hurts and grievances, for forgiveness – all of which can induce a calm and even serene magnanimity and compassion for the survivors, who, in some ways have the harder time adjusting to it, from the perspective of one who has accepted their impending demise with grace, dignity and equanimity. It’s a harder way to go because you have to face the ultimate reality of who you are and what you have done.

  6. ”Why should people in pain and suffering, whether they are dying or not, be expected to be “brave”? Just to make the rest of us feel better about not having to think too much about how it sucks to be them?”

    This is SO true. Don’t people in pain have enough on their hands already to have to be all careful about annoying other people with their pain?

  7. Haaaaattteeeee.
    I haven’t quite gotten over Lynn Johnson (comic strip arist here in Canada) for saying that people who live with chronic pain should suffer in silence or it annoys people, while people who are caretakers for those with chronic pain must have a safe space to “vent” their “frustrations”.
    Haaaateee.
    (I agree, of course, that those of us who live with people with disabilities do need a safe space to occasionally scream at the unfairness of it all – heaven knows I need one on occassion. But the idea that somehow Don must “suck it up” to make my life easier? Screw that. Don can and should tell me when he’s in pain and not suffer in silence like everyone else tells him to. Jerks.)
    Annas last blog post..The Answer To Any Bad Night Is Obviously More Photos

  8. RIP to JM. [name redacted because I don’t want hits from search engines on her name to reach this post~tigtog]
    It’s interesting that there was recently research done that indicated that thinking positively doesn’t necessarily have any impact of survival rates for cancer. Ian Gawler, a kind of guru of the positive thinking movement, was quite cross at this research even being done. Doctors cited cases of husbands being angry at wives for not thinking positively enough to cure their own cancer. The need for people (i.e. women) to be heroic in suffering surely also adds to the stress already felt by cancer sufferers.
    Lynn Johnson is the person behind that truly awful comic strip, For Better or Worse. She’s the survivor of a traumatic childhood and seems to be trying to work it out by creating a utopian and traditionalist world in this strip.

  9. As a disabled person I get bouts of what I call “gratitude fatigue”. By nature I’m a pretty happy and pleasant person but you sometimes get to the point where people who force their assistance on you regardless of whether you want or need it in order to get the emotional payoff from your thanks can get really annoying. As a result I’m very wary of expecting others to be ‘suitably grateful’. In the same way, as someone who juggles pain management on a regular basis I’m very wary of expecting anyone to be ‘suitably brave’ either.

  10. Hi Deus Ex Macintosh,
    I’ve been trying to convince my husband that he never has to be grateful to me for treating him like a human being. But he’s been taught that any act of decency is something he should demonstrate so much gratitude for that it makes me ill. *sigh*
    Annas last blog post..Let’s Fight Back

  11. I’m familiar with the problem. Every time Skepticlawyer stays at my place she tells me off for apologising to everyone in the street as I try to get by.

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