Grief in General

(Don’t) Call me Lucky

You are lucky.  You got to say Good Bye.

You are lucky.  You didn’t have to watch them die.




And, one more time for good measure:  NO!

I lost my wife to cancer.  To one of the most rare and aggressive cancers known to man.

A cancer so rare that only one person a year in the world gets what she had.

For two and a half years I watched her suffer.

I watched her suffer physically. The images of her pain embedded into my brain for the rest of time.

I watched her suffer mentally.  The knowledge that she was battling an aggressive beast inside of her that was not to be beaten.

I watched her suffer emotionally.  The realization of what was to come and who she would be leaving behind.

I am lucky?

No. I am not. Lucky.

The horror of a two and half year cancer battle from Hell does not make me lucky.

Fact:  There is nothing lucky about watching someone you love die a slow and painful death.

You know who else is not lucky?


The person who lost your love suddenly.

The person who lost your love from a heart attack.  Or a car accident.

The person who lost your love from a murder.  Or a war.

True, you may not have watched them suffer.

True, their pain may not have been as prolonged.

That does not make you lucky.

Not in any way. Shape. Or form.

Fact:  There is nothing lucky about losing someone you love suddenly, and without warning.

You had no time to prepare.  No chance to say Good Bye.

You had no chance to say everything one last time.

I am not saying all loss is equal.  I am actually saying the exact opposite.

Each and every loss is unique.

Each and every pain its own.

As the exact circumstances of each situation and passing are different, there are undoubtedly some losses that are more tragic than others.

The truth, though, is this:   When you lose someone you love dearly, ‘Lucky’ is not a word that you EVER want to hear.

Don’t tell me that I am lucky because I got to say Good Bye.

Don’t tell them that they are lucky because they did not have to watch them die.

Save that word.

For the healthy.  For the living.  For the carefree.


We only wish, that we could be.

© Copyright 2017 John Polo























7 thoughts on “(Don’t) Call me Lucky

  1. So so true. My husband too had an ultra rare cancer, and watching his zest for life fade day by day, is so heartbreaking. He had an untreated blood clot because he was hoping he’d go that way instead of becoming totally incapacitated. He got his wish. But while we watched him shrink to half his size, he passed away one morning unecpectedly. We weren’t ready to let him go, yet we had been preparing. There is absolutely nothing lucky about either situation, suddenly or drawn out, both are inconceivable, heartbreaking life-changing moments.

  2. Such a great piece you’ve written. I completely get it. I definitely do. Yet amazingly, I find myself not fully agreeing. So many times over the years since my husband got promoted (the verb our family chooses to replace ‘died’ with, at least when it happens to a good person) two weeks before his 31st birthday, I’ve explained what happened (aneurysm/stroke/30 days in a coma). It nearly never fails (if it has at all): without realizing it, I’ve said “but I did not get cheated. We got to have more happiness in 7 years than some people get in a whole lifetime.” So did I call myself lucky? Not directly, but yes. Lucky in having his love and our life for as long as we did. When it comes to being able to say goodbye, I feel fortunate to have been able to do so. A quick death or a drawn out death – neither leaves loved ones with their loved ones. And that just plain sucks. But boy – to move myself into the future knowing how loved I’ve been and always will be – that gives me strength & encouragement, the likes of which can stem from that relationship only he & I were fortunate enough to have.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts and writings, John –

  3. I needed to ready this. My wife died in a car accident on 1/26/17 and I’ve since found myself comparing my experience and grief with those who lost someone after an extended illness. I certainly wouldn’t ever call them lucky, but I have found myself making distinctions regarding how our grief is different based on if our loved one died suddenly or it was expected. The bottom line is, there’s no easy way to lose a loved one. There’s no easy way to wake up everyday and get smacked in the face with the reality that you’re still here and they’re not, no matter the circumstances by which they exited this world. The bottom line is, we are still here…without them. I’m glad I found your blog tonight. You take some of the words right out of my mouth as to how I feel since losing my wife. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. My husband died 1 and 1/2 years ago of cancer.I am battling depression. He was

    the love of my life for 43 years. Very sad.

  5. People are clueless if they even for a moment think what we all experienced was luck. What the Hell is wrong with people telling me I’m lucky because he is not suffering in pain anymore. No Jim is relieved of his pain but my agony and grief is anything but luck.

  6. I agree totally. We can’t compare our loss. My husband died from suicide and it was completely unexpected. I joined a forum for people who lost loved ones to suicide but felt that parents who had lost children thought their loss was worse than anyone else’s. It was very upsetting to me. My husband was my whole world. I have been with him since I was 15 and now my whole world has changed. The future that I thought I would have had been ripped away from me. I am lost in a sea of grief. To then be told that a parent’s loss is worse was like being told my loss was unimportant, my pain was inconsequential. We can’t compare our losses.

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