wings and things

Female pheasants don’t grow on trees!

on June 27, 2012

When I wrote my cynical post about platitudes and cliches the other day, I wasn’t actually thinking so much of my own situation with a terminally ill husband, but of other people whose lives seem to have been swallowed whole by such chronic illness that each day becomes an enormous challenge. Some of those people I have met via the blogosphere, but I also know other people personally who are in various stages of illness or grief, so I understand and empathize with how difficult it must be to tolerate the platitudes.

The comments I received on that post confirmed that many people find the platitudes and cliches intolerable, but it was also pointed out to me that cliches can be very useful when you don’t know what else to say, so perhaps the post was a little over-cynical. One off-the-record comment implied that for me to call a well-meaning platitude ‘crap’ was an ugly way of expressing things and that my cynicism didn’t fit with the flavour of the rest of my blog.

So I went back and edited the post to make it gentler, but I kept the original words in there too. At the end I should have added “and you will pick yourself up” but, for some reason, I didn’t because, after all, that is not always possible. But, having upset one person, it is possible I may have upset others for which I apologize.

I have also had to apologize to Phoenix 1 because I still haven’t been able to find him a wife!

Me: Female pheasants don’t grow on trees, Phoenix!

Phoenix 1: I think you have used a remnant of a cliche, Julie.

Me: Oh, crap!

49 responses to “Female pheasants don’t grow on trees!

  1. victoriaaphotography says:

    I think ‘crap’ is very descriptive and a great word to use. We use it a lot in Australia. I can think of another word starting with a ‘d’ which I use all the time. My ex boss told me it was not a nice way to describe a person. Hmmm…… I was actually very surprised to find that the ‘d’ word was considered not very nice as I had used it all my life and I came from a very strict conservative upbringing.
    I guess we all have different words for different occasions. And the same words can have different meanings depending on the audience and the context in which they are used.

    Maybe I should blow up the shot I took of a female Phoenix at Melbourne Zoo and send it over to you (for your Phoenix to hang on his enclosure fence). He might be consoled by a photo (if not the actual female presence)…………….Big Grin.

  2. You have the kindest heart! Not sure I would retract or change or reword anything. I mean I don’t like hurting people but….well you know what I mean?

  3. terry1954 says:

    i liked blog about the platitudes, because i know that my brother isn’t going to get better, and i guess it is a slap when people remark just give it time, blah blah, maybe it is me, but i like the truth with hope outlook on life. speaking to Al about truth has made a difference in his and my life. there is no more pretending, it is out there. it is easier for even him because he has a real reason for his pain and it makes it less uncomplicated to him. i don’t know, maybe i said this all wrong, but for me, sometimes the pretty remarks don’t cut it, i want people to feel what we are going through. now i probably sound like a hard ass. no one on blog world has done that, but people i know in person have

    • jmgoyder says:

      I am so with you Terry and thanks for the supportive comment. I’m like you – the truth of a situation is better than pretending everything is going to be okay when it isn’t going to be okay. Juliexx

  4. sometimes people use platitudes when they care and do not know what else to say

    sometimes people use platitudes when they do not care at all

    you have to know the difference – and if you are in pain, it is hard to do that

    you do not need to apologize

    I use cliches sometimes because they say exactly what I want them to say – but they should be employed creatively

  5. Rhonda says:

    You are a kind soul Jules. Making Platitudes and Cliche’s a kinder gentler read to soothe a hurt feeling seemed right at the time, but by doing so, you did to yourself the very thing you were speaking to. Keep the truth as you see it, speak the truth as you see it, share the truth as you need to. The one who didn’t like it did that. And, this is YOUR voice here, no one else’s. 🙂

  6. I honestly try not to use cliche’s, but I do. Too often. You’re right, when you don’t know what to say, that’s when you say it. Maybe I should just learn to shut up when I don’t know what to say.

    Beautiful bird!

  7. I think it’s very hard for most people to express themselves when someone is sick or otherwise having a bad time. Not everyone is eloquent or has a way with words. These people either avoid sick people and sad situations, or they come out with some “platitude or cliché.” The brave ones are trying to convey that they feel for you. But being on the receiving end of all these seemingly meanless words must be very trying. Probably it’s good to allow a bit of slack for both sides. I guess I would draw the line at unhelpful remarks that pretend the sick person will get better when they obviously can’t.

  8. Fergiemoto says:

    Poor Phoenix.
    I haven’t re-read the cliche posting, but I don’t recall feeling offended at all.

  9. viveka says:

    Phoenix – some colorful bird … not easy to find a female that suites him *smile – I’m sure he is picky too. I think “crap” is a fully acceptable word today … at least we all know what it stands for and we all know how people feel when they use it.

  10. I agree with Diana. You do have a kind heart!

  11. kdkh says:

    No need to apologise for being honest with your feelings, even if they upset others. Their comments may say more about themselves than you. As for blog tone, you’re a multi-fascetted human and your blog can reflect that. No problem. Oh, crap, is that a platitude?

  12. janechese says:

    Sometimes I have to fight to be heard in the moment and the truth is sometimes I am just a negative b**** and let me be there so I can wallow in it, then move on.Prettying it up for me doesn’t make it is what it is. I can give platitudes too but it just means they careSo that’s my two cents worth. jane

  13. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    I think it’s amazing you are living above & beyond the chronic illness of your husband. I can in fact imagine a family being “swallowed” by it. It would be hard to see out, from beyond the dark place you’d feel, knowing you would die sooner rather than later. I admire your spirit, gmgoyder.

    It’s a surprise sometimes when a post brings a lot of comment.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Thank you so much for this wonderful comment – it is hard to watch someone you love deteriorate so gradually like this – almost like a deathrow – hate it, hate it, hate it!

  14. Go Jules Go says:

    I read that post, and I definitely don’t think you have anything to apologize for! I am certainly guilty of using cliches when I don’t know what else to say, but that doesn’t mean I like them. Sometimes, there just isn’t anything to say. Hopefully one day I’ll be comfortable with that (those silences that still feel awkward to me)!

  15. magsx2 says:

    I am sorry to hear that it is difficult to find a female companion for Phoenix, maybe you should print out some flyer’s and pin them on notice boards at the shopping centers. We have noticeboards in all our shopping centers here, they don’t cost anything, and I always see people reading them, you never know. 🙂

  16. Judith Post says:

    Poor Phoenix–except that he looks pretty happy, all in all. And I thought the cliches were to make a point. Most of the time, you look at a person’s intentions, but every once in a while, no matter how well-meaning the person, you’re too down to appreciate anything positive.

  17. Robyn Lee says:

    Guess we look for wisdom, but sometimes the platitudes can seem like programmed responses and that the platitude giver is not truly caring or empathizing… so with this, I have come to the conclusion that it’s more about the intention behind the words…the expression in the eye or voice etc.. and less about the words….

    That just occurred to me when reading — but i”m in quite a lot of pain so if it sounds a bit corny — forgive… Sending Love !!!

  18. dou dou says:

    Haven’t been in this situation, don’t know how I would feel about it, but you are, and how you feel is how you feel – you should not have to apologize for that.

  19. magicallymad says:

    What a gorgeous bird!!! Just my 2 cents but to me, you’re entitled to your opinions, especially when you’re hurting. It’s your pain, not mine, and I don’t get to tell you how to cope with it, especially using cliches. Good lord people, get creative, dig a little! OK, that’s all. An award for you on my page, because you inspire me so.
    Hugs, jill

  20. bluebee says:

    There’s so many sides to this platitude issue. Some people who are in bad situations want the truth (me); others want constant reassurance that things will get better because they don’t want to or just can’t face the enormity of their situation – I’ve heard this referred to as ‘malignant optimism’ but I think that’s unkind because, hey, whatever gets us through the day. You shouldn’t have to apologize for your sentiments, Julie, it’s how you feel – crap is crap, and is so expressive

    • jmgoyder says:

      Well I have never heard of malignant optimism but it’s an interesting concept. The negative comment to me was not made by a blogger but by a family member and I am over that now because I find ‘crap’ such a useful word. It isn’t too obscene and yet it expresses strong feeling so it is probably its own cliche – ha! I sometimes wonder whether, in western society, we have lost the ability to understand and respond to grief, so we respond with platitudes because it feels safer? I do it too. But if things are crap, they are crap – thanks bluebee! Jx

  21. eof737 says:

    Julie, one thing I’ve learned about life is that you cannot please everyone and definitely not all the time. Your post was sincere. It came from your heart and anguish, and it should stand as written. No need for apologies… That is life; some love you today, hate you tomorrow…. C’est la vie!

  22. Honesty would seem best. But we all have different views of reality. Probably more than anything people want to reassure and “do no harm” so when in doubt they use platitudes. And also because they easily come to mind. Maybe the key measure of a platitude should be sincerity and intent. If it is said for a good purpose and not to harm or diminish anyone than maybe it deserves to be accepted and even welcomed?

    • jmgoyder says:

      I hope nobody thought I was referring to any blogger comments (that just occurred to me!) Yes, a well-meant platitude is one to be treasured!

  23. Homepage says:

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