F*ckwits and Practical Kindness

by Lori Dwyer on September 13, 2011 · 20 comments

Dear Lord, I have no Internet. Again. And no 3G reception. Evidently, it’s near killing me. Telstra promises three days at the most. Here’s hoping.

 Please enjoy this post I slaved over in Word.


Two things happened rather successively the other day. I decided, with the assurance of my shrink, that most people are fuckwits. Charlie the shrink assures me that this is not only true, it’s a common conclusion reached by people who have been bereaved, especially traumatically.

Charlie the shrink did, however, warn me against getting bitter. Warned me to remind myself that there are good people out there, who are not fuckwits. People who are brave, and good, and loving and strong and awesome.

He’s absolutely correct. So it was a very good thing when I came home and read this post, Practical Kindness, by the lovely Seraphim. It restored my faith in things a bit. And reminded me Ive been meaning to blog this for a while now.

What is real, practical kindness? What helps, when nothing helps? Are words as good as acts, is the sentiment as good as the practicality?

As Sera mentioned, sometimes it’s the offers of help, that help. Just knowing that there are people around who have made that offer can relieve such a burden. You smile, and say “thank you, but we’ll be fine”, and you mean it.

Ans then there are times when you say “No, I’ll be fine,” and you don’t mean it. But you don’t want to take people up on those offers of help, and be a burden. You don’t want to call on people for help, and feel the humiliation of them saying no.

And sometimes, you just don’t know what to ask for. What can I do to help…? People would ask me. Nothing. Everything. I don’t know. All I knew was that was not I was not functioning, but I didn’t know what would be of assistance. And even if I did pinpoint those things, I would never know if I could ask, or not, if what I was asking for was too much trouble.

And that’s where certain awesome people came in. People like Aunty Mickey, who I’ve blogged many times before, who took me in and took care of me for a month after Tony died, doing simple things. Driving me around. Washing my clothes. Hugging me when I cried. Making sure I slept.

And then there is Sarie, who some of you know may know from Twitter. She showed up at my house every few days after Tony died, with food and love and open arms. She bought me boxes when I was packing, made me cocktails when I needed to get drunk. And just last week she sent me a bunch of flowers for no reason at all, other than she cared.

When I moved from the Purple House to Paradise, it was a quick decision. I made the call and moved within a fortnight. The task of packing and moving was enough to drown me. And so in came people- my mum, brother and his girlfriend, my friend the Kitten. hey packed the things that were too difficult for me to look at.

And two very special people named the Pixie and the Bear magically moved me.

Not really, obviously. But it felt that way. The Bear organised a truck, packed me and moved me. Just like that. No stress, effort or worry on my part.

I wish I had the words to explain what an act that was, especially with a baby and house move of their on the way at the time. They took a task that was way too huge for me to even comprehend and made it easy and doable.

As I left my Purple House, the Bear looked me straight in the eye and said “Don’t look back.”

I didn’t. And it remains some of the best advice I’ve ever been given.

As I’ve said, so many times before… the help that is offered, it’s so often lip service that means nothing at all. Real help, practical, proper help… it’s much harder to come by. And it’s very difficult to ask for.

I know people worry about intruding, or stepping on toes, or insulting people by ‘barging in’, giving assistance where it’s not needed or wanted. But maybe that’s part of the problem, why we’re all so disconnected all the time. I couldn’t have asked for the help I needed… I didn’t know what I needed. It was the people who judged the situation, didn’t push the agenda, but offered help without expectation of return, without conditions or judgement… that was the best kind of help I could have been given.

I know it’s hard for some people who are close to me- some have ceased being close to me altogether (fuckwits). Charlie the psych had more to say on that, and I’ll blog it soon. These people- Sarie, Auntie Mickey, the Pixe and the Bear…. they were perfect. In the background, coming forward when they could sense I needed someone.

It was the best practical help anyone could ask for.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

georgi September 14, 2011 at 11:10 pm

hi lori, it's georgi :-) i so know what you mean here. I know two examples. One day was a sad day and I was watching some beautiful music and started crying and one of my closest friends didn't say anything, just massaged my shoulders for about an hour. Another was when I was writing my dissertation, the last night before it was due, a friend of mine brought me a hot dinner. he skated down from his flat and brought it to me still hot because he knew I wouldn't otherwise get a chance to eat. it's those things – those things you don't have to ask for but someone, some kind soul, just sees its what you need. and they get it so right. much love. x


Anonymous September 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm

My relative did it. The day after World Suicide Day. The week of R U OK? Day. The same way as Tony. When I heard my natural reaction was to just swear. Within hours my thoughts turned to you. I was reading this blog when Tony did it. I'm on the computer much less often these days and read less often but I remembered still. You are so open about it all. Why couldn't we all be? She warned someone, she told them. They talked to her, felt she was ok. She tried to call others who were sleeping, not aware their lives were about to change in an indescribable way. The person she talked to attempted to warn others. There was no answer. He thought she would be ok. She wasn't :( All of a sudden R U OK day has much more meaning to someone like me, who only ever heard of suicide, was never affected by it. I wish it was different.


Melissa September 13, 2011 at 10:23 pm

O.M.G – What on earth is a Tim Tam Cocktail and why has noone ever told me about them before????


Anonymous September 13, 2011 at 10:20 pm

when my nephew passed away unexpectedly I felt like the world was full of fuckwits that were there just to drive me nuts. But like you, I had amazing friends and family who just did things, simple things and were just there for me.

There are still plenty of fuckwits I feel like slapping cos they whinge and whinge and whinge about the most irrelevant things, but I just have to let it go.


Melissa September 13, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I'm so glad they were there for you. They took care of what so many of us desperately wished we could have.

So even if they never read this, Huge, virtual kisses and hugs to them for being your peeps.


Rachel September 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Love you Lori… And while I didn't really do anything except loan you my husband for a weekend, I am so glad we could do what you needed when you needed it.
xxxxx thepixiechick


Melissa September 13, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Yes, lots and lots of people are fuckwits. I totally agree. But those who aren't – well they are priceless. I'm so happy you have real, true friends standing by and supporting you.


Sarah September 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I know you would do the same had the roles been reversed. I love you to pieces, you know that & anything is not too much trouble. Though I might protest if you need cocktails in the next six months cos I can't share, either that or make you drink mine too :P


Miss Pink September 13, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Sarie, she is one AMAZING woman. And i'm glad you have other amazing people around you too.
It's sad that you've lost some friends, but I guess that's life. If they can't support you at your worst, they were never true friends anyway were they? And it does suck to admit it.

The offers of help i've ever mentioned, they were meant. I know we are yet to actually "meet" but I truely have meant every single offer. I have never wanted to push too much though being a "stranger" and not sure if you're comfortable with pushing or me asking personal questions. I could be some old dude with a rockspider moustache afterall.
But I just wanted you to know, I meant them. It sucks I don't drive and can't just come around like that, but I do want to help, whether it's someone to come around and hug you, or listen to you, cry with you or be strong for you. Someone to take the kids off for the day and give you some time alone (some days that's just NEEDED isn't it?), or just someone to text in the middle of the night because you can't sleep and you don't want to be alone with your thoughts. I'm especially up for someone to drink with. Alcohol is my "happy drug".
Love you, and I know many other people do more than you know xx


Bear September 13, 2011 at 6:55 pm

It was a pleasure – you so clearly needed to be somewhere else, and it was good to be able to do something constructive about it.



alison September 13, 2011 at 6:55 pm

And that's just it. You don't know what you need…you need people to just give. And don't get me started on Telstra. We apparently have no option here. Telstra or nothing. The same really.


Dorothy September 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm

I haven't met many people who have truly been able to offer practical help when I've needed it. Even when I asked, not everyone said yes.

You are lucky to have the people you do in your life, which is probably a reflection of you, than of anyone else.

Now, if someone would like to volunteer to take my kids for a week, so I could breathe, or maybe check myself into hospital, that would be a true act of kindness.


Sanity Or Bust September 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm

They are the jewels in our world – those that step in do what we can't manage to ask for, I'm glad they are there for you xx


Shellye September 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I think Suzi put it best when she commented, "Massive traumas and life changes tend to let you know who your real friends are…" and she's absolutely correct. (I think I have a lot of "fair weather friends" to say the least.)

I'm chuffed to bits that there are people who stuck/are sticking by you throughout the chaos. You're truly blessed to have those kind of people in your life.


Shelley September 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm

After losing my daughter ive experienced similar to you. It seems only the brave are willing to step up and be there for you. Often its the friends we least expect that are there for us in our darkest times. Like you said people are unsure of what to do or say. Im so glad you have people around you who really do care and at the end of the day thats what matters Xx


The Girl September 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Your shrink sounds fantastic. I'm glad you have somebody like that supporting you. It is freeing being able to acknowledge that other people are jerks, but he is right – there are lovely people out there, so don't let the bitterness blind you to that.

Good luck and I'm glad you have some great support. You deserve it.


Suzi September 13, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Massive traumas and life changes tend to let you know who your real friends are, and it can be quite painful to realize how few genuine friends you really have left. I'm glad your true friends shon for you when you needed them. xx


Mr Sarie (AKA The Hawk) September 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm

pffft Sarie… she barely carried a box :P

But seriously, you know we are always here if you need anything at all, even if it is only a TimTam Cocktail ;)


Crystal September 13, 2011 at 11:52 pm

So glad to hear you have those magical, wonderful people who offer help and MEAN it. You're right, there are a LOT of fuckwits in this world, but there are those gems who really know how to care. Hope you get your Internets back soon, and I hope the move went smoothly.


Toni September 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Sometimes I wonder if f*ckwitism is something people are born with?
And a big WOO to the HOO to all those who helped you when you needed it, Lori. They're fricking awesome, every one of them.
Helping someone through grief is a hard task. Anyone who sticks around is a hero, in my book.


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