“Should have known better…”

If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, you can probably relate to this story. Something about funerals makes people say the stupidest things.

Most readers know my Dad passed away from lung cancer at 57 years old in 2019. Dad smoked from the time he was 13 until a few weeks after his diagnosis. He had tried quitting so, so many times. His one regret in life was ever picking up a cigarette.

We aren’t shy about the fact that Dad’s specific type of lung cancer was caused by his smoking. We’ve actually been pretty active in advocating for lung cancer screenings for those who do smoke and choose to continue to smoke.

At the funeral, a community member walked up to my mom and said, “It’s too bad he was a smoker, he should have known better.”

Yeah. I know.

We were all SO PISSED when mom told us that she said that. Dad’s smoking does not discredit anything. It doesn’t discredit his work ethic, it doesn’t discredit his faith, his role as a father, the years he dedicated to the community as a fireman and first responder, it’s as if his smoking addiction, because it took his life, voided any good deed he may have done in his 57 years.

But now get this.

I was talking to a co worker recently, she was in tears. She was so angry at people who chose to get unvaccinated. She was so fed up and felt personally victimized by people who chose not to get vaccinated. She had a hard time feeling any empathy for them because they brought this on themselves. They don’t deserve medical care if they refuse the vaccine.

I’ve heard many similar conversations over the past 9 months regarding people’s vaccination status. I’ve heard them from healthcare workers, I’ve read them in comment sections, and I myself have had similar thoughts at times too.

Then I remember my Dad. I remember that “he brought this on himself.” I remember how hurt I was to hear those words as if it negated the fact he was still my dad, he was still a husband and a beloved member of the community. What if the cancer doctors and nurses treated him poorly because of the choices he made?

Should I be rude to the septic 16 year old girl in the ER after her botched abortion?

Should I refuse to treat the drunk driver who was in a car accident?

Should I make fun of the man who took erectile dysfunction medication and shamefully makes his way to the ER after four hours?

Should I tell the patient of the family who is terminally extubating their unvaccinated loved one who is dying from COVID that they brought this on themselves?

Should I roll my eyes when a suicide attempt wasn’t completed and they are in the ICU following an overdose?

All of these scenarios represent real people. These are real humans with real qualities beyond making poor choices.

My dad was a real human with real qualities beyond making a poor choice.

I can’t carry that burden, I won’t carry that anger inside of me.

Is it hard? YES. Am I perfect at it? NO. Have I made snarky comments about people who are unvaccinated? YES.

I have to remind myself constantly, I have never regretted being exceptionally kind. I have never regretted offering empathy. I have never regretted giving the benefit of the doubt. I have never regretted loving unconditionally.

I have regretted being rude. I have regretted saying something snarky. I have regretted speaking poorly about someone. I have regretted carrying anger.

So while yes, it is frustrating. It is so beyond frustrating. I have been angry and I’ve been sad and judgemental but I’ve also been the daughter of someone who “brought this on themselves” and I’m the daughter of someone who “should have known better.”

As a disclaimer, I do want to say I am whole heartedly and enthusiastically vaccinated COVID ICU nurse.

I guess this whole blog post could be summed up in one phrase: Leave the judging to Jesus. And that’s all I have for today.

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  1. Paula
    October 1, 2021 / 5:07 pm

    Oh you don’t know how much I needed to hear that today! Great message!

  2. Kim J LeMere
    October 1, 2021 / 5:35 pm

    I could not have said it any better, thank you for putting it out there. Life is about choices and the consequences from those choices. Some of our choices turn out to be wonderful and others not so much. We are people and all of us make choices. I love the line: I have never regretted being exceptionally kind..

  3. Linda
    October 1, 2021 / 5:38 pm

    Thank you for your well said words.

  4. jeanie
    October 1, 2021 / 6:46 pm

    I chose not to be vax’d. I am 80 & in good health. I read your mom’s blog and that’s how I found yours.
    Sorry about your dad.
    I tested pos for covid on 7/31/21. Yes, I was sick, but not any sicker than those who had the vax. Some of each died. I can compare my illness to when I had what was called the Asian flu in high school, 1957 or when I had peritonitis from burst appendix in 1993. I prefer everyone have a choice to do what they feel is right for them.
    I live in an independent living facility. I still choose not to be vax’d. Yes, I could still die from the next variant, but I could also die if I get the vaccine. So be it!

  5. Evelyn
    October 1, 2021 / 7:59 pm

    Thank you!

  6. Donette Kurtz
    October 1, 2021 / 8:12 pm

    Amen sister. I was a bit upset when you posted about unvaccinated folks. But I figured it was the stress. So instead of getting mad and delete you I just lifted you up in prayer. None of us is perfect. Keep learning and growing. That what we should all do till the grave calls us. Or rather Jesus calls us home. ?

  7. Amy
    October 1, 2021 / 8:16 pm

    Thank you!

  8. October 1, 2021 / 9:20 pm

    The organist in our church is a retired chiropractor and remains unvaccinated. He does not trust the vaccine so chose not to get it. He wears a mask at every service. I can’t fault him for that. It is his choice and forcing people to get vaccinated is not wise. How many don’t get flu shots? Do we force that on them. I am vaccinated and happy for it. Life goes on and we take our chances. Thank you for posting.

  9. Norma
    October 1, 2021 / 11:07 pm

    You are growing to be a thoughtful, wise person. Were all imperfect people but yes, when I’m helpful and kind I can’t regret it.

  10. Kate
    October 1, 2021 / 11:33 pm

    I am one of those who chose not to be vaccinated. First, I have had covid so feel that is a protection. Second, I really do take extra precautions when I am out and about and I am mostly home except for church and some shopping. I have always taken extra precautions during flu season as well. I know what I’m saying next people won’t like to hear, but I have heard of thousands of people dying shortly after receiving his or her shot, one known to me personally. I appreciate your attitude – you a very dedicated nurse – loving and kind.

  11. Jocelyn Joyce-Anderson
    October 2, 2021 / 1:44 am

    Thank you for your compassion and care for others. From what I have heard about your Dad he was a fine man. (My daughter lives in the same town). People say stupid things at the worst time. You willingness to rise above is heartwarming and inspiring. You are a wonderful tribute to both your parents and I wish you all the best.

  12. Beryl in Owatonna
    October 2, 2021 / 4:55 am

    Thank you!
    I, too, have chosen not to be ‘vaxed’. I was in the hospital most of December 2020…missing Christmas and my birthday. My best birthday gift was being able to walk to the bathroom myself, using a walker! I was in rehab getting strong enough to go home. I had masked and washed my hands as we were told, where I picked it up, I do not know. I am 78 and survived. I should now have immunity. I have never had a flu shot and will never get one of those either. I was thankful I was in quarantine while in the hospital…no visitors to have to be talking to when I didn’t feel like it. I had my knee replaced August 5…I had to be on quarantined then too…again thankful because I didn’t feel like having visitors then either. I had some long haul Covid too. Loosing a lot of my hair. I wore a wig nearly 2 months. I asked the Lord for curly hair when it grew back…He answered my prayer!!! PTL! Thankful everyday for that as I don’t have to use a curling iron anymore…just wet my hair down, comb it, let it dry and fluff it up!! No more $80 dollar perms.
    I honor the decisions people make, we are free to do just that. God is my healer and protector. My 77 year old, unvaxed, brother is recovering from Covid. He had it the first part of September. He was not hospitalized, had acute bronchitis with his illness. He is walking a mile a day now and just drove from Northern Minnesota to Nevada for the winter. We have lost friends from this sickness too and know many who have recovered.

  13. Lori
    October 2, 2021 / 1:24 pm

    Ohh, well said, thank you for being you.

  14. Elle
    October 2, 2021 / 2:19 pm

    You’re a better RN than I am. I do not understand the angst on getting the vaccine. In this country historically, the masses have taken the vaccines in public health crisis. Smallpox, Polio, Mumps, Measles, Rubella to name a few. The polio vaccine went public after 1.8 million dose clinical trial. More than 350 million doses have been given for covid with very few issues. And I seriously doubt that those who spew death statistics have investigated the actual data but likely get their data from social media memes. There are 3 documented/verified deaths after receiving the vaccine-all J/J pulmonary embolisms. And if the social media report of 7218 deaths were real, it is 0.002%. Meanwhile the deaths in this country from covid are now 1 in 500 and has surpassed 700,000.

    Public Health is the responsibility of the entire community. How many more must die? Facts matter. Science drives healthcare. If science is wrong on this vaccine, why are these unvaccinated people seeking science driven healthcare to save their lives? The irony is not lost on me.

    My Dad also died of lung cancer after smoking 124 pack years. Yes, it was his choice. BUT, his smoking did not kill or make ill, those around him. Covid can and will. Big difference.

    I know you moderate all comments. I sure hope you will publish mine.

    • thepinkshoelaces
      October 3, 2021 / 4:07 pm

      I’ll always publish your commments Elle <3

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