If I had a penny for every ridiculous comment I got when people learned about my toxic mold fiasco, I would be a hundredaire. Seriously. It just blew my mind what came out of some people’s mouth. Yes, there were some well-intentioned comments in the mix but for the most part, people just blurted out whatever was running across their prefrontal cortex at the time.
When you are dealing with someone in the midst of a tragedy (like a victim of mold exposure), the best thing you can do is pause before you say anything.
Make sure what comes out of your mouth is helpful and supportive. You might truly be at a loss for words. THAT’S OK! Just say so! I would have rather heard “I have no idea what to say” than some of the other comments I heard. In fact, I really respected the people who admitted they really didn’t know what to say.
Today I am sharing 25 things not to say to a victim of mold exposure. These are all actual comments and questions I received both in person and via email. I laugh over some of them now but others actually leave a little sting. I’m sure some will leave you shaking your head. I made sure to note my opinion after each comment. My opinions are in parenthesis in case that isn’t clear. And yes – I am being overly snarky because it is fun. I didn’t really reply to people like this. I’m far too nice.
25 Things NOT To Say To A Victim Of Mold Exposure
- Are you sure? (Nope – not sure. Just guessing.)
- Mold can’t make you sick. (Insert curse word followed by ‘you.’)
- You’re kidding? (Yes – I’m quite the stand-up comedian over here.)
- That sucks. (This one grated on me quite a bit.)
- You are never given what you can’t handle. (Well pardon me. Let me put on my big girl panties and handle this with giggles and a smile.)
- This too shall pass. (You’re right. I lost everything. EVERYTHING. But as soon as I purchased some clothing, I had something again. So I guess the loosing everything has now passed. Thanks! Great pep talk.)
- Well you’ve always talked about downsizing. (There are no words for this one.)
- Mold isn’t toxic. (See response to #2.)
- What do you mean you don’t have a lawsuit? Of course you do! (Oh my bad. The attorneys we all talked to are wrong).
- So now that you left the house you are healthy again right? (Yep – a unicorn came by and pooped glitter and rainbows on us and all our health issues just magically disappeared.)
- Mold didn’t cause any of your health issues. It just doesn’t work like that. (Good working with you but I will be looking for a new primary care doctor. Thankyouverymuch.)
- We can’t cover that bloodwork because toxic mold exposure isn’t considered a qualifying medical condition. (So I am paying for health insurance for what reason again??)
- You’ll bounce right back. You always do. (Shame on me for thinking that maybe detoxing from mold would take more than a day.)
- Everything happens for a reason. (And that reason would be…?)
- Have a glass of wine and some chocolate. (Are they covered in glittery unicorn poop? If not, they have no power.)
- You don’t really have to throw everything away. That’s just clever marketing. (By whom? The toxicologist, microbiologist, and environmental M.D.? That’s right. They aren’t interested in my health – just consumerism. THIS is honestly the stupidest comment I heard).
- Aren’t you going to miss your stuff? (Thank you for asking the obvious. Of course I am going to miss certain things. Nothing like rubbing some salt in the wound.)
- Is your daughter upset about this? (No. She is 5 years old and she just lost her entire life. She had to leave her daddy and her cats. She has nothing. She has never been happier. Her smile lights up a room. For the love of all that is holy – OF COURSE SHE IS UPSET.)
- Can I have your shed? (Seriously? We just lost everything, are in a financial crisis not of our making and you want to TAKE our shed. One of the only things we can sell to generate some much needed capital. See response to question #2.)
- What are you going to do with your daughter’s bike? My response – keep it. It was outside. Oh darn. We really needed a bike for our daughter. You sure you should keep it? (Again with the taking of things after we just lost everything! Here is a novel idea. Offer to replace something my daughter lost instead of taking one of two things she got to keep.)
- Where will you live? My response – I don’t know yet. How can you not know? Don’t you have a game plan? (Ah yes – game plan! I knew I forgot something when I walked away from my home last week. The game plan for the rest of my life is sitting on the counter. Duh!)
- Are you mad? (Nope. Elated. Never been better.)
- Just put on some Bob Marley. Every little thing’s gonna be alright. (No snarky comment because reggae soothes my soul but in this case, it didn’t solve my woes.)
- I will call you in two days and see if you need anything. (Hello? Hello? Is there anybody there? You said you would call. I actually DO need something. Hello? 6 months later – still no call.)
- There are much worse things that could happen. Do you know how lucky you are? (DO NOT EVER say this to someone. Period. My tragedy IS the worst thing that could happen to me AT THAT MOMENT. Yes, there are people much worse off. Yes, losing everything I owned might be considered a privilege because I actually had things to own. But it doesn’t take away the heartache, the pain, the anger, and the resulting changes to the rest of my life. You would be surprised how many times I heard this. It was the only comment that that actually raised my blood pressure.)
Fun times right? Just like I survived Moldageddon, I survived these ridiculous comments. But I’ll tell you – sometimes it took every ounce of strength I had to keep my cool. Never mess with someone at their wit’s end.
What was your favorite comment? I’m curious to see which one would have gotten your blood boiling.
If you are concerned that you might be dealing with mold in your home, please be sure to check out my new website Mold Help For You. Everything you can imagine is there to help you through this tough time.
Lisa McMichael says
I could have cried when I read this post. Hardly anyone understands the seriousness of living in a moldy home, and this is my second time around. My kids don’t want to move, I have kids in 2 different school districts, pets, and am trying to learn all about mold and what I need to do. Jennifer I cannot thank you enough for your posts, which have so informed me. Just to know that you understand what I am going through and take the time to help others.
Thank you from the bottom of my totally overwhelmed and devastated heart.
You are most welcome! I wish no one had to go through this. It will get better. It has to. I tell myself that as often as I need to.
Oh good God. I have both tears and hysterical laughter reading my way through this. Both for the same reason. We are living this right now. Except I’d add to your list now some comments based on the “excitement” or “vacation” we GET since we are currently out of our homes. God knows if it’s all going to be a total loss, or what…but knowing that it’s not safe for us to live there. They’ve done mold remediation, and we still have too much left. Everyone is saying it’s surely better now. I went to the doctor to be told that there are several such cases of respiratory illnesses, flu like symptoms, etc – so – enjoy these 10 days of antibiotics and sterroids. Even though we KNOW you have confirmed 3 separate toxic molds….it’s just you being paranoid. All your health woes couldn’t be related…or probably not. But, in 10 days, if this hasn’t worked, then we can dig deeper.
Sorry, I could go on…but I suspect you “get” it.
But the next person who talks about the “vacation” we’re getting after this can kiss my um….rear end. I have one child who died 7 months ago from cancer, and two others living. My goal is to make sure everyone remains healthy. Gets tested. HAS A SAFE PLACE TO LIVE. Silly me. haha
I can so relate! And a vacation….there are no words for that one! I don’t think I would have a polite response for that one.
I agree with alot of it, she didn’t mention the ones I get all the time:
“You don’t seem/look/sound sick”
“Wow, i think I might have mold too!” Instead of showing any concern, like this is water cooler chatter, or some new trend everyone wants to get in on.
Or comparing my illness to whatever they have, or basically making it sound like whatever I have is nothing compared to what they have, or that I don’t have a right to complain because I haven’t had this as long as they’ve had ____ .
Instead of just listening to me, and caring, or using what they have to give me advice or reassurance instead of making it into a fucking competition.
I’ve only had a handful of people react positively to it. One being my doctor. A few being good friends, or good people I know in general. And one being someone who even though were usually at odds, has had some surprisingly supportive moments during this.
i have ALWAYS told people not to downplay other people’s pain, but it seems most people insist on living that way, instead of just giving a shit, for goodness only knows what reason. And now i find myself personally on the receiving end. I want to punch these people. Really hard.