Sadness is a part of life. It's a human emotion that is real and painful, yet also inescapable. Since we all know what it is like to be sad, it hurts when we witness the sadness of others. Whether our saddest moments came from something small or something enormous, these low points all had lasting impacts on our memories.
9-11: Watching the WTC burn and people jumping out of the buildings live on CNN. That was absolutely horrifying on a deep, deep level that's hard to explain. It's like, it's one thing to see a car accident or a funeral or to know someone going through a terminal disease and deal with that personal grief, but the situation itself is unique.
It's another thing altogether to see an event on such a large scale and witness how EVERYBODY THERE is making those decisions of desperation and panic. Hundreds and hundreds of people.
I went to an estate auction where an old widowed man sat and watched as his children sold his life's work for literal pennies.
I saw a 13-year-old girl hobble in on crutches in front on 1,000 + people for the funeral of her mom, dad, sister, and cousins. Their lives all ended in a freak rockslide, the only reason she survived was because her dad managed to push her out of the way at the last second. Seeing her walking, so slowly and so obviously in unbelievable pain... it was absolutely heartwrenching.
I was riding the bus downtown one day and saw a large man sitting on a stone bench in front of one skyscraper sobbing his heart out. I mean snot-faced, open-mouthed, unashamed, got bigger problems than caring, SOBBING. I don't know what happened, but any grown man crying, especially in public like that, gets me right in the feels.
On the day before my oldest daughter's birth I had a no-stress test done. (Basically they put a mic on your belly and listen to your baby's heartbeats). While I was laying there comfortably, listening to the thumping of her heart in the speakers, a young woman, also heavily pregnant, is brought in to have an ultrasound because she hasn't felt any movements of her little one in the last four days.
The midwives assure her that the little boy is probably just having a calmer period, but what the heck, let's check. The gel is poured on her belly, the nurse starts looking for the baby and suddenly her face freezes and she says the last words you want to hear: "Excuse me, I'll go get your doctor." The minutes until the doctor got there ... oh man.
She was frantic, knowing that something was bad but not knowing just how bad it was. The doctor gets there, looks for a while for baby movements, then tells her that the horrible news. This poor woman's baby doesn't have a heartbeat but because the pregnancy was so advanced, they had to induce her labor. I could hear her howl-like crying even from the door of the ob-gyn ward.
The necklace I'm wearing right now brings back some of my saddest memories. Last May, I broke up with the love of my life because she moved back to France, and I couldn't handle a long-distance relationship. Three days later, I realized my mistake and called her. Her sister answered. She told me the worst thing I will ever heard. My girlfriend had hung herself.
About a month ago I got this necklace in the mail from her sister, who hand-crafts jewelry for a living. She said she made it for my girlfriend but couldn't bring herself to leave it on her grave. It's a sterling silver four-leaf clover. Clovers were her favourite. She liked them because they weren't really flowers, but could make a field look even more beautiful than a thousand roses.
Every night I look at it, and promise that I'll never love again.
Small, but poignant. I saw a homeless man light half of a cigarette that he found in the street. When our eyes met, I could see his embarrassment, desperation, and loneliness in one glance. He put his face down to hide it from me and squatted on the side of the street when a car came by and splashed water on him. He didn't really get up or say anything, just sat there looking defeated and sad. I will never forget the sadness in his face.
When I was in middle school, a new student from another country came to my class. Didn't think much of it, but it was clear that he came from a poor family from Poland. They did their clothes shopping from salvation army stuff. The second day in school, he came with a shirt with a big flower on it, the flower wasn't a design on the shirt, it actually popped out of the shirt.
I found out that everyone was making fun of him when I went into the bathroom and found him crying in one of the stalls. I felt so bad for him, he didn't have any friends, and he didn't know what to do. So I did the only logical thing to do, and I took off my shirt and gave it to him, and I took his. I had nothing to worry about wearing it, as I was well-liked in my class.
I went around to my friends and introduced him and got him to know everyone. We are friends to this day.
Growing up, I was pretty chubby. In fourth grade, I was in the 25th percentile for height, but the 75th percentile for weight. My doctor told my parents to make me exercise, so they started to take me and my sisters out for nightly walks around the neighborhood. We got to know our neighbors pretty well, because dusk was generally the time when it was cool enough for most to take walks, and our family walks were essentially mandatory for at least a year.
After I hit puberty, I grew a bunch and lost a lot of weight, but I kept walking. I kept seeing my neighbors and getting to know them better. There was one neighbor that I would always walk with at least for a couple of laps. He was an elderly gentleman named Paul. Paul was a retired engineer. His wife passed a long time before I was born, and his kids all lived out of state.
He loved to talk about engineering, about his family, and about his life in general. One of the things he would talk about the most, though, was his golden retriever, Sam. Sam was given to Paul by his daughter, who was worried about him living alone. Every time I'd walk with Paul, he'd be with Sam. For years I'd walk with both of them. When I got a car, sometimes when I drove by his house, they'd both be outside enjoying the sun.
When I left for college, Paul wrote me a really nice card and he had Sam make a paw print on the back. On holidays, I'd go home to see my family, but I'd always make it a point to go see Paul and Sam, and try to take one walk with them. On the Thanksgiving break of my sophomore year of college, I went to see Paul, but no one was at the door. No big deal, he probably wasn't home.
When I went to take a walk, though, I saw Paul walking down the street much slower than usual. I ran to catch up to him, and Paul was crying. I asked him what was wrong, and he couldn't say anything without letting out little sobs. Eventually, he stopped trying to speak and showed me what was in his hand. Folded up neatly in his palm was Sam's leash.
An elderly woman walking out of the veterinarian's office alone with an empty pet carrier, sobbing.
I was at the vet with mom and my dog, and an elderly man went into the room with his cat right as I sat down. He came out as my mom took my dog in with no cat, just a single tear coming down his cheek. I asked him if he needed anything and he just grabbed me into a hug and started sobbing. Even thinking about it is making me start to cry.
I work with kids, and over the summer I took them to a pool. One boy had a serious medical issue (I never asked what), but hair didn't grow on the left side of his head, and he couldn't use his right arm and leg very well. We get to the pool, and he's looking at me, all summer he's worn a hat, and he asks me "What do I do?" I told him he could wear his hat in the pool, and that it wouldn't be a problem.
He said, "If I wear my hat, people will wonder what's wrong with me, and if I don't, they'll ask what's wrong with me." 10-year-old kid, and that's what he spends his time thinking about. Broke my heart.
It was an out of body experience. I was completely sad and disappointed with myself. I was at my grandfather's funeral, which was far too overwhelming for me... so I snuck away into the bathroom to smoke some H off of foil. Then I imagined my grandfather looking down on me. I didn't cry, but it was intense. Wish I wasn't an addict.
Just before Christmas, I was admitted into the hospital. I was on the gynecology floor. There was an old woman in the bed across from me. She turned out to be my sister's estranged grandmother. I spoke with her, let her know who I was. She was hooked up to an IV, so she was going to the bathroom often. Before she went to bed, she asked her nurse to remove it, because she wasn't dehydrated anymore,.
Around 1 AM, her nurse came in. I was awake to hear the nurse said my sister grandma's name, not get a response, then say her name again. All of a sudden, I hear a code blue call over the speaker in the hall. I realize that they're coming to my room. I heard them work on her for about 15mins. I heard the doctor call T.O.D. And I heard the doctor deliver the news to her daughter.
It was devastating. My nurse came into me when it was said and done. She hugged me, and told me that many of them were shaken up. Stuff like that doesn't happen very often on the gynecology floor. When my doctor came to see me that afternoon, she sent me home. It was really upsetting. I cried for a few days, just unsettling being in the room when someone passes.
The day we put my husband's dog down. The dog's name was Duke, and they had been together for 12 years. Duke would sleep in the bed, and when he got too old to jump up, my husband would lift him into bed. Even when we were married, Duke would either sleep on my husband's side, on the floor, or on the bed with us. Whenever my husband came home from work, Duke would stiffly hobble down the stairs to greet him.
They had this kind of love equal, or even greater, than the love we had. Finally, Duke couldn't get up and down the stairs, he slept all day, and whined in pain whenever he moved. We knew it was time, but my husband insisted he take him for a walk first. That was the second saddest thing I ever saw, and old dog and a young man walking along the river slowly in silence.
The second was after the vet had put the injection in, Duke began to seize. Afterward, we found out it was the cancer in him that had been missed. The vet tried to suggest we leave, but my husband refused. He scooped up his dying, seizuring dog, hugged him close, and sank to the floor with Duke in his arms. He sat there, holding Duke close until finally he stopped and sighed his last breath.
It is the only time I saw my husband cry, but it was the most heartbreaking thing I ever watched.
My grandmother had been struggling with various types of cancers for the past few years. She and my alcoholic aunt had a falling out years before. One day, my aunt called and set up a time to see her (it had been years since they'd seen one another). I've never seen my grandmother so excited. My mother and I spent hours getting her dressed, doing her make-up, and drawing an eyeliner flower on her bald head (a routine we'd grown accustomed to).
We sat her up in her wheelchair which, at the time, was a huge struggle in itself. My aunt never showed. The look on my grandmother's face broke my heart. My grandmother died a month later.
I used to work in an office of people that were very close. I moved on to start my own business, working on my own, and missed the camaraderie of that place. A few months later I pick up the morning paper and on the front page is a story about a bad car accident in which a man and his seven-year-old daughter didn't make it.
Then I notice the name and realized the awful truth. It was one of my favorite co-workers, absolutely loved by everybody. He was an older dad, had his daughter when he was 40, as did I a few months later. I was shocked and saddened beyond measure. The funeral was huge. Everybody from the office, all of his customers, anyone who ever knew him was there.
It was the saddest event I have ever seen. Grown men, myself included, were openly crying inconsolably. I went through the line to speak with his wife, but knew I couldn't keep it together and went to the back of the line. It didn't help. By the time I got to the front of the line again, I was a mess. I blubbered like a baby as I told his wife how he had been a good friend and an inspiration as an older dad.
If my son hadn't already been born, I would have named him after my friend. The worst part was the two coffins, and large and one small. Many of us couldn't even approach them. One guy walked in, trying to hold it together, and when he saw that little coffin he just lost it and burst out sobbing loudly. I have never seen a more grief-stricken funeral. This was no celebration of life.
The bar I work at is where people enter and leave our province, often getting stuck here because the ferry can't operate for one reason or another. Bars in Canada have video lottery terminals, and people play them like crazy. I watched a middle-aged couple play on one for six hours, all the while their 3- or 4-year-old daughter was left to sit in their truck.
I had no idea until about 45 minutes before they left. Poor kid, I brought her out some chips, a bar, a can of pop, and a bottle of water. It's all we have for food. Her mother screamed at me that she couldn't afford to pay for it. Even after I cashed out her tickets, and pretty much knowing how much she put in the machines, I only replied, I didn't ask you to.
I used to work in a funeral home. An elderly woman who had taken care of her mentally handicapped daughter (who was between 50 and 65 years old herself) passed and the daughter stood next to the casket screaming and crying, "Why won't momma wake up? PLEASE wake up momma!" Even now, just to think of it makes my heartache.
When I was 7 months pregnant my baby passed, but my body hadn't decided it was time to deliver yet. I had to wait for weeks to go into normal labor to deliver my dead baby (my first child). During the time I was waiting we decided to get a puppy to focus our energy on. We bought two six-week-old basset hounds. They were sisters and we just couldn't bear to separate them.
We get them home, and everything seemed okay—or so we thought. One of the puppies ends up with distemper. We spent two long days and nights trying to nurse our baby basset back to health all the while our own baby was already gone. We lost the battle with the puppy. We took her to the vet for the final time, having to put the poor thing to sleep.
My husband and I walked out of the vets weeping. I delivered my stillborn daughter six days later. I have never been so sad.
I was walking through downtown when I saw a pretty little eight-year-old girl with a black eye selling candy bars in front of the Albertsons while her scary-looking father monitored her from the shadows. She was visibly frightened to sell the candy, but I think she was more frightened about not selling any candy. It was heart-wrenching.
Watching my normally very gruff granddad say "Goodbye my love" to my Nan, as she passed in her sleep at the hospital. It was the first time I ever witnessed him saying that to her.
My mom and stepdad crying when they buried their baby who was born prematurely. My little sister.
My mother struggling to thread a needle. It doesn't sound like a big deal but my mum used to be into knitting and sewing things a lot and made a lot of cross-stitched cloths for decoration and knitted loads of things for us to wear and to decorate. It was about four years ago when I just came across her in the living room and she was trying really hard to thread a needle but failing to do so.
In that moment in time, I had a sudden realization: My mother, however amazing, timeless, and beautiful she may be, was not eternal and was aging and in that moment, I also began to notice wrinkles and white hairs on her forehead. I was really angry with myself for not noticing these things and not telling her how much I loved her every single day because she was growing older and life can be incredibly cruel sometimes.
She could be here today and gone tomorrow and I still threw tantrums and was angry at her constantly for small things that really no one cares about except myself. I was really angry. And sad. So incredibly sad that even if I had this realization now, one day she wouldn't be sitting on that couch holding those needles anymore or sewing at all.
She would be memories, empty chairs, and unfinished jumpers. In that moment in time, I realized all this and it made me incredibly sad. So I went up to her and kissed her forehead and threaded the needle in and she carried on without a world and so did I.
Cancer eating the face of my bunny rabbit. The right side of her mouth was in pain so she was kissing me with the left side.
My grandparents had just celebrated their 60th anniversary last October, and my grandfather passed last November. My grandpa always used the same cologne for as long as I can remember, and he had multiple bottles around the house. My grandma went through and put one in every bathroom and the rest on her dresser, lined up against the mirror.
She would spray them all the time and the smell was so strong but we weren't going to ask her to stop. She passed over the summer and the house still smells like them both. I cry whenever I go there.
My parent's lifelong friend, Scott, was an incredible athlete, huge guy (6'5 and 300 on a thin day) and the most sincere and amazing person I've met. He was diagnosed with cancer just over 4 years ago, and over the next 3 years, he received the largest dose of radiation and chemo every given to a human being, and took it like a champ. It spread throughout his body, and eventually to his brain. He went in for surgery, had a golf ball-sized tumor removed from his brain, and proceeded with treatment.
Two years into his treatment, his daughter is proposed to, and plans to get married the summer of 2012, though it's unlikely he'll make it that far with the amount of cancerous tissue in his body at this point. Even with all this, he refuses to give up. He pushes on, going from 300 pounds or more, to 170, and losing the ability to walk, but still keeping his sense of humor and iron-willed drive to keep going. He even called my brother on a regular basis to keep him pushing with football (he's now going to be going full-ride div 1 as a running back).
So the wedding arrives, and he's still kicking. He walks his daughter down the aisle with the help of his 3 high-school buddies (my dad and his 2 friends). Then he collapses into a scooter and recovers while he watches his oldest daughter get married. After the ceremony, he finds the strength to have a dance with his daughter, again with the help of my dad and their two friends. He lasts only for 30 seconds, but the entire time you can tell it was absolute agony, except it was the most inspiring and touching moment I've ever seen.
Shortly after, he talked for about five minutes about his struggles in life, which there's no way I could do justice for here, but rest assured the hardened, tough people he drove trucks with were sobbing like little children the entire time, along with myself and everyone else in the room. He passed three weeks after the wedding. Nothing will ever hit me as hard as that, and I'm actually tearing up just recalling the whole thing.
My ex-wife and I were having issues. Most of them stemmed from a random attack she survived two weeks after we got engaged. It turned us into two different people and we got married anyway when we really shouldn't have. At the height of our problems we decided to take a few weeks apart, so I moved in with some friends while we agreed to "think about what we wanted."
In those weeks, I came to the realization I wanted to go to counseling and at least try to save our marriage. She was, during that time, sleeping with a fellow actor in a show she was doing. When I found out, I told her I was out. She begged me to go to one more counseling session (she was already seeing one but asked me to go). I agreed, and we drove out there in complete silence.
While speaking with the counselor, who called her out on the affair, I was asked if I was willing to work through this and to try and salvage this marriage. I was too mad to speak and sat in silence. At that moment, the realization that I was leaving and that it was over hit my ex. She broke down sobbing and asked the counsellor, "What I did...I've lost him, haven't I?".
It was the right decision, but that was the single hardest thing to see in my life.
I was in an accident in 2006. The driver of our vehicle was inebriated from the night before. Was cut off by a car trying to merge. Instead of turning right he turned left into oncoming traffic. We hit a Jetta head-on. My buddy was laying in the back seat and sleeping when it happened... after the truck stopped rolling and spinning I was able to get out through the back window area of the truck.
He was no longer there. Found him on the highway in a pool of blood surrounded by a group of people holding their hands over their faces trying not to look and panicking. I went on over to him and held his hand and for the 35 minutes it took the ambulance to get to us he cried and told me he didn't want to die this way over and over again.
He was in and out of consciousness and I remember right before the ambulance showed up he drifted back in and proceeded to pour out his heart to me. I've seen a lot of stuff in my 25 years. Used to be a less than honest man. Watched a few people pass. Even with all that in my past, that was by far the most emotionally disturbing thing I've ever dealt with.
In grade three, we put on a Goldilocks play. The teacher wanted to make it legit as possible, so we had to audition for whatever role we wanted to play in front of the class, and the class would vote for who they wanted to play each role. Two girls auditioned for the role of Goldilocks. One of the girls was the class sweetie who actually had curly blonde hair, and the other girl was black, and didn't have curly blonde hair.
The teacher didn't have the sense to count the votes in private, and notched up each vote on the blackboard for everyone to see. The class just sat in silence as vote after vote went up for the blonde girl, and one vote went up for the black girl (her own). The teacher just stood there looking horrified, and the black girl burst into tears.
My niece's funeral. She was born without a diaphragm and the doctors couldn't do anything for her. It was sad seeing her in the NICU. She was so small, so still, so cold. It was sad saying goodbye to her. It was sad going to her funeral. The worst part was the coffin. It was so small. I felt so sad for my little nephew because he would never get to know his sister.
I kept thinking about what if I never got to know my little sister. I don't know if I've ever cried so openly in public before.
My dad is a Patriot Guard rider and does a lot of homecomings whether it be a KIA or a unit coming back. I sometimes drive to the airport if they are coming into the regional or will meet them at the funeral home or site of the service. They are always sad, but one stuck out for me. A local soldier had passed in Afghanistan and was in his mid 30s, no children or wife, just a career military man.
The jet was set to arrive very early on a muggy, warm weekday morning. Despite this, a good amount of the public showed up along with officers and firefighters from the local area. I was talking to the father of my friend who had passed in Iraq and I asked where the family was. He said only his mom, sister, and a cousin could make it. This is somewhat rare as usually the entire family and a group of friends are there.
He pointed her out and they were talking to a liaison from the Army. A person who worked for the airport said the plane was in final approach and was landing in about two minutes. The Patriot Guards lines up, the hearse pulls into place the Army Honor Guard gets information. The family slowly walk forward, the mom is arm-in-arm with the Liaison, as the plane taxis in.
As it comes to a stop and the ground crew checks the plane. The plane opens revealing the flag-draped casket. You could see the mom slowly begin to weep and shake as she waited for her son to be unloaded. They bring over a cart-like thing that will hold the casket before being placed into the hearse. As the honor guard marches the casket over to the hearse, the mother's legs give out and the liaison is doing everything he can to help her to her feet.
She regains her composure and walks over to the casket and just falls on it, crying uncontrollably. No parent should ever lose her child, but to think she was also seeing her family slowly fade away was rough. The hearse leaves the airfield escorted by a couple of officers and the 150+ Patriot Guard riders. As her car drove by us, her face was something I will never forget.
It reminded me of someone who was deceased, all color, all life was gone from it. Just a blank expression, the only sign of life was her slowly wiping away tears. I have been to a lot of homecomings, including my friends and that one was hard but I saw all of the people there to support his family and to support each other. At one of the hardest times in her life, she only had two people who could be there for her.
I was walking home one day and I saw/overheard a mother disciplining her child. I don't know for what. This kid must have been around 10 years old, he yelled back at his mother ''At least I know I will never work at a McDonald's or clean someone else's house for a job!'' The mother froze. Everyone who was walking just stopped to watch that poor lady walk away from her brat child in tears.
The kid just stood there and he seemed to know he crossed the line. He just kinda looked around at the people staring back at him. Nobody said a word.
My mom saying goodbye to my dad for the last time before we closed the coffin and left for the cemetery. They were the real deal: best friends, real-life partners, all of it. I'm tearing up now remembering it.
I was working in a cancer ward. That's fair warning. A young woman had Stage IV cancer and a very poor prognosis. Her adorable young son came over to visit with another family. He was too young to fully understand what was happening. Just seeing him so excited to see his mom, and knowing how sick the mom was was extremely sad on its own. However, things became much worse.
When he excitedly said "My best friend is my mommy!", well, that was the most heartbreaking thing I've ever seen in my entire life.
Seeing the mother of a family friend break down in front of said family friend's casket, sobbing "My son, my dear son..." He had been bullied at work, and hung himself. The poor man was only in his 40s. He had such a full life ahead of him, but people were so cruel and awful to him that he chose to end it all. His poor mother...No parent should outlive their children.
For some reason, this still sticks out to me 15 years later. I used to visit family in Taiwan every summer as a kid. On a walk to the street market for some breakfast soy milk I saw the cutest orange tabby kitten walking along a wall. 15 minutes later and I'm walking back on the same street with the hopes of getting to pet the kitten. Instead I see a horrible sight: the kitten is now on the side of the road. It had been run over by a scooter and I still remember how its little kitten body looked.
When I was only a little kid, I watched a man end my father's life in front of my mom, my brother, and me. It was awful, obviously, but it completely ruined my mother's whole life and she really can't function in society. She's become so toxic to everyone around her that we don't even talk anymore. In a way, it's like she passed that day too.
I haven't seen it, but my mom said at the retirement home she worked at, the elderly people were... not all the way there. She said there was this one sweet old lady that always would wait in the waiting room. She had a baby doll she always carried close to her and treated like a real baby, too. She said that the woman was there every single day, waiting for her son to come visit her.
People would walk by and for anyone that would listen, she'd say, "I'm waiting for my son, he'll be here very soon!" over and over and over. But that's not even the saddest part. The woman had Alzheimer's disease, and unfortunately, her son was never coming. He had passed on in some freak accident. He never came and she always waited and that is probably the saddest thing ever.
I was at the mall eating at the food court with some friends, to the right of us there was a father with his two young daughters and son. They were celebrating his son's 4th birthday. The father made the table look really special with Spiderman decorations, a big cake, balloons, party hats...you could tell he worked really hard. He even asked us if we would take a picture of all of them.
They had just finished opened presents and was about to have cake. Then everything fell apart. A raging mad woman (the mother) walks up screaming that it's "her" day with the kids. She's screaming and he's trying to reason with her explaining he wanted to celebrate his son's birthday with him. The mother grabs the kids and drags them out of the food court. Leaving the father all alone at this nicely decorated table with an untouched birthday cake he had made.
He sat there for a good 20 minutes before cleaning.
Stopped in McDonald's for breakfast one morning. They were clearing a bad car crash at the intersection, flat-bedding a crushed Saturn. In the McDonald's sat a stunned old man. An employee came up to him and asked if he needed anything, and he said no. A couple of minutes later the manager came out with a cup of coffee and sat down with him and took his hand.
She seemed as sad a person could be, and he just looked...normal. Turns out his wife had just passed in the accident outside and he was waiting for someone to pick him up.
Without going into too much detail, I work in law enforcement and part of my task on this particular day was logging the personal effects of someone who had very recently passed in an accident. Just as I was picking it up, the cell phone lit up with the most heartbreaking text message I'll ever read. It just said, "I'm so sorry, please come back. I love you."
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