Nora McInerny

Benefitting Still Kickin’

At 31, Nora McInerny was happily married to a man named Aaron, with a toddler named Ralph and a career in advertising. But in 2014, over the span of 6 weeks, she miscarried her second child, lost her father to cancer and then her husband Aaron to a brain tumor. In this episode, Nora shares, with her trademark honesty and humor, how our Western culture has woefully unprepared us to talk about death, and what to do when someone you know is going through something really, really terrible.

Wise Words

  • “Life is frail, and it can be taken from you pretty quick.”

  • “Your husband is 35. You don't want this special seat on your toilet. It's just all humiliating and awful and yet you do it all and you do it because you love this person and because you do anything to make anything easier on them.”

  • “It's very difficult to have a connection to life without having like a connection to death. We're a very death-avoidant culture. We do anything to keep people alive or to stay alive and death is not as frightening as I thought that it would be.”

  • “I'm very anti the phrase ‘moving on’. I just think that should be stricken from our vocabulary around grief and loss because you don't move on. You keep living, you move forward, but these experiences remain a part of us.”

  • “It seemed antithetical to me that I could be falling in love which is such a present experience and also be grieving which seemed as if, ‘Oh, that's a past experience. Well, no, that's a present experience too.’ It felt as if those things were at odds. It felt as if they were not allowed to coexist or that I would have to explain it to people.”

  • “If you can physically show up and shovel someone's sidewalk in a snowstorm, that's what you do. That's what my neighbors did. If you can show up and bring somebody's child to daycare and the kid knows you and will get in your car happily, then that's what you do. You do the thing that you are capable of and that you will do and preferably the thing that you will do consistently for a person. You don't ask them, "What can I do?" because they don't know. They don't know what they need and they don't know what you're capable of. You just do a thing and you do it and you never ask, ‘Did you get that thing?’”

  • “You never wonder about a thank you. You do it for no gratification whatsoever. You do it fully expecting you'll never ever hear a thank you from that person. They've got so much on their minds. In fact, add in a card, ‘Don't thank me for this.’”