What's the worst that can happen?

Complete this sentence:

“Ugh, there really is nothing worse than…”

a) Your tea or coffee going cold before you get a chance to drink it?

b) An errant red sock getting in the white load and making all the clothes pink?

c) The plus box failing to record the last ten minutes of a film?

We’ve probably all said something like that at some time in our life.

I know the person saying it doesn’t really think a cold hot drink is worse than a genuine disaster; they’re not saying clothes that were once white dyed thanks to a stowaway sock is worse than something happening to a loved one; nor are they suggesting missing the end of a film is worse than a life-changing event.

It’s just a figure of speech, something that people say without pausing to consider its meaning.

It makes me cringe, though.

Writing for a living, I’ve got a tendency to (over) think about the meaning of words. It’s become worse this year: it is common amongst the bereaved to find deeper meaning in commonly-used words and phrases, and to become sensitive about their use in certain contexts.

There are plenty of things to be cross about in the world. Real injustice, tragedies, loss. These days, I try to shrug rather than let minor annoyances and inconveniences get up my nose. There are worse things, after all.

When I hear people say “There’s nothing worse than (insert minor annoyance or inconvenience here)” I think of Alanis Morissette’s 90’s classic song, Ironic. You know, the one where the biggest irony is that none of the things she quotes are actually ironic.

A free ride when you’ve already paid, 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife, rain on your wedding day – all annoying things.


A death row pardon two minutes too late and the plane going down – they’re on the serious/tragedy pile, certainly.

I’ll agree with Alanis, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you…no one knows what is around the corner.

Life usually really isn’t as bad as you think it is. Exaggeration, taking things for granted, getting upset about things that don’t actually matter is a waste of energy.

It’s sad that it often takes a personal tragedy for us to put things in perspective. To realise what is important. To discover it was the smallest moments that mattered most.

I know I’m probably not one to talk, with the anxiety I have as a result of this year’s events that on a bad day can make the simplest things feel challenging.

The anxiety is something I am working on, trying to get my rational mind to drown out. Remembering that worse has happened this year, and that I have survived (mostly) intact.

That’s why I try to shrug and say “Well, what’s the worst that can happen?”

Because to me, the worst already has.

To me, there really is nothing worse than being without my baby.



13 Comments on What's the worst that can happen?

  1. bettyallonby
    December 13, 2014 at 3:37 pm (5 years ago)

    The industry in which I work is RIFE with people perceiving slightly annoying situations as literally the worst thing that has ever happened.

    It’s difficult not to explain to them that, actually, what has happened doesn’t matter but I would be disciplined for pointing that kind of thing out.

    I went to work the day after my step-dad’s sister passed away (she was 40) leaving a husband, two young children and loving family and friends behind. Later that day somebody said to me that something was “The most ridiculous thing they had ever heard” (I think she had been asked to go to another department to pay for a item) and I just had to walk away.

    We are all guilty of saying the wrong thing from time to time – myself included – but I wish people would consider the wider picture when making statements.


    • Leigh Kendall
      December 13, 2014 at 5:39 pm (5 years ago)

      Oh I’ve no doubt we’ve all used a bit of hyperbole in a frustrating situation! I know it’s not meant, it’s just people not thinking about what they’re saying. It certainly sounds like you have a frustrating work environment! Thanks for commenting xxx

  2. carla
    December 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm (5 years ago)

    Big hugs for you and the husband xxxxxxx

  3. Katy {What Katy Said}
    December 11, 2014 at 10:12 pm (5 years ago)

    People really don’t think when they start moaning about their trivial ‘end of the world’ scenarios. Sometimes I have to think though, as much as there are worse things that could happen to them I certainly wouldn’t wish it upon them. So I tend to nod and smile, pretend to care and then just change the subject.
    Big hugs as always Leigh. Thinking of you x

    • Leigh Kendall
      December 12, 2014 at 11:33 am (5 years ago)

      You’re right, it’s a lack of thought rather than any harm intended. And absolutely, I don’t wish worse on anyone – I am relieved for them that they are able to worry about more trivial things. Pretending to care and then changing the subject seems a good way of handling it. Thanks Katy xxx

  4. Mummy Tries
    December 11, 2014 at 6:19 pm (5 years ago)

    I have to say I also cringe at the ‘end of the world’ scenarios which really aren’t that bad at all. Unfortunately people often just don’t think about the words that are coming out of their mouths or the audience they’re told to 😔 hugs xxx

  5. Mummy Writes
    December 10, 2014 at 11:22 pm (5 years ago)

    So true what you say about the bereaved reading into every word. I personally hate ‘Hope you’re feeling better today’ the person means nothing but goodwill but I also think it slightly means ‘I hope you feel better so you won’t talk so much about how miserable you are/will stop dragging my mood down too/stop reminding me about death… etc’.
    I don’t try to catch people out but sometimes I seem to be hypersensitive to this type of thing. It’s almost like the non-bereaved don’t stand a chance!

    • Leigh Kendall
      December 11, 2014 at 10:06 am (5 years ago)

      Oh absolutely, things take on a double meaning don’t they? And that’s such a closed question, as you say expecting or hoping you will say you are feeling better so you don’t have to talk about sad things like death. An open question is so much kinder – “How are you feeling?” I think many people just don’t think about what they are saying and how it might sound to the person they are speaking to. I know what you mean about being hypersensitive, on particularly bad days the non-bereaved can’t do right for doing wrong xxx

  6. Tara
    December 10, 2014 at 5:49 pm (5 years ago)

    “Cheer up, it might never happen… ” Is one I don’t like. Actually it already has! I think taking “what’s the worst that can happen” and making it yours is a good idea.

    • Leigh Kendall
      December 11, 2014 at 10:02 am (5 years ago)

      Oh yes, “Cheer up…” is well meant, but sometimes it makes me want to punch people. Thanks for commenting xxx

  7. blopmamma2014
    December 10, 2014 at 5:37 pm (5 years ago)

    I always try to say “It could be worse” when something happens because it almost always can.
    Sometimes throw away comments are the hardest to deal with. You feel a bit silly for being upset but it still gets to you.

    • Leigh Kendall
      December 10, 2014 at 5:40 pm (5 years ago)

      Yes, ‘it could be worse’ is another phrase. Totally, the throw away comments can be the worst, bizarrely. Glad it’s not just me xxx


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