Some people didn’t survive 2020 (and other triggering tropes)

I know, I know. I can just hear the loud eye rolls and the KARI. HOLY SHIT, DUDE. TAKE A FREAKING JOKE! statements. But…Just bear with me for a sec here.

If you know me IRL – you know I love jokes and I love to take jokes. I had no choice but to learn that after being married to Aaron for 13 years. Honestly, the dude never cut me a break and I quickly learned to reciprocate.

Now, after the last two years of my life, I really love me some of the darkest dark jokes. But there’s just something about some of these 2020 tropes that have me like “…wait. but not everyone survived tho?” And we’re talking some big, traumatic, publicized deaths: stuff like a pandemic and police brutality.

I don’t share this to be a buzzkill. I mostly share this as a way to spread awareness for my beloved dead fam club as we dive back in to the normalcy of 2021. We’re not all perfect in everything we say. If we were, life would be pretty damn boring. ( Like, don’t put me in a perfect world where Real Housewives can’t exist please.)

So my goal in sharing these few thoughts is to drive a little empathy as we’re navigating the newness of 2021 after the heaviness of 2020. Especially in our conversations with others who were heavily affected by that deep, deep shit. Like for some, it was just the shittiest.

So hopefully we can all keep a football-field-sized space for empathy toward those who did lose love in 2020 – whether that was a grandma, child, mom, husband, etc. And I hope we can find ourselves considering our audience when we throw out a survival joke or new year, new life trope.

  • “I/we survived 2020!”

I know I’m such a bummer when I say this – but not everyone did survive 2020. And these jokes can serve to trigger and hurt those who had loved ones that didn’t survive the year. And damn there are a lot of us. Death peaked this year, so it might be time to reconsider our survival and will to live jokes. Or at least who we share them with as 2021 takes off and 2020 makes for some prime comedy.

  • “2020 is behind us now.”

Correct. Yes. Factually, time works in a way that 2020 was a year and now 2021 is a year and we sit in the year 2021 but no longer 2020. Let’s acknowledge that science, space, and time rules.

But – jokes aside – 2021 hopefully also marks a moment in time that represents newness, healing, and a brighter future on the horizon. I do see that and feel that, even as part of the 2020 dead fam club.

For many, 12 AM on Jan 1st didn’t change anything. I personally would have loved to wake up on Jan 1st forgetting all of my past trauma, loss, and memories – but sadly that just didn’t happen. The grief that 2020 created for individuals and the world continues to press forward to future months and years, and it’s okay to still not be okay. It’s okay to say it was a hard year without saying anything else.

  • “Bye 2020. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

Again, yes. I agree. In my last post about Sloan’s wild 2020, I ended it with “Bye 2020. See you never. (…asshole)” – and I did that for good reason.

I firmly believe 2020 was an asshole for so many.

However, saying goodbye to 2020 means my first year without Aaron. And it means another year without my mom. So I didn’t wake up today screaming YAY 2021 – I woke up hurting that they aren’t here to say YAY 2021 with me. There are a lot of us in that camp today, too. I mention this in hopes that we all continue to keep this in mind as there are people that just don’t want to say bye to some of the things 2020 held for them quite yet. And many times, it’s because that was the last year they were able to hug someone they loved with all of their heart.

Overall, I promise this isn’t meant to be a post emphasizing we all need to be dark, emo, grumpy metalheads that shop at Hot Topic on the weekends and can’t find any peace or light in 2021 being a new year.

My goal here is to simply establish empathy and understanding. Sometimes jokes don’t land well with everyone, and instead of serving to comfort or validate ourselves through humor and toxic positivity: let’s take a moment to consider the human standing in front of us and what they need to hear in their hard moments. And hard moments extend beyond calendar years and finite dates.

And, ultimately, let’s skip the “we survived 2020” trope – because the person you’re speaking with might know someone who simply didn’t survive.

TL;DR? Skip survival jokes when you’re talking to a card-carrying member of the dead fam club.

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