"This father and his son were sitting next to us at a restaurant. The son was like a very happy looking 12-or-13-year-old kid who was enjoying his food. The whole meal the dad was barely acknowledging his existence despite the son making several attempts to talk about things. After a while, he just stopped trying to talk to him and you could see the happiness drain out of his face a little, but he was still jazzed about eating.
The father wasn't eating the food on his plate, but the son was, and after he finished, the waitress came by and asked about dessert. The son had a worried look on his face as he looked at his dad for approval as he ordered a brownie sundae thing. The dad just kind of scoffed as he turned the page of the newspaper he was reading. The waitress brought the sundae and the kid started eating, but after a few bites he stopped and looked dejectedly at the dessert. He asked his dad if he wanted any because he couldn't finish it and he was embarrassed about this. The dad said (this is the most he said to the kid the entire meal), 'No. I guess I just don't eat as much as you.' (I should note here, the kid was by no means fat at all...looked like an average teenage boy). The kid just nodded to himself and pushed the plate away, he really looked sad and ashamed like he was about to cry.
Maybe this triggered something in me, but I got sad real quick and had to go to the bathroom to cry for a moment. When I came back they were gone. I really hope that kid realizes his father isn't deserving of one iota of his love or affection and the dude dies wondering why his son hates him."
"I'm a stay-at-home dad, and I was dropping my son off at kindergarten. One of the other moms there has four kids, and her second child is in my son's class.
As we were about to leave, I saw the mom of four with her baby strapped to her, and her 2-year-old son was having a tantrum about walking home. I gave her the 'we've all been there, stay strong' look that parents give each other.
So the mom said to the kid, 'Why don't you go home with him, he looks like he wants you!'
My initial reaction was: 'Hey, don't drag me into your drama,' but I understand her frustration. I bent down to be eye level with the kid and I said, 'Yeah, for sure. I've got some dryer vents I can use some small arms to help me clean.'
The joke was obviously lost on the kid but the mom thought it was hilarious. Anyway, the kid opened his arm like he wanted a hug, so whatever, I gave him a hug.
Then he clung to me, for like five minutes. I said maybe five words to this kid in my life, and he was holding onto me like he was afraid of falling down.
His mom said, 'I think he misses his dad.' I was like: 'Aww is he away?' And she said, 'No he's just not a hugger. Neither am I!'
So this poor kid would go willingly into the arms of a stranger because his parents didn't hug him enough. That was sad."
"When I was a funeral director, I used to run the mortuary so I looked after the deceased who came into us primarily.
We had a 10-week-old girl who died due to neglect come into us, and we were waiting for her scummy disgusting parents to arrange the funeral, or at least give the local council authority to arrange the funeral if they couldn't afford it or didn't want to.
Sadly, it was a good nine or ten months she was with us and the family avoided all contact (calls to them were ignored or buttoned), and the poor angel just laid there in the funeral home mortuary in her tiny coffin. I had to see her and check her every morning and watched her getting more fragile and decompose every day.
Even the local bereavement office at the hospital got involved and tried to get social services to get some sort of court ruling so they could lay her to rest.
In the end, the family answered their phone and grudgingly let the council take care of the funeral. At the last minute, the dad tried to see her (the same child he and his wife let starve and waste away to death), but he couldn't as she was sadly unviewable (not to me sadly, I will have the images of her every day to remember), and the parents didn't even go to the funeral.
Every time I saw her little coffin, I died a bit inside. Not all funeral directors are emotionless, we very much feel it especially things like that.
Seeing her little coffin leave the home in the back of a limo with no family or flowers was just the saddest thing you can see."
"I work in a hospital, so I see lots of sad stuff, but nothing compared to what I saw just a few months ago.
A little boy who was being babysat by his grandmother ran out into the street and was hit by a car and killed while he and grandma were in the front yard. His grandmother was unable to do anything to stop him and intervene in any way because she was in her 70s and had to use a walker.
I remember being in the ICU waiting room after the news was broken to his parents and grandmother, and his parents were screaming and cussing at the grandma, saying how could she let this happen, they never wanted to see her again, they hated her, she would never see her any of her grandchildren again, and hoped that she would burn in Hell. It got so bad that security had to come in and intervene before it got too far.
The look on that old lady's face while her daughter and son-in-law were screaming at her is something I will never, ever forget."
"My daughter was being bullied on the bus by some terrible kids.
Her class had a project where they grew a small plant in her class that they would present to their mothers for Mother's Day.
She told me about it but asked me to keep it a secret from mom. I agreed.
Every day she would come home and tell me when the plant sprouted and she was so excited as it grew and grew. As Mother's Day rolled around, she would ask me over and over again if I thought mom would love it. I always reassured her that yes her mom would absolutely love it because she has worked so hard to take care of it and help it grow...just like she had done with you.
On Mother's Day, I was excited to see the plant. I happen to be home from work that day and she comes home looking extremely sad.
I asked her what was wrong and I could tell she was on the verge of tears.
She reached out her small hand and held out half of a broke styrofoam cup with some dirt in it. The cup had been crushed and half of the words 'I love you mommy' were written on what was left of it.
The dam broke as she said, 'Happy Mother's Day momma' and she crumpled to the ground balling.
My daughter, so proud of her plant, decided to show the other kids on her way home the gift she was going to give her mom. A boy promptly snatched it out of her hand and threw it to the ground. Everyone laughed as he stomped on it and then grabbed the plant and threw it out the window.
My daughter said she didn't cry because she wanted them to think she didn't care about the plant and that it didn't affect her. She was always the last stop on the way home and she grabbed what she could of the cup and some dirt and tried to salvage anything left. To add insult to injury, the bus driver yelled at her that she was going to clean it up in the morning.
I don't know if I mentioned this...but she was in the first grade at the time. She was 6 years old.
We bought a kit from the hardware store to build our own garden in the backyard since it seemed like she was interested in that sort of thing. It wasn't really the same though.
Watching your kids see just how crappy people can be for the first time is crushing."
Ann in the uk/Shutterstock
"Two things, both with our foster son (who has returned home to his mom).
One: the day we returned him to his mom. We had to pick him up from school (disturbing his nap, which sucked) and take him to the social services office. We waited there for a while with all his stuff packed up in boxes. The social worker came down and told us we could leave and took him from us. Little dude freaked out. He was screaming and kicking and looking at us frantically as we slowly walked away from him. It was horrifying and it broke us completely. We managed to make it into the parking lot where they couldn't see us before we completely fell apart and sobbed openly.
Two: After he went home, his mom allowed us a day visit with him (about a month after). I picked him up at 9 am, and he looked...out of it. He reeked of smoke (he's asthmatic, this is bad), was wearing clothes that were way too small (some of which he had been sent with five months prior when he arrived in care, despite us sending two tubs FULL of clothes home with him), and was totally lethargic. He perked up after an immediate nap at our house, but it was scary. When it was time to take him home, the mom met us at the car. She got him out of his car seat, but once she was standing with him in her arms, he started reaching for us. We said no and he freaked out. He was pushing against his mom, crying, and screaming for us...just like before. We kept it together better this time, but it was frightening to see that he didn't even want to go to his mom, he wanted to stay with us.
Sadly, we don't have rights to him as foster parents, even if we feel like we could do it 'better' (which is a matter of perception). We can report things we find out about that are abusive/neglectful, but we can't do anything based on a toddler throwing a fit during a drop-off.
There was no proof of him being abused. Being overly-tired and smelling like smoke isn't enough, unfortunately."
"We were poor growing up and even poorer after dad left. My mom worked her tail off supporting myself and my three older siblings, but she was not equipped to be a single mom and a lot of balls got dropped. None of us kids cared, but mom took it hard because so much of her identity was built around being able to provide for us.
One particularly hard month, we were all home from school waiting for mom to get home and the power went off. We looked out the front window and saw a man from the power company walking away from the side of our house. We didn't know what it was all about.
An hour later, my mom came home a little later than usual. She was carrying a take-and-bake pizza that she had bought as a treat for us on her way home. We hadn't had pizza in a couple months. Most nights dinner was noodles and gravy. I still can't make it like mom did, but if you grew up in poverty you know how poverty food from your parents can still taste better than anything you can buy.
My mom walked in the door and my sister told her what had happened, and I saw my mom break. She had stretched herself so far to get just this $10 pizza and thought that she had more time to pay the bill, and now she couldn't even cook it for us, and she just...broke."
"My grandfather died after a long fight with ALS. In the end, he could pretty much only move his eyes under his eyelids, and sometimes not even that.
After he passed, I sat with my mom and grandma for a long time. Every ten minutes, my grandma checked his nose with a mirror, hoping to find him still breathing, hoping it wasn't true.
Easily the saddest thing I've ever seen."
"The week before last Christmas, I decided it was time to put down my dog, Runtworth James Dio III. He had severe skin allergies, and I had pulled him back from the brink so many times. We'd tried all the medications, diet changes, etc. It was just time.
I laid down in bed that night and--sobbing--told him, 'If you are ready, you tell me, and mama will take care of the rest. I'll take care of you, baby bear.' He put his paw on my arm, then looked up and away stoically. His brave, 'I'm ready, mom' pose.
I spent that week spoiling him rotten. Every day he got something special after I got home from work. French fries while I read aloud, hamburger while I brushed him--his last night, he got prime rib for dinner.
I knew he was ready, I knew I was ready, but I'd raised him since the day he was born, and it was so hard to let him go.
My aunt drove us to the vet. He rode in my lap, and I held him tightly with a blanket wrapped around him because his bare, scarred skin was cold from the winter chill.
My vet came in on his day off so the other vet--the one we didn't know very well--wouldn't be the one putting him down. We'd worked so hard together to keep Runt healthy, and he knew he shouldn't say goodbye with a stranger.
They gave him some medicine to relax him, and while we waited for it to take effect, I held him and talked to him as we watched people go by outside the window of the exam room.
We were ready. He was ready. But his last-moment struggling as the needle went in before he finally went still wrenches my heart.
What if he changed his mind at the last second?
What if he didn't want to go?
I miss my dog."
"I was working on a crappy neighborhood at a city housing complex. While on a break and chatting with my co-worker, a little boy came running at us crying. I asked him what was wrong. He begged us to call the police. I did so while standing with him. His mom's boyfriend was beating the life out of his mom.
The cops were there in seconds. They threw the loser down trying to run away. The saddest thing was the little guy was holding a Batman toy to his chest as hard as he could the whole time."
"My coworker's good friend was pregnant when she found out her husband was killed in an automobile accident. She had the baby a few weeks later, but her mental anguish was taking a toll on her. One night, she fell asleep while nursing the baby and the poor baby got smothered to death.
My coworker came to work and was so distraught that she couldn't even talk to customers. She just sat in her office, crying, and I felt so horrible that I couldn't do anything to make it better for her or her friend.
Here I am, worrying about stupid stuff, and seeing this kind of pain puts things back into perspective for you."
"I have a student who is clearly on the Autism spectrum. He comes into music class saying things like 'I'm so dumb' or 'I can't do this.'
For our final project, I needed him to write lyrics for a blues song we were creating. Five to six classes go and the same responses of not being able to do it or 'I'm not creative enough.'
I was trying to redirect his thinking or asking him if there was anything he likes to do so he can write about it. This has been a problem that this student's teachers and our counselors have been addressing, but his parents are refusing to believe that their child needs any kind of assistance and thinks that he just needs to study more and he'll be fine.
So I asked him what he likes to do outside of school and he says 'I don't do anything. My parents make me study from when I get home until 10 pm.'
I then asked, 'What about this summer? I'm sure you'll have time to play video games or go outside.'
He then said, 'No, my parents are making me study and do more work so I'm ready for next year. They don't let me do anything.'
I've been so bummed for him."
"A few years ago, I passed a homeless woman on the streets who was barefoot, dirty, and disheveled looking. The city I live in (Perth, Australia) is rich and prosperous, people are walking by her like she doesn't exist. She had the saddest look on her face I had ever seen - not upset or crying, just..broken. Her spirit was gone. Her sign said something like, 'I was violated a few months ago and got pregnant, now I need money for medical checkups, clothes, and food for my baby.' Whether the story was true or not I have no idea, but she was clearly pregnant.
It absolutely crushed my heart. I just stood at a distance and watched her for about 10 minutes with no idea what to do, before just walking away like everyone else. I will never forget her face. Her baby would be 3 or 4 years old by now."
"I am Indian, so because of the poverty, sometimes I see some pretty sad scenes. When I was younger and had no money, I saw a dying street dog whimpering on my way back from school.
I think it may have been hit by a vehicle since it wasn't moving and its leg was in a weird angle. Mind you, this is India where even people often don't get this type of thing medically serviced, much less dogs. I then saw the local beggar, who knocked on car windows for pennies, go to the local store and buy some water and biscuits. He then went to the dog, kneeled down, comforted it, and gave it some biscuits and water.
I just watched for a few minutes, but it seemed like he was there the whole time until it died. I didn't talk to him at the time, but the next day on my way back to school, I asked another local if he saw what happened afterward. Apparently, the guy took the dog and buried it someplace instead of leaving it to rot on the street, which would be par for the course."
"My grandfather died last Christmas, almost 20 years after his wife and after a lengthy and very draining battle with dementia. When we were standing around his casket at his funeral, I heard how my mom asked him to 'please, say hello to mom for me."
It's so odd to see your parents like that because they kind of always seem so strong, but on those occasions, they just seem like people."
"I was hanging out with a friend of mine while he was working at a gas station store.
Someone came in, bought a bunch of scratch tickets, went to a nearby counter to scratch them, cashed out the winners, used winnings to buy more, and he kept doing it until all the money was gone.
My friend said that sort of thing is pretty normal. I don't think I could work at a gas station."