Ignorance is Bliss

When using the word “ignorant” to describe someone it is generally not meant to be a compliment. We all know that this word means that the person is “lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular”.

I work in an industry that requires me to oversee large public improvement projects. When I say large, they can range from a couple of million dollars in construction cost all the way up to 2-3 hundred million. A co-worker of mine is currently overseeing one of these 300 million dollar projects and he is feeling a lot of pressure to make sure his team delivers. It’s not uncommon for members of his team to work 60-80 hour weeks designing one of these projects. As you can imagine, the hours worked and stress of one of these projects weights heavy on most of the team members.

I stopped by this coworker’s office recently and could see the stress he was carrying. I sat down and let him vent about some of his team members and how they really don’t see the big picture of what we have to accomplish. They don’t understand that our business depends on delivering a quality project in order to get another project from our client. They don’t understand the business model and the fact that if we don’t get another project, they will not have a job/paycheck. They just show up to work, do what their told and go home. They don’t think for themselves and rely heavily on the project leader to tell them what to do. At the end of his venting, I said, “ignorance is bliss”. We both laughed and he said “that would be nice not to know, to live in your own little world”.

I spent the rest of the day thinking about that statement, “ignorance is bliss” and thought about what I have been through with the loss of my children. I wish I was ignorant to this nightmare. I wish I didn’t know the pain of burying a child. I wish I didn’t know the aftermath that people go through after burying a child. I wish I didn’t know about days you can’t get out of bed because the pain is so emotionally and physically destructive. I wish I didn’t know about the long term impacts of losing a child. I wish I didn’t have to hear from all of the other dads (and moms) that have also been on this path. The reality is I do know, I wish I didn’t, but I can’t change that fact.

I also thought about the people on my co-workers team. Maybe they aren’t ignorant after all. Maybe they understand that “you don’t know what you don’t know” and they are perfectly ok with that. There was a time after the loss of Katie and Noah that I took on the mindset of “I’m doing the best I can and if that isn’t good enough for you then to bad.” That was the only way I could have survived. I didn’t allow myself to take on more stuff.   I had reached my capacity and then some. However, over the last couple of years I have allowed myself to worry about stuff that really doesn’t matter. Getting out of bed every day with a smile and a sense of peace should be the only thing that matters.

Is ignorance bliss?

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User Comments ( 18 )

  • Before March 8, 2010, I thought only kids in books and tv shows got STUPID cancer. Sure, I “knew” kids got cancer – heck I went to a fundraiser every year to help kids in the hospital. But, I never REALLY thought about it. But on march 8, 2010, I heard the words “I am sorry we found a mass in Alexander’s abdomen”. Just 13 months later he died. Yes, I wish I could still be ignorant to such things. But, since I can not go back, I move forward. I try to help those whose kids are now fighting STUPID cancer, I do what I can to make sure others are AWARE. I also help those who have landed on this horrible side of the cancer journey – that without their beautiful children.

  • My friends I need your help and I am sorry because I know what you are all going through but I cannot stop breaking down in tears and feeling nothing but sadness every waking day.I feel that this site is the only place where understanding and advice will be given and I would not want to be anywhere else.

    • Bill – No need to be sorry, that’s why I created this blog, we’re here to help the best we can. Call me (630) 561-5989

    • Steven


      You can email me if you need another guy to talk with. I will send you my number.



  • Steven

    It has been 3 years, 9 months, 1 day and 8 hours since COlin was pronounced dead. I don’t even need to think about it and I know. It is one of those things that just is there and for some uncanny reason, I can tell you how long it has been at any give moment. I hate that I can tell you people how long it has been since my son died, but I just can. So, I wish I were ignorant to my pain, because it hurts every second of every minute, of every hour, of every day of my life. However, I am oddly blessed that I am no longer ignorant to the pain of others. I can see it in the faces of people who have buried their child(ren). This has allowed me to be more compassionate, more forgiving, and much more aware of the bigger picture that is life. So, through my lack of blissful ignorance, I have become more human in many other ways. Life is just screwed up in that way I guess, but all we can do is play the cards we are dealt…even if we have to bluff once in a while.

    • Steven,

      I appreciate your thoughts and reminders to the “good” things that can come out of it. I too have become more compassionate, more forgiving, loving, patient, etc. It does allow one to understand the important things in life. We have no choice but to play the cards we are dealt, we cant fold on this one.



  • John Wolfe

    When I retired from the Navy in October 2000, we moved from Virginia to Texas and I got a job as a maintenance electrician at a major newspaper. At the time, my baby girl was just starting high school and making new friends. I remember working with a maintenance mechanic that was good at his job but rarely said much in the way of general conversation. I didn’t think much of it at the time and just thought that he wasn’t the conversational type. A few years later I found out that his only boy had been in a tragic accident and had died, so I then thought I understood the aloofness and unsociable behavior. I don’t know at what point after Allison died that I thought of this man again because by then I had changed jobs and hadn’t seen him in several years. But in that moment I truly understood his “unsociable” behavior. I had become that man.

    The term “ignorance is bliss” doesn’t apply to all situations, but for me it certainly does when referring to the death of a child. My reaction to the news that this man had lost his child was one of unspoken sympathy. Upon gaining that knowledge I didn’t go up to him and say, “I’m sorry for the loss of your child.” because I thought that it would stir up bad memories for him and possibly make him angry (he was a BIG guy!). Instead I chose to live my life as if nothing like that would happen to me, that one day my daughter would grow up, get married, have a good life and be the one that put me in the ground when the time came. She did all of those things except the last one.

    I wish for every parent the blissfulness of ignorance concerning the death of a child. This road is not an easy one to travel and it already has far too many people on it.


    • Thanks for sharing that story John! I too wish every parent the blissfulness of ignorance concerning the death of a child. Very tough road to travel in deed.



  • Just had a situation happen today where a coworker complained that she had to pick up her kids in the rain. I wish I could pick up my daughter from daycare again. Kelly, thank you for posting this today. Really needed to hear it.

    • AJ,

      I hear you. You might want to read this article I wrote a couple of years ago on that subject.


      I think you’ll connect with it.



    • my son Alexander SHOULD have been going to kindergarten this year. I got frustrated when my friends this year said things like “stop growing up so fast” or “oh my baby is going to kindergarten!” I wanted to scream to them JUST BE HAPPY YOU BABY GETS TO GO TO KINDERGARTEN

      • We cannot really be mad at our friends for enjoying their lives. If our lives were reversed, we would be the ones ignorant to the pain / grief that consumes us. We should be happy that our friends don’t have to live with this. This pain is non transferable… and that is a good thing.

        Last Thursday would have been my daughter’s 3rd birthday. We had a party in her honor Saturday. We collected over 100 toys and donated them Sunday to the firehouse that came to our house on that terrible Sunday morning in July. We also brought lunch to the firefighters.


  • Colin

    I didnt understand or fathom what it was like until I experienced it myself, YA, I wish I was ignorant in this topic.

  • Absolutely! Ignorance is Bliss. I thought I understood that phrase before my daughter died. I remember the days before I lost my daughter when I could not truly imagine the depth of pain that a parent feels. I’m not completely without empathy, but it is very different to feel it inside every cell in your body. Now I know and I truly would not wish this on my worst enemy. You wrote a great post!

    • DW – Glad you enjoyed the post. It’s really not possible for someone to know what “this” is and how it impacts every aspect of your life. There is no way to explain it unless you live it.



  • Andrew Gill

    Most of the time ignorance is bliss, but sometimes it’s agony! I see other parents with twins (most of whom don’t realise that my daughter is actually a twin too), and they often complain how hard it is to have to do everything twice and how it does not get easier as thier kids get older. I’m sure it is a juggle, and I am ignorant of how it feels to be in this siutation, but oh how I wish that I had juggling my two living daughters as my biggest concern. Ignorance of how it would feel to look after both my daughters is agony every time, but the other parents ignorance must be bliss. I never tell them we lost our Katherine. I would not take thier ignorance away, i’d rather that they keep thinking that the stress of looking after both kids is the worst thing that they could have to deal with.

    • Andrew – Yes that must be a very difficult challenge to hear some of the parents talk about how “tough” they have it. Not saying it s not, but I would certainly trade them “challenges”. I am confident it would be a much lesser load.

      Thanks for your input.



      • Andrew

        Thanks Kelly. I was wollowing a little after reading your latest post, and replying, and something hit me. It just about killed me to lose Katherine but my other kids kept me going. I am ignorant of how it would be to lose both your children, and must admit I don’t know that I’d survive it if I lost all my kids. I hope you are doing ok at this time of year. My thoughts are with you and I’m sending what little strength I have your way.