The most heartbreaking single article you've ever read?

What’s the most heartbreaking single article you’ve ever read?

This is a question I asked on Twitter. What happened next may shock you! Or drive you into a deep depression!

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Hands down the winner was this article. I mean it wasn’t even close.

I don’t recommend reading it, but if you do, be prepared. I am not fucking kidding. It won a pulitzer and I can see why, because it will cut a god damn hole all the way through you.

Some runners-up that are a bit easier to process, but still utterly heartbreaking in their own ways:

http://www.pulitzer.org/works/2002-Feature-Writing (1st runner up, another pulitzer)

http://blog.codinghorror.com/somebody-is-to-blame-for-this/ (my previous winner, just watch the video)

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/06/23/323330486/how-a-womans-plan-to-kill-herself-helped-her-family-grieve

Good luck. You’re gonna need it.

Why would I do this? I don’t know, we recently had to euthanize one of our cats due to cancer, and I wanted to understand that whatever pain and grief I had, it was a fraction of what’s really out there. We all have it so, so damn good and we just don’t realize.

Now you do, right?

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I don’t know. I recall articles about symphysiotomies, other forms of abuse in medicine, abuse in the porn industry, the Holocaust, the allied decision to continue to imprison Holocaust survivors who were gay cis men and trans womyn, thalidomide, ongoing genital mutilation of intersex children, fishery depletion, soil depletion, global warming, the comments sections of major news sites, and this:

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I should have clarified: other than the 3rd entry there from my blog, those articles were all suggestions on “most heartbreaking” from people who follow me on Twitter. I hadn’t even seen most of them before except for the Eric Meyer story.

I guess there’s a lot of heartbreak.

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Do you like being seized by existential, profound depression? If so, then please to be enjoying

I guess a lot of this is like looking in a mirror: what do you fear most?

And for me, at the very top of that list, written in 500 point bold red letters, underlined and circled with a gold star, is failing your children in such a way that you, directly or indirectly, cause their death.

It is a brutal punch in the gut, every god damn time. And that’s merely reading about it, safely on the other side of a computer screen. Imagining what it would be like to live through this stuff – that is staring directly into the abyss.

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Also

The above does not quite capture heartbreak, per se, but it’s achingly close and beautifully written. I think about this man’s story a lot.

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(here’s hoping I didn’t just predict the future)

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Can’t believe I forgot this harrowing tale

http://www.otherhand.org/home-page/search-and-rescue/the-hunt-for-the-death-valley-germans/

They brought a four year old with them :frowning:

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Haven’t finished reading it, but what the everloving fuck were these people thinking?

“Mein Gott it’s hot! I hope it rains tomorrow in this wasteland desert!.. Where there’s no trees. Or animals bigger than a kestrel. Or water. Or anything really, for miles around as far as the eye can see.”

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I’m going to read this, but from your and @codinghorror’s link I take it that it’s about done German tourists in Death Valley. From what I understand, Germans love Death Valley and probably contribute a significant amount of tourism dollars at Furnace Creek. Maybe @renke could offer some insight?

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not really, I heard of the Death Valley and I’m sure it’s a rather well-known US landmark here in Germany - however, I’m not aware of a specific love.

but German tourists with idiotic/non-existing equipment are a dime a dozen. the Alps are full of idiots wearing sandals above the tree line.

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Thanks, @renke.

And thanks @codinghorror for the reading suggestion. I’m currently mesmerized by the narrative (the author is a very talented writer) and I’m just beginning his day hike chapter (maybe part iv?). Cheers!

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…oh yes, another day I’m not getting timely to bed because of something BBS gave me…

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The fatal distraction story instantly reminded me of “shaken baby syndrome” and the reality that it’s not always what people think it is.

Yeah. It’s a compelling read. And really sad. People from Europe and especially the UK often just don’t quite get the scale of areas in the US.

Like that saying: To an American, a hundred years is a long time, and to a Brit, a hundred miles is a long journey.

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To be fair, IME Americans don’t get the scale of Australia either.

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It’s pretty much as big as the US, right? Except even emptier. Driving Seattle to Salt Lake City really gives you an appreciation for how vast and empty the world mostly is. And that’s just a small fraction of the desert driving available in the US.

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After listening to a European tourist talk about Ayers Rock I was all excited and then I found out how long it takes to get there, and it really isn’t on the way from anywhere to anywhere else… But when I asked if it was worth the trip for just one big rock, they were like “absolutely!”

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With less infrastructure in the empty bits. And all the famous stuff is spread way apart. Visiting the GBR in the morning and watching the sun set over Uluru is about as likely as seeing the Empire State and Disneyland in the same day. Ain’t gonna happen.

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