I recently read “Florence Adler Swims Forever” by Rachel Beanland. While this is not a review, there are going to be spoilers, so read with caution. Also, What I’m revealing happens within the first two chapters of the book, so there’s that…

Anyway…

The book is set during the summer in Atlantic City. There are two sisters: one is having a difficult pregnancy after having miscarried previously. She is on bedrest in the hospital. Her younger sister is practicing for a swim across the English Channel.

In the first chapter, the swimming sister dies while practicing.

The family makes the decision not to tell the pregnant sister that her sibling has died.

They go as far as to not have any mourning rituals for the swimmer- no large funeral, no sitting Shiva (the traditional Jewish mourning ritual)

The family tells the hospital staff to keep it quiet, and make sure the pregnant sister gets a private room with no access to newspapers and radio, just in case…

So…

The family made the decision that telling the pregnant sister would be detrimental to her health.

They lie for three months.

Is there such a thing as lying for the greater good?

Given this scenario, what would you do?

Would you lie to someone if you thought they couldn’t physically or mentally handle the truth?

If you were Mother of the girls, would you be worried about your living daughter and worry that you would lose her too?

Can lying be better than telling the truth?

How far do you go to protect your child?

Discuss…

73 thoughts on “No Truths and a Lie

  1. Absolutely! But I wouldn’t call it lying as much as evading the truth. I do it all the time. I control how much I think others should know based on what they are going through and what I think they can handle. It’s merciful. The truth usually does come out. At that time I answer questions honestly and explain why they weren’t told earlier. Some may think that it is too controlling but why toss a concrete block to someone who is drowning?

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  2. I have and I would, again. DId you know that everyone lies? They’ve done studies. Not only that, they found that people lie several times a day. I don’t remember the average. Some are large and some are small. The point is, in general, we should reconsider the judgment we place on people lying and realize that lying is just one more tool at our disposal. Mona

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    1. I totally agree with the we all lie thing. It’s sort of like the judgement thing. I think it’s part of self preservation. But it’s a line between a good lie and a bad one, if you know what I mean…on another note, I find that I can’t always like/comment on your posts, but know I’m reading

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  3. I would not lie about this. This was not right. As a RN, more times than you would think, I was asked to lie to my patients by their family. Many different reasons. I would say 9 out of 10 times the patient somehow would find out the information. The response was always the same, “What else are you all lying to me about.”

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    1. The book was average as far as a book is concerned. But I thought the greater picture it presented was worthy. I don’t know what I would do given the situation

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I do better with facts than lies, even white lies. But every person is different. So is their situation. It would depend on the person (age, health, mental health, circumstances) and also how many others know, and how likely it is that the person being lied to would find out accidentally themselves.

    I tell mine, I want to know no matter what. I don’t know if they would respect that. I hope so. How I would act would depend on the above mentioned circumstances.

    Also with children, different rules apply than with adults.

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  5. Ho boy.. my daughter’s cat died as she was nearing the end of med school and applying for residencies..SUPER stressful time. We chose not to tell her and she was SOO incredibly pissed off when she found out we had held that back. She thought we had been dishonest with her and our explanation that we were trying to protect her didn’t fly. I thought we were doing the right thing..but I guess it wasn’t?

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    1. It’s also tough when parents disagree. My daughters cat got sick the first week my daughter was at college. My husband and I argued over whether or not we should tell her…I wanted to, my husband didn’t. We compromised with if the cat didn’t get better after two days we would tell her. We did tell her and cat got better…but it was tough

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    2. Cindy, the young are notorious for not being able to see why parents do what they do. If she were in your shoes (if she were a parent), she might have done the same thing. However, at the moment, she doesn’t know what that’s really like. When she has children, she might find that she’s not sure what to do either. She might even come to understand that piling on too much during an exceedingly stressful time isn’t the way to go. Everyone has limitations when it comes to how much stress one can take. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. I think you did the right thing. People get mad. They don’t like something, sure…but if they love you, they forgive and they get over it. Mona

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  6. Tough one. And it’s a big lie. But I suppose each person would handle things differently and there’s a lot to consider. Some people can’t take bad news. Is the pregnant sister one of those? How close were the two sisters?And wow, three months in the hospital!

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  7. I understand the thought behind it and the sense of well meaning, but in making a decision about another person’s well being, an adult no less, steps over all kinds of lines. Unless there was some sort of explicit permission given for someone else to make those kinds of decisions for a person for whatever reason, no one really has that right to make those kinds of decisions. If it was about holding personal information back, say not telling someone you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, that is making a decision for your on health and well being. But holding back information that isn’t just yours? I understand the whys, but I’m not sure I really agree with them. The flipside to that is sharing that information and having something go wrong, like the loss of the baby or even the mother, the kinds of guilt or anger that could come out of that could be horrific. I’m not entirely certain you have a solid “right way” in this.

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  8. Okay, I’m assuming pregnant sister knew about swimming sister’s practices and that they were reasonably close. Did pregnant sister never ask about swimming sister for the whole three months? Like, why isn’t she coming to visit? I think I would have had to tell. Pregnant sister was in the hospital so presumably there were people there who could help if something went wrong with the pregnancy. On the other hand, I have a sister and our relationship is such that if I never heard about/from her again it really wouldn’t bother me. Another good one, LA.

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  9. Lying about a death is a very big lie! Even if the lying was done with the best of intentions, it would have the potential to erode trust over time.
    My parents used to tell my sister and I small lies I am sure in their minds they rationalized as being for the greater good.
    This isn’t a small lie–but one time they told my sister and aunt had died in order to get her away from a boy she was having a secret meeting with. I am sure in their minds it was for the ” greater good”.
    I agree with others—we all lie in some way.

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    1. We definitely all lie… in this case, my thought is, is it putting your daughters health above all else, and accepting the consequences that your daughter may hate you forever, but they’re alive…I don’t know

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  10. I believe in the truth. If I sense someone is evading an issue by not divulging, I am angry. I would want my daughters to be aware of their odds in every situation which will make them strong. Hiding the truth brings other problems.

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      1. People not telling the truth to you brings on a few problems. I would rather know what they are hiding. With some, you will never know and it might be part of your family. Sadly, life is short. I wish my brothers would open up to me but for some reason I don’t know what they won’t tell me about some things. Oh, well, such is the life.

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  11. I think there may be times when lying about something serves a greater purpose but in this case three months is a long time and I don’t know how reasonable it is to suggest the two sisters wouldn’t see each other or talk for that period of time. Who’s to say that after three months the pregnant sister wouldn’t experience even more grief that adversely affects the baby. I think you tell the sister what happened and explain and hope that she does what’s best for her unborn child, knowing there is nothing she can do for her sister.

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    1. Average. It goes off in too many directions and misses the point of all the tangents. In the attempt at being literary fiction, it ends up trivializing itself. But it presented me with this, so I can’t complain

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m a tactless person married to truth-telling (yes, like everyone else, I tell little social fibs). Withholding the death of a sibling like that strikes me as just wrong.

    When a very close friend of mine died last December, her family kept it hushed. No obit, no ceremony, no phone calls. I found out a couple weeks later by chance, the day I got out of the hospital from my knee replacement. I was devastated not to know before then. And her family would not return my phone calls, either. I thought it was cruel. I still wonder how many of her friends and even extended family still know nothing about her death.

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      1. I know it’s not quite the same as your example, but it’s still a withholding of information from people who are rightly concerned about someone. Not a life/death situation (one would think), but maybe the shock of something like that could have consequences.

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      2. I was thinking about this last night. I can’t fathom telling people that someone has died, unless the family is somehow embarrassed by the death. But even then….it’s just odd…

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      3. Back to that scenario in the book…It wasn’t just that they didn’t tell their daughter about her sister, they would have had to take away her phone (like they did with the TV) and done a lot of manipulating of other people to keep them quiet. It’s not just a lie. It’s a whole series of wrongs.

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  13. This is an intriguing dilemma? I think I would tell the truth as difficult as that might be because I wouldn’t want to diminish trust. Seems like an element of relationships not easily repaired? So easy to erode trust and so hard to earn it back. A few thoughts, C

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      1. I agree, it’s a hard decision. The book I am writing touches a lot on betrayal of all kinds and I just see it as that, how betrayed I would feel if that kind of information was kept from me. Honestly I am glad not to be in that position right now.

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  14. I believe you should always tell the truth, but this book and post bring up that there are really no absolutes. Never say never. Anyone that says they never lie probably just did. In this story, I understand how the parents came to that decision, and I don’t know that anyone could say that there is a right or wrong answer to this dilemma. Personally, I would want to be told. This is fortunately fiction; I don’t think a secret like that could realistically be kept for that long.

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  15. I understand the concern over not wanting to tell a person having complications with pregnancy such bad news, but I do tend to think that it’s almost always best to tell the truth. In this situation, I’m honestly not sure what is the best answer.

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  16. Not sure what I’d do in that situation but I do think there’s such a thing as lying for the greater good. I’d only recommend it in pretty extreme circumstances though – maybe this scenario is one of them?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My mother never lied to us about daddy’s illness, not once during the 6 years of hospitals and surgeries and petit mal seizures. The truth was ugly and hard, yet it was better than not knowing. I don’t believe in hiding the truth in situations like that. I’d tell the sister, especially since she is already in the right setting to make sure she and the baby get through it alive.

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