For some reason, we love sad stories. Maybe it’s because they remind us of how fortunate we are; maybe it’s because we’re secretly psychopaths.
To that end, we scoured a few Reddit threads to find some of the saddest stories imaginable, then edited them slightly for grammar and readability. When you’re finished reading this, you’ll probably want to have a good cry—just remember, for the most part, things usually turn out okay. Usually.
1. How do you reward a teacher for decades of service?
Simple: You do absolutely nothing.
“[It was] my math teacher’s last class before retirement,” Reddit user phsvx wrote. “Nobody showed up, except me and some friends. We literally did nothing for one hour straight. The bell rings; he let out the saddest ‘Goodbye’ I had ever heard in my life. I almost cried for real.”
Unfortunately for humanity, that’s not the only savagely depressing story about a teacher. The good news: This next one has a happier ending.
“[My teacher’s] sad comment during one of our school’s fundraisers, in which you can pay to send teachers a card or candy bar,” user girfoxgirl wrote. “A friend of mine came to our friend group and told us that she overheard our biology teacher—an older kindly man, but he easily puts students to sleep—mumble about how he doesn’t expect to get anything, like usual, during an announcement about it.”
“He truly wasn’t one of the popular teachers, even at such a tiny school,” she continued. “We pooled money to shower the guy with candy and anonymous cards. He probably got more than any other teacher.”
2. For parents, there’s nothing as heartbreaking as seeing your kid go out into the real world.
That’s mainly because the real world is, well, horrible. Reddit user blackjesushiphop has a daughter who was being bullied on her school bus.
“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,” he explained. “She told me about it but asked me to keep it a secret from Mom. I agreed.”
“She came home and told 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 had worked so hard to take care of it and help it grow…just like she had done with you.”
Given that this is a collection of sad stories, you probably know where this is going. Grab those tissues.
“Mother’s Day rolls around, and even I’m 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 broken 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 gift she was going to give her mom to the other kids on her way home. 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.”
“It killed me to write that, remembering how upset I was. 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 [awful] people can be for the first time is crushing.”
We did some quick research and found KidsGardening.org, and organization that helps kids learn and make connections through gardening. If you’re as touched by this story as we are, here’s the link to the organization’s donation page.
3. It’s not exactly easy to raise a child.
That’s especially true if you don’t share your kid’s interests.
“I was at a convention and I saw a father and his son in line to play Mario Kart 8,” Reddit user ulfred500 wrote. “They had to wait for a while, so the son got distracted and started playing a different demo off to the side, and then it was their turn.”
“The dad tried to get his son to play Mario Kart with stuff like, ‘Please, we shouldn’t make these people wait.’ The son was playing Star Fox Zero, which no one else was playing, so he could easily get right back on.
“But instead, he yelled back, saying that he was busy. The dad tried playing Mario Kart by himself, but was very disheartened and confused, even with the Nintendo helper with him. He clearly didn’t care at all about anything at that convention and just wanted to spend time with his son.”
We’re going to go call our father real quick.
4. If you can’t stand sad stories about animals, you might want to skip this one.
User Ed98208 prefaces this story by saying that it’s not the saddest thing they’ve ever seen—just the most recent deeply depressing moment.
“I was driving, and a female mallard duck was standing in the road, refusing to move,” they wrote. “Cars were honking and having to drive around her, but she stayed. I parked and walked over to get her out of the road, and saw that she was standing near a storm drain grate.”
“I assume she was crossing the road with her ducklings and they all fell in. I looked into it, thinking they might be just inside, but the water was fast-moving like a river. It just made me so sad to think that she was a mother one minute, and then the next, she wasn’t, and she couldn’t understand why.”
“She just stayed where she last saw her babies and waited for them. I chased her from the road into the park but when I drove off I could still see her lurking nearby.”
Gosh. Why are we doing this?
5. Remember, parents: Kids need time to be kids.
“I have a student who is clearly on the autism spectrum,” wrote Redditor AdvertentExactness. “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 or six classes go, and he gives the same responses of not being able to do it, or ‘I’m not creative enough.'”
“I was trying to redirect his thinking by asking him if there was anything he likes to do (so he can write about it). This was 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. They think that he just needs to study more, and he’ll be fine.”
“So I ask 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 p.m.'”
“I then ask, ‘What about this summer? I’m sure you’ll have time to play video games or go outside.'”
“He says ‘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 super bummed for him.”
6. For some people, lottery tickets aren’t exactly lucky.
“I was hanging out with a friend of mine while he was working at a gas station store,” wrote ThisAccontIsForCats. “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.”
Other former gas station employees chimed in to confirm that, yes, state lottery programs can be pretty horrifying.
“This type of thing happens four times a shift,” wrote Abbyabsinthe. “Once they run out of winners, they pay in crumpled dollar bills, then quarters, and then nickels and dimes for a $1 scratcher.”
“The worst though is this old man with Parkinson’s that used to sit at the gambling machines for up to eight hours until he ran out of money,” she continued. “His wife would call him several times to come home.
“A few times, he ran out of their social security check, and would tearfully say that his wife was going to kill him. Sometimes, if I saw his car pulling up, I’d rush to put ‘Out of Order’ signs on the machines.”
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. Possibly—hey, if you’re looking for outright positivity, you came to the wrong article.
“Thankfully, I haven’t seen him gambling in several months now, so I hope he’s broke the habit,” she wrote. “He only comes in for gas now.”
7. Nothing feels worse than being alone in your moment of need.
“I saw a coworker have a heart attack,” Reddit user ElizebethSparkman wrote. “He was holding his arm and gasping for air.”
“I sat him down and coached him to breathe while someone else called 911. He was hyperventilating and crying. He told me he was scared—I barely knew him.”
“Someone asked him if there was anyone we should call, he said, ‘No.’ This man—absolutely scared of dying—had no one to call, at a time he was knocking on death’s door. I was so sad for him.”
“The ambulance came and he was okay. But that one moment where he was so alone and scared was really, really sad.”
8. If you haven’t cried yet, this story might get you there.
Reddit user cornfedpig shared this story; he’s a stay-at-home dad, and he was dropping his son off at kindergarten when something unexpected happened.
“One of the other moms there has four kids, and her second one is in my son’s class,” he wrote. “As we were about to leave, I saw the mom with her baby strapped to her. 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.”
If you’re a parent, you know the exact look he’s referencing. It’s sort of like you’re shrugging through a smile.
“So the mom says 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 understood her frustration. I bent down to be eye level with the kid, and I said, ‘Yeah, for sure. I’ve got some dryer vents, and I could 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 opens his arm like he wants a hug, so whatever, I give him a hug.”
“Then he clings to me for like five minutes. I’ve said maybe five words to this kid in my life, and he’s holding on to me like he’s afraid of falling down. His mom says, ‘I think he misses his dad.’ I’m like, ‘Aww, is he away?’ And she says, ‘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 don’t hug him enough. That was sad as hell.”
9. If you haven’t had enough sad stories about kids, we’ve got you covered.
Go ahead and cue up Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” while you’re reading this. We’ll wait.
“This father and his son were sitting next to us at a restaurant,” wrote Redditor bupdup. “The son was like 12 or 13, a very happy looking 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. 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 at the dessert. He asked his dad if he wanted any, because he couldn’t finish it and he was embarrassed.”
“The dad says—and 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 overweight; he 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.”
The moment affected bupdup, who went to the bathroom and cried for a few minutes. When he returned, the father and son were gone.
10. Just to balance things out, here’s a sad story about an elderly person.
Reddit user satanshonda worked at a nursing facility. One day, a patient in the early stages of dementia was committed to the facility by their significantly younger spouse for a respite stay (a maximum of 30 days).
“At the end of the 30 days, it was the day before our Mother’s Day brunch,” satanshonda wrote. “Lovely event, plenty of food and family visitors. My patient was glowing with happiness to see their spouse, picked out their outfit and packed their belongings.”
“The staff had grown fond of this patient, so we were sad to see them go, but glad they would be back home. The day of the brunch came. Our patient is dressed to the nines and beaming with excitement.”
“The lunch starts winding down, but still no family. The patient, not to be discouraged, gets a plate and saves them some. Hours pass. The live music is packing up, and the staff is putting the food away. Still no family.”
“My patient is staring at their untouched plate of food, and I go to check in with them. They’re trying so hard not to cry. When I asked if they were okay, they said, ‘I don’t understand. She said she would come. Why didn’t she come?'”
Well, that about does it. We’ll see you next time.