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Please Be Gentle

People are totally different in how one person chooses to tell another person about serious matters or deaths as well as how people respond to very difficult and sad messages.  In delivering the news of a tragedy, some are very direct and blunt.  Others try to soften the blow by seeking to have some light conversation before telling the bad news.  Still others, cannot bring themselves to state clearly the news of a tragic death, so they will keep “circling” the heart of the message by telling of the “accident”, the first responders, the number of police/fire/medical EMT’s that were present, the crowd, the place, and finally will get around to telling a loved one that their loved one was seriously injured or has died.

Granted, every situation is different, and every person is different.  Across the years, I have had to tell people abut tragic accidents or deaths several times.  It was never an easy assignment.  No matter how the “bearer of the news” goes about telling it, the shock, grief, and pain of the “hearer” is still very hard to see and hear.

Sometimes in plays or movies, the characters will deal with tragedy in a comic manner to give the crowd the chance to laugh at what would otherwise make the drama a tragedy.  By setting the scene as serious but then having the characters deal with a sudden sorrow in a light-hearted way the audience will respond with laughter rather than with tears.  Consider this as an example of dealing with someone’s feelings in a comical, but compassionate manner.

Joe had a cat he loved very much. When he went west to California on a business trip, he left the cat with his brother Al and his mother. When Joe arrived in Los Angeles, he called his brother and asked him how the cat was doing. Al replied bluntly, “I’m really sorry, Joe, but your cat is dead.”

Brokenhearted, Joe said, “How could you be so cruel? You know how I loved that cat. You could have said, ‘Your cat is up on the roof and we can’t get her down!’ Then the next time I called you could have told me, “Your cat is off the roof, but it has broken a small bone in its leg and is in the hospital.'”

“Then a few days later, when I was better prepared, you could have called and said, “Your cat has passed away in her sleep. She felt no pain.'”

“You’re right,” replied Al meekly. “I’m really sorry about how it was handled. Please forgive me.”

A couple of weeks later Joe once again called his brother from California. After chatting for a while, he asked, “Say, Al, how’s Mother?”

“Oh, Mother?” responded Al, “O.K., I guess, but she’s up on the roof and we can’t get her down…”   (Copied).