Coming back after a three week layoff, I was going to write about Obama and His Obamanots and their blind ignorance about how this country works. Then I was going to write about how it's time Obama and His Obamanots need to be ridiculed instead of feared. They are intellectual children who have learned to whine loudly to get what they want while the adults in the house scramble about trying to appease them even though they know what they are doing is wrong.
But the simple fact of the matter is, I've been gone for three weeks, and nothing has changed, so if I take another day to write about something I think needs to be written about, then so be it.
I would like to take today's column and give a primer of sorts on how to react to someone who has just had a death in the family. I know, I know, this is basic stuff, or at least should be basic stuff. Indulge me.
People who have lost a family member are not sick themselves (typically, don't be annoying by pointing out that they may actually be sick). You can talk to them, it's okay. The chances are very slim you will yourself die after talking to them.
If you do decide to talk to them instead of taking the easy path and ignoring them, please follow this handy 12-step guide I have prepared to help you. If you choose not to follow this list, don't come whining to me when you act like a complete horse's ass the next time someone passes away.
- Avoid describing in gory detail the ordeal of your own family member who suffered terribly through the same disease just a year or so ago. It makes everyone uncomfortable. Avoid telling your own personal stories of death and disease. Call them selfish, but people who have just suffered the loss of a loved one are generally not in the mood to commiserate with you on your own pathetic lifestory.
- Don't just say something like "Sorry to hear about your loss" and then follow it with a 15 minute recounting of all the people in your life who have died or who are about to die. I'm sure if you try hard you can go a few minutes without talking about yourself.
- It's okay to call, or even stop by and say hello. What's the worse thing that could happen? They could break down in tears or yell at you to leave them alone? In fact, just the act of showing your concern is probably enough to lift the spirits of even the deepest mourner -- I'll screen your call if I don't feel like talking.
- At the office, don't say "Hey, sorry about your loss," followed immediately by your rundown of work things that have to get done. You could offer your condolences, leave, and then come back a few minutes later -- it just seems, more, I don't know, caring. But, condolences followed by work questions are far better than just ignoring your associate altogether, so just do the best you can.
- Don't offer to help too much. A simple, "Can I do anything?" is enough. We understand that you want to help, but seriously, it takes a lot of energy to say 'no thanks' eleven times.
- Don't comment on how bad the deceased looks. We get it.
- Don't ask for directions to the church, funeral home or cemetery. You can't possibly be that helpless that you need to ask someone who is burying a loved one for help finding your way around town. And, in the funeral procession, get right up on the ass of the car in front of you. You can convoy through red lights without getting a ticket.
- Don't stay too long past the time you realize you should have left like two hours ago. People who are mourning get tired quicker than people who are enjoying a nice few days off from work.
- Don't complain about the food at the repast. Seriously, you're getting a free lunch because someone has passed away, save the Gordon Ramsey act for another time.
- Don't try to corner any of the surviving family members with a discussion about some cool business venture your friend is trying to launch "if only there was some financing or technical help available to him." As a rule of thumb, people who have just suffered the loss of a loved one are not at the peak of their personal business acumen.
- Don't tell the survivors that "it will be okay," or that "time will heal your sorrow." It'll be okay when we are damned well good and ready for it to be okay, and conversely, if we seem to be doing okay even though you think we should be falling apart, well, deal with it.
- Just be nice and don't try to do or say too much. Probably a good idea to treat the mournful how you would like to be treated under similar circumstances. Be human.