In social gatherings, I am often asked how often I visit my parents. Matter of fact-ly, I answer that they both passed several years back. I am then asked the reason for their premature passing, to which I also answer matter of fact-ly, with the appropriate response.
Most times the conversation ends with ‘Sorry for your loss’. I respond by saying ‘Thank you. I am fine now”. End of conversation, and we move on to other things.
I had invited some folks over (new to our neighborhood) and some of us were hanging out in the kitchen, when the aforementioned conversation started to take place. I had barely responded to how my parents had passed, when she cut me off and started to talk about the health problems in her family. She went into detail about how they made multiple trips to the hospital and the various medications her peeps were on and so on. I nodded and expressed my sympathy.
A close family friend recently lost her husband. She had been very close to my family and had visited us when my parents were still around. I called her to express my condolences. Usually people talk about the pain and I patiently listen. She was talking about how the past several months had been difficult – more difficult than what my parents went through during their last years. She said that my parent’s health issues were nothing compared to her family’s. Her son who is the same age as me went through emotional trauma far greater than me, she said.
It was a James Bond moment for me – I was shaken and stirred by both incidents. ( I know 🙂
I would have liked it if they had not compared their problems to mine. I would have liked it if they had paused and found a different time to share their thoughts on the subject of pain and passing. I would have liked it if people had responded with compassion instead of a sense of ‘ mine is bigger than yours’.