I’ve tried to drop hints. I promise, I’m the last person who wants to repeat my story, but sometimes people can’t help it. They have NO idea where the conversation is headed so they keep asking questions. It’s innocent curiosity, getting to know someone….until finally you drop some seriously sad knowledge on a table of unassuming people.
This was especially hard to avoid when my husband and I got engaged. In the role of blushing bride to be I was meeting all sorts of new folks, getting introduced to family friends and relatives, going to engagement parties, and it was a blast, but it had a downside. As a bride you’re asked about your mom and dad more regularly because marriage is about two families coming together, so when you meet new people they’re curious about where you come from, what your family is like, etc. It always starts as a nice introductory conversation….asking the basics…
Stranger: What do you do?
Me: I’m a buyer
Stranger: Where are you from?
We’re still good….moving right along…
Stranger: Oh I love Miami, great weather!
Me: Yep, the beach is beautiful, really warm water
It starts getting hairy with the next logical question…
Stranger: Do your parents still live there?
OK, I can still save them…
Me: Yes most of my family (note the usage of the term family) still lives in Miami, I have a sister in Mexico and a niece in LA
Stranger: They must be so excited about the wedding!
Phew, I think I’m gonna get us through this
Me: Yes, my family can’t wait!
Stranger: Has your mom been helping you organze it?
EEK…nothing I can do at this point…..
LAUNCH FIRST GRENADE
Me: Actually, my mom passed away
KABOOOOOM….the person is devastated, the mood of the dinner has officially shifted gears…..
Stranger: Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that, how’s your father doing?
Whoopsie, launch that second, more devastating GRENADE……
Me: My Dad also passed away
KABOOOOM….completely take over the mood of the party, start to feel the sting of tears in my eyes ….
Stranger: Oh my goodness, that’s so sad, how did it happen?
At this point I can go lots of ways. I can give them the extended version, I can let the tear ducts open wide, or I can save them the grief and keep it nice and clean. I go for the latter…
Me: They both passed from illnesses
Word to the wise: This is where it needs to stop. Though I can’t speak for all those who have lost a loved one, in my opinion if in a social setting, STOP ASKING QUESTIONS. I realize you care about me, being that I’m young with no parents, I immediately take on the look of a sad orphan. I totally appreciate the sympathy, but it’s not fun to go over the details of my situation, especially when I live it everyday.
You’re hearing this story for the first time so you’re curious, and you mean the best but really, not the time or place. I’m happy (that’s an over statement, lets say, I’m better) discussing it in a more intimate setting, perhaps a quiet night at home, just the two of us drinking some tea (not a huge fan of tea but it sounds cozy), but not in a festive, social setting. It’s just not fun rehashing these emotions for a brand new group of people. It’s also not fun to be the party pooper when everyone is out to celebrate a happy occasion.
I think that if you’re in a social setting and you happen to ask someone about a family member/friend that has passed away, it’s probably best to express your condolences and unless they offer up the information on their own, just leave it at that and think of a quick change of subject. A few good choices – discussing current weather, compliment about a piece someone is wearing, drawing attention to the silverware, etc.
Read more from Melissa Silvetti at www.alifeafter.wordpress.com