Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Insensitivity Training

Something occurred to me today. Something hard, something hurtful...something painful.

Last week I lost someone very close to me, a family member dear to my heart. 

But the point of this blog post isn't about grief or the support network people have around them that they rely on in times of need - sometimes finding solace in surprising places. The point isn't about the kinds words that make you feel better.

The point of this post is the opposite of condolences, in fact the opposite of sensitivity completely. The point of this post is insensitivity and the heartbreaking places it comes from.

In life we meet all sorts of people. White, black, Asian, Mexican, deaf, illiterate, special needs, tall, short, man, woman, robot. We meet all sorts of people and, well, depending on your upbringing I suppose, you're taught how to talk to different people and the reactions, or lack thereof more to the point, you're supposed to have when you meet them. There are so many politically correct terms for absolutely everyone these days. Janitors are 'custodians' or 'caretakers'. Blind people are 'visually challenged', deaf are 'hearing impaired'. We can't even say fireman any more, it has be gender neutral , so now called 'fire fighters'. 

I'm not trying to say we shouldn't be correct. My point is this - we are so careful these days of what we say to people in case we offend them. And the most shocking of all - to complete strangers. We watch our tongue more with people we've never shared more than a single conversation with in our entire lives than the people who have actually been around for large portions of our existence.

When did it become okay to be polite and careful with strangers...and not with the people we call family?

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I lost someone last week. Today I received a text message from the matriarch of the other side of the family asking a very insensitive question relating to the deceased. No support. No condolence. no offer to help. Just an insensitive question. 

So, I'll ask again. When did it become okay to become considerate with strangers, and not with family? 


Nic 19 November 2010 at 07:03  

Oh, Pamela... I know where you are coming from. Although I don't know your exact circumstances, I do understand the disbelief and deep hurt that other's insensitivities can cause, especially while you are grieving.

First of all, I am sorry for what you are going through--the loss of someone you love, as well as the situation with this insensitive soul. Very sorry.

I was close to my fraternal grandmother. Before she even passed away, extended family members--like piranha--came to devour their prey. My aunt instructed me to put a post-it note on anything in the house that I wanted and she would distribute it after my grandmother's death. (Like she had claim on a single thing? She was a nobody that my grandmother didn't even like.) I was horrified! I told her I didn't want anything in that house except Mamaw, who was at that very minute, in her bed, fighting for her last breaths.

I won't write what I WANTED to say to her. She married into the family and lied, cheated, stole and who knows what else everytime she came to visit.

How sad is it, when a person's life is of less value than greedy cravings.

Okay, I guess I ranted there for a bit; sorry. Your post really struck a nerve in me.

Please know I am praying for you--for you to be comforted and cared for by the sensitive people in your life.

Big hugs, and condolences,

J. M. Powers 19 November 2010 at 18:01  

I can relate to your post, Pamela. Those closest have the power to bring comfort or sadly, be so callous that they wound us.
Sending you hugs and a bit of laughter when you are feeling better. I lost my mom and grandmother and know what you are going through. I wish you lots of comfort and sympathy, sweet friend.

teeny104 20 November 2010 at 11:50  

Thanks for your support guys, it really means a lot to me. I wish there was a bigger thank you I could give. P x

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