Thursday, April 25, 2013

“I’m Sorry.”

People, we must decide a better alternative to “I’m sorry” as the response to hearing that someone’s someone has died. I recognize that “my condolences” makes you sound like a count who is visiting the Americas as part of some sort of world tour and who is likely near death himself, and I unfortunately have nothing better to suggest, but I can only report that “I’m so sorry” is conversational homicide. Upon being told this, there’s simply nothing I can think to say or do. “Thanks?” can’t cut it. And “No worries, you didn’t do it on purpose,” never gets the response I think it will, even though I think it hits on the fact that “I’m sorry” in just about every other conversation is an admission of guilt and not a simple expression of “I have sorrow.” Yes, I do understand that “I’m sorry” is basically the death empathy version of “namaste” — “I recognize in you the ache caused by the recognition of mortality, for I have it too” — but I just can’t figure out what to say in return. “Bingo”? Is the answer “bingo”? Is there a hand signal I can be giving? (Folds hands, bows solemnly.)

... Just tell me how I should be doing this.

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