I’m terrible at consoling people. Especially people I’m close to or people I actually care for. I’m not quite sure why or how I was brought up so desensitized and awkward in these situations, but I end up tripping on my own words and sometimes, literally, on my own two feet.
Today, I found out that my coworker’s cat passed away. It’s a sensitive topic, since I know she was uber-close to her kitty and it definitely was one of her oldest friends. I offered up the idea that it would be a good gesture to get her a card to pay our condolences.
After much pondering, this is what I wrote:
“My thoughts and condolences are totally yours. Do not hesitate to let me know if you need anything during this tough time.” (Signed with my token “heart” signature)
What more do you say to someone whose lost a pet? I probably don’t know because I’ve never had a real pet. I emphasize “real” because I’ve had fish. But how emotionally attached can you be to a fish? It’s not like anyone actually knows their fish’s personality. No one says, “Oh yeah, my fish is really sassy. She hates it when I’m away for long periods of time” or “Yeah, my fish Nancy doesn’t really like males. Not sure why.” Ugh.
I’m even worse with people who lose someone they love (from either a break up or them passing away). I’m lucky enough to not have experienced such a feeling (well, a break up, yes. But that’s a whole other fucked-up story). I’ve been on the other end, though.
He or she sits there
not just tears, but cacophonic words
that completely make sense in the universal language of melancholic unfairness
and while blowing their nose for the billionth time
in the same tattered, peach-colored Kleenex
they try to dry his or her eyes, and touch up
smeared makeup, an undone tie, tousled strands
but he or she looks at you and you know the only words worth uttering are things
he or she wants to hear.
You’re the only audible life jacket in path at that single moment.
(Unfortunately for them, I end up laughing when I’m really uncomfortable.)
Jesus Christ, I need better people skills.