I remember scoffing--scoffing with extreme prejudice--at the concept of Sensitivity Training.
But I might need it.
Never mind even that I believe with absolute, unshakable faith in a glorious resurrection. And forget about my nasty habit of enjoying life enough to feel like kissing it goodbye wouldn't be a soul shattering tragedy. I've just always been OK with Death. Really OK.
Which is really not OK in the eyes of people who want to make a big deal about it for whatever reason. (The reason is usually melodrama, hystrionics, or ignorance--but pointing that out will get you slapped with the old "Judgemental Ass" label. For whatever reason.) So I keep my opinion mostly to myself. People don't want to hear it. Never mind that I believe in meeting people where they are.
Recently, when a co-worker's distant relation passed on, even as I refused to sink to the maudlin level of the proletariat and spout the usual meaningless condolences, I did refrain from spouting anything beyond an earnest: "He was lucky to have you in his life." (I highly recomend this approach. It obviates acrimony and contention by changing the subject away from Death. As an added bonus, I really meant it.) And as I turned to walk away and savor the sweetness of dodging a bullet, she murmured, "It was just so sudden."
Obviously, she was looking to tangle. She needed the drama, I guess. And when someone throws down the gauntlet like that, you cannot with impunity ignore it. Your honor is at stake.
"Hold on a minute," I said. "What do you mean, 'it was just so sudden?'"
"I mean, it was unexpected."
"I'm sorry, but I couldn't have heard you correctly. Did you just say that the only absolute eventuality since the dawn of time was unexpected?"
"Did you miss the fact that 100% of the people who have been born on this earth have died, most of them at random junctures or in coincidental circumstances?"
"It wasn't that--"
"How DARE YOU? How dare you claim the responsibilities and trappings of adulthood and slather them all over with the sickly sweet frosting of infantile expectations! How dare you come in here asking to exchange the basest emotional childishness for sympathy! I mean COME ON!"
Naturally, she was speechless. "Probably can't find the words to thank me," I was thinking. I had just offered her exactly the hystrionics she had been seeking. Or if not, at least I had given her some simple facts that should have, in my mind, taken the edge off her so-called loss.
My lawyers have instructed me not to describe in any way what happened next. But suffice it to say, I was wrong.