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Death Etiquette

This is long overdue, but I need to get this off my chest.

I have a lot of anger regarding how my co-workers reacted when my sister died a few months ago. No one knew what to say to me when I came back to work ten days after her passing. That's fine. Death is hard and uncomfortable and people don't know what to say. That's what sympathy cards are for. You spend three lousy bucks, pass it around the office for everyone to sign and bam, it's dealt with. It's the least you could do. If you want to be really classy, spring for a bouquet.

When I came back to work my co-workers had not so much as pooled their resources and bought me a fucking card. I've worked there for nine fucking years and no one did so much as get me a fucking card. No one came up to me and acknowledged my loss for several days. Even then, only one person did. These are people I've burned cds for, bought coffees for, some have even been to my house for drinks. The silence was deafening and I have a truckload of resentment for those assholes now.

Listen, if you can't afford a card then at least say these five fucking words:

"I'm sorry for your loss."

That's all you have to say. Memorize these words so that you too can possess a shred of fucking class and know how to react when a friend or co-worker loses someone. Even a phone call or an e-mail is acceptable. You need to acknowledge that person's loss in some way. And it's never too late.


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 23rd, 2005 04:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Having experienced such a horrible loss, I'm much more aware of how to react when and if friends and co-workers have to deal with a loss in the future.
Sep. 23rd, 2005 04:10 pm (UTC)
That is depressing, and this is an excellent post. And I am sorry for your loss. :-(
Sep. 23rd, 2005 04:30 pm (UTC)
Sep. 23rd, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC)
That's pretty fucked up. Your co-workers are assholes. We have cards go around pretty much weekly at the office...for people I don't know...and not just for like close relatives...for like their wive's great aunt. I'm not even joking.
Sep. 23rd, 2005 04:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, all it takes is one person with a heart to intiate the whole process, you know? I used to be that person in my workplace, but not anymore. My resentment is too great.
Sep. 23rd, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC)
hell, in the very least they should have a receptionist to do it...but I'm thinking a lot of times our boss will even start the envelope with a card and money and just have the secretary send the plant and stuff....
Sep. 24th, 2005 06:18 pm (UTC)
Our receptionist initiates these things mainly because she is typically the only one who knows every major event in the employees lives due to her position. Luckily in my four years there most events have been happy ones.
Sep. 24th, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC)
I need an icon with X-Ray Spex lyrics on it...
Sep. 23rd, 2005 04:23 pm (UTC)
that is amazing.
9 years and nothing.

where do you work?

and i am really sorry for your loss.
i read a few of her entries and then yours... just an internet friend living in the same town...

Sep. 23rd, 2005 04:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'd rather not say where I work. I'm looking for a new job. When I get one I'll bitch about my former employer by name.
Sep. 23rd, 2005 04:37 pm (UTC)

totally understandable.
Sep. 23rd, 2005 07:41 pm (UTC)
That's bullshit. I don't blame you for feeling pissed. I mean, personally speaking, I'm one of those people who become so nervous and feel so inadequate when it comes to expressing sorrow and condolence, but Christ--that's what cards are for! People like me! People who want to do something other than opening their mouths and saying something stupid.

There's no excuse for your co-workers. They're pretty damn shitty:(
Sep. 23rd, 2005 09:52 pm (UTC)
That's crappy Dorothea, what a low blow. I understand the resentment and hey it's easier to harbor those feelings towards others right now anyway. But don't hold on to it for too long, it will literally do physical damage to your insides. And your insides are to beautiful to fuck up permanetly.
Sep. 23rd, 2005 11:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Cayte. It's hard because I feel more like it's a blow to my sister's honor, you know? Like it's easier to handle when people are shitty to me, but it's hard to stand by idly when co-workers won't even acknowledge her life/death. I realize that's irrational, but hey, "rational" is overrated.
Sep. 23rd, 2005 11:55 pm (UTC)
That is pretty crappy. I can understand a few people being uncomfortable with the idea of death, it's not nearly as common in our society as it used to be, but I would think somebody would have 'got the ball rolling' on a card.

As a counterexample, to show that there are decent people out there, I offer this anecdote.

A couple of years ago my dog of 10 years passed away. I had to have him put to sleep due to cancer. I held him while they put him down and felt the life slip out of him. I was hurting bad. It's hard to explain to people how much a dog dieing can hurt. Many people think "It's just a dog" but this dog had been my constant companion for 10 years. I ended up writing a sobbing email about how much I missed him and how horrible it was to have him put to sleep and sent it to the ACD (Australian Cattle Dog) mailing list that I belong to. I got many sympathetic emails and a week or so later, totally out of the blue, I got flowers delivered. They were sent by the members of the ACD-L mailing list, a bunch of people I never met sent those flowers.

I was pretty amazed.
Sep. 24th, 2005 03:44 am (UTC)
Goddamn. The same thing happened to me when my sister died, and again with my mother. People need to take a class or something on how to be considerate, etc. because it is fucking ridiculous.

People tended to avoid me when it happened and were visibly uncomfortable around me for a while. It's like, what do they think, if they touch me they are gonna die too?

In any case, I am really sorry for your loss, I know how it feels and if I were there I'd give you a huge hug, some flowers, and a fucking sympathy card...fer chrissakes, and I don't even know you
Sep. 24th, 2005 04:06 am (UTC)
Re: (((((((hugs))))))))))
Hey thanks. You really find out who your friends are when a close one dies. I was really shocked and hurt to discover that no one at my work gave a rat's ass. This is something that will always bug me. Even when I get a different job I'll have some serious walls up.
Sep. 24th, 2005 04:45 am (UTC)
Re: (((((((hugs))))))))))
thanks exactly what people feel. it's a primitive cootie reflex about death. people don't understand how death is the other side of the coin, OR they understand all too well and they are scared shitless. boy, am i glad i sent you my love back then cuz it's better than any ol' card and i DO know you. i'm still sorry for yr loss. it'll never go away, it just gets softer. she still loves you, ya know...
i am morphing my garden's very last bouquet of flowers yr way, lots of giant sunflowers and white yarrow. now there's medicine...
Sep. 24th, 2005 04:52 am (UTC)
I'm so very sorry for the loss of your sister. Those coworkers of yours totally suck. *big hugs*
Sep. 24th, 2005 09:28 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I brought my card and balloon into work for you instead of at home...I hope everyone else felt like shit. I remember when I worked there, if I found out it was someone's birthday, I would MAKE a damn card and have everyone sign it.

Society is selfish as a whole, many people are missing a piece of their hearts. Compassion!? Wha..where, who?!

I also fully understand not knowing what to say, I'm the worst at that...but that's what cards and balloons are for, co-working assholes >:(
Oh, yeah, and flowers...

I love you Doro!
Sep. 24th, 2005 11:38 pm (UTC)
My co-workers lack of reaction make your card, ballon and letter that much sweeter. Thanks for being a true friend.

I love you too, George!
Sep. 25th, 2005 05:11 pm (UTC)
Don't let their behavour dictate your inner peace or lack there of. I am sending something to you via E mail. Love you.
M&D (and that ain't Mad Dog 20/20)
Sep. 28th, 2005 06:33 am (UTC)
what assholes. i wouldn't be able to get over that - ever.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )