Friday, April 18, 2008

I am a jerk

I am the jerk that we all hate. The insensitive person, the one who gets things wrong or the mourner, despite the best of intentions.

Let me back up. Ok, after the last post, a small group of us went in together on the flowers. Great, perfect. I sent a sympathy card with a heartfelt long message in it.

Coincidentally, someone else recently linked to another's blog post of losing a parent.

So, this morning I sent that link, via e-mail, to my friend with just short note saying I was thinking of her, saw this blog post, made me think of her, and hoped she did'nt mind me sending it.

This afternoon, I got this back:

Thank you for your thoughtfulness in checking in. The blog was very
appropriate, and a lot of things already hit home as I was reading it.
Thank you also for the flowers sent to the funeral home- these were much

I arrived home yesterday and was just checking email. There were several
emails sent to us (or copied to us) that asked/discussed "who wants to
go in on something", etc. and I feel compelled to say that reading those
was very upsetting. I know of course there was no malintent behind it or
offense intended but nevertheless for some reason it is upsetting to
read "about" yourself at a time like this.

Aaaaahhhhhhh. Panic. I wrote back right away, and said how sorry I was that had happened, how I couldn't believe it, how terrible whoever copied her was, how the e-mails got a little out of control (they did) and started to bother me, frankly (they did - a few on the smug side saying they were doing their own thing given they were so close to this friend).

And then I investigated my deleted items folder. Hmmm. Not one of the e-mails I saw included her e-mail address. Were there others I was not on? (righteous indignation at my friends closing me out of the loop). Then I checked my sent mail.

In the e-mail my friend's husband sent telling us of the news, he cc'ed a string of people. I hit reply to all, went through the cc's, and deleted anyone not a college friend.

I typed to my friends: Hello college friends, anyone want to go in together on flowers or a group donation?

Because I am an idiot, because the friends were in the cc box, I did not notice who was in the To box. My friend.

The very first person to respond thankfully deleted the friend. She was never cc'ed again, as far as I could tell. I'm the offending, insensitive, terrible friend. ME. It's ME.

Probably compounding the bad situation, I again replied to my friend's e-mail and said, oh shit, it was me, I am so sorry. I also typed I wanted to call but I was on a conference call.

Conference call over.

On the one hand, it was one (not several) innocuous e-mail. On the other hand, my friend is grieving and hurt. I've certainly learned that it is very easy to offend a grieving person. I thought having experienced grief I'd get it right with this friend. Dammit.

I've seen this discussed a lot. You share your grief over infertility or loss and find out someone experienced a loss years and years ago, and can't deal with yours because theirs still hurts. Or can deal with yours because they know what it's like, sort of. My friend doesn't know the hurts I've experienced this past year plus. She only knows she is hurt right now.

I'm trying to decide if I call her, or just back off. I think I have to call.

This is hard.

What would you do?


Antigone said...

Wow I guess I must really be a jerk because I think she overreacted. She knows it wasn't intended to cause harm and was likely accidental. But she still complains.

She got flowers. She had friends talking about her and trying to take care of her. That's a whole hell of a lot more than many of us get when we lose our child. Yeah I'm bitter.

I know most women seem to have become more sensitive to the needs and hurts of others but I've gone to the other end. In my mindscape, the bar has been raised for sympathy.

P.S. My uterus is vacant. I was just a few days late. We're TTC this cycle though. OV in nine more days.

niobe said...

I'm completely confused as to what exactly offended her. But apparently I'm pretty insensitive.

Louise said...

I'll play the devil's advocate here:

I think on the one hand, it depends on what was said in the email(s) that she read. If it was just the one with "does anyone want to go in on flowers" then um... well, maybe she's offended that everyone didn't individually purchase flowers, but that would be silly. (although, having lost someone recently - realizing that people are thinking about money when all you're thinking about is the loss of your loved one *can* be hurtful)

During a time like this, everything is heightened. Even the smallest weird thing can be taken too seriously, because of all the emotions that are tearing through you. I think that you understand this, WB.

What would I do? I'd wait a while, until things settled with her - she probably has a lot going on right now - and then I'd call, not specifically to apologize for this, but just to say hello and let her know I was thinking of her. If the email came up in conversation, I'd apologize, again, say that although it wasn't meant maliciously I understand how reading that kind of thing can be a shock, and let it go at that. If it didn't come up in conversation, I wouldn't bring it up. In the grand scheme of things, right now it might seem like a huge gaffe, but as others have said, in the long run, it's not that big a deal.

(lots of words, eh?)

CLC said...

I think I would wait a little while, but I would probably call her. I think you are right and it's really easy to offend a grieving person. With time, she may think she overreacted. It's hard to know, but a real live conversation would be nice. It was an honest mistake, I think a reasonable person would realize that in time.

Tash said...

Honestly if this happened to me I wouldn't have told you. I belong to a bulletin board that got together and sent me a lot of stuff (flowers, food, etc.), and I can't imagine if someone had accidentally emailed me I would've been upset. A bit out of body perhaps, but not upset. I guess unless someone said "why?" or "do I have to?" or "geez, that much?" or something stupid.

I think I'd probably fess up (it's in her mailbox from you, probably, if you sent reply and she was in the "to" box) quickly, casually, telling her it was obviously with the best of intentions and you're sorry she was hurt further by the incident and hope she can forgive you. (And if she can't, really, I think something's up there.)