I won’t ask you to mourn for what I mourn for. It’s none of your business. My family is my family. If I want to relate the story years later, as part of a tale, I will. Whether it’s people, cats, or a damn bird, it’s my family. It’s private pain. Don’t try to understand it, ask about it, or tell me to “get over it” or “put it into perspective.” You don’t have any business telling me who or what or how much to love or grieve, or how long, any more than you have the right whom to tell me to love sexually or sleep with, regardless of age or gender (well, that explains that).
In return, don’t ask me to join in public orgies of grief for anyone or anything I didn’t know.
If your kid went to Iraq and got killed, don’t ask me to come mourn somebody I never knew. I don’t care about him or her, and pretending I do to be part of a patriarchal football mourning wave would be rather obscene.
If an acquaintance is dying of cancer, leave his or her family to their business. Don’t inundate me with concern-parties in my email. For Gods’ sake, leave them a little dignity! At least send the lists BCC, so I don’t get hit with everybody else’s Hallmark Moments. If you need funding to help them out, let me know, and I’ll assist as much as I can. I don’t even need a thank you — it would be just basic human decency, and I would expect to be asked.
If you get your buildings blown up in a city I’ve only been in a couple of times, and nobody I knew died there, at the same time that I’m dealing with my own losses, don’t expect me to join you bawling in the street. That I was grief-medicated on tequila the day before and snarling in hope, “Tomorrow is going to be a really bad day — really, really bad!” is just a coincidence.
If your princess gets bashed in a wreck, don’t expect me to understand or wish to join in all that national flag-waving and writhing, which is just a cover-up for your own private griefs you’re always told to “get over,” and “stiff upper lip.” Stay home and hold your own dead next time, so you don’t have to latch onto somebody else’s troubles. Get down and cry for real, so you don’t have to be part of the pageant next time.
Let’s just stay out of each other’s heart-rooms. Or at least take off your damn muddy boots.