Tuesday, July 03, 2007

How to break bad news

I just got a message from my brother that proves he is pretty much the worst ever at composing bad news emails. This is it in all its unedited splendour:


Hope your well! Just phoned mum and she is in hospital with some kind of infection due to the chemo. If you haven't heard Grandma is also pretty much on her death bed. Mum said she cannot stand at all and it takes 2 people to lift her and she often cannot swallow her food but I'm sure you'll get the most up to date news as it comes thru.

But hows life outside of all this sickness and death? Things for me are pretty swell, works good by all accounts and I'll shortly be buying tickets to Melbourne for Christmas. You and [Geekman] are both still welcome to come have a big ol' family christmas if you'd like to and like before i offer you free accommadation and fun times as well!

But now I must go check my chocolate brownies before they burn! go wel, go Shell.


At least the style gave me something to laugh about, which almost counteracts the effect of the content. If I didn't know better, I'd have thought he did it on purpose.


Weekend_Viking said...

He and tact have a parallel relationship, don't they? No visible chance of intersection.

Will you be needing to head back over there soon, then? This is really not going to help with the whole thesis thing.


StyleyGeek said...

I hope not. I guess it depends how serious this infection is that mum has. If she needed me, I'd be there. But hopefully she's not in any real danger. I'll call in the morning and see.

I said goodbye to Grandma before I left: we knew it wouldn't be very long then. And I don't think I can go back for the funeral. I am in two minds about it. I would once have said I would want to go to be there for Grandad, if nothing else, but he seems to be completely unaware of everything lately (dementia), so I don't know that he'd know if I came or not.

I have the added problem that semester starts in a week and a half and I am teaching pretty much full time. So I won't be able to get away during the week at all. If I had to, I could probably find someone to fill in for me for a couple of lectures, but it would be extremely difficult.

Then again, it sounds brutally callous to say I won't attend my own grandmother's funeral because travel is expensive and/or I'm needed at work. Argh!

RageyOne said...

Sorry to hear about your Grandma. Dealing with those types of issues is never simple. I do hope your Mum's condition is not more serious.

Twirly said...


Don't feel bad if you can't end up attending the funeral - funerals are for the living - you loved her, she knew it. I'm sure some people don't agree, but....

Anonymous said...

this makes me like your brother.

SpicyCat said...

Can understand the whole not travelling for your Grandmother's funeral, with work and financial pressures.

If it is any comfort, you are not alone, someone from my work has gone rushing off to hospital this morning, cause his mother is in hospital with a bad chest infection. She has been in for 2 days but didn't want to tell him, cause it might stress him out.

Nothing to say of what his stress levels did when he did find out...

Badaunt said...

Hey, I think your brother and my brother are related! He wrote an email to me once about his wife - his WIFE - having a near-deadly illness, and having to have her spleen removed in an emergency operation, that was very similar in tone.

Does he read his email? Are you also familiar with the situation where you have to squeeze all your news into the subject line because you know won't actually open your email until 'later'?

Sorry to hear about your grandma. Both my grandmas died while I was in Japan, and in both cases the problem was solved for me by nobody telling me until quite a while after the funeral. In the case of the first one to go, a couple of YEARS after the funeral, actually. (Cults, eh? I think the length of time they wait to tell me after the event is a measure of how evil they think I am. Apparently I am becoming less evil as I age.)

But I was going to say ... when my darling wee grandma died (as opposed to the slightly scary big grandma I didn't know as well) it was sad, but missing the funeral was not such a big deal. We had said our goodbyes, and that REALLY DOES COUNT.

Badaunt said...

Incidentally, it's weird to read about your semester starting in a couple of weeks. In my case, semester ENDS in a couple of weeks. (Or three, in the case of one university.)

Also (and I know this is TOTALLY inappropriate, please forgive me, I just can't help myself), since semester is starting for you soon you'd better get used to the idea of grandmothers dying. It happens a lot. Almost never grandfathers, for some reason. Universities are hell on grandmas.

StyleyGeek said...

Badaunt, your "totally inappropriate" bit made me laugh out loud. You are so right. Why is it always grandmothers? (Incidentally, I am making a really big effort to not get myself into a situation where I have to explain to my supervisor that I have missed her final deadline for my thesis due to my grandmother dying. I think she would give me the benefit of the doubt, but it just sounds so bogus.).

Anastasia: Me too. And I liked him already in the first place.

StyleyGeek said...

Oh, and no one told me until after the funeral when the last two close members of my family died. I was so incredibly pissed off that I don't think anyone would do that to me again :)