Was he wearing a helmet? Was she wearing a seat belt? Did she smoke?
My mother was in a nursing home for 7 years. During that time, Sharon, one of her aides, cared gently for my mom. She did lots of extra special things for my mom: She would sit with her and just chat. Come visit my mom on her day off. Give her back rubs and manicures.
Then one day Sharon was diagnosed with lung cancer. Then the buzz around the nursing home was: “Did she smoke?” Why? In the crisis these questions are beside the point. There is a person dead or suffering and we ask: “Did she smoke?” “Was he wearing a helmet or a seat belt?” “Had he been drinking?” Why do we do that?
I think that it is difficult to suffer with and for someone, and if we can establish that somehow the accident or illness was the victim’s own fault, we don’t have to feel quite so bad or get so involved. Instead of those insensitive questions, one might say instead to the suffering person: “I’m so sorry about your trouble or illness,” or “I know that you are hurting, and I really care about that. If you want to talk about it, I’ll listen.”
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Photo credit: Eric (https://goo.gl/8K41Qk)