Etiquette School is in session! > "What an interesting assumption."

Death and people putting their feet in their mouths....

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Whenever someone I know experiences the loss of someone they love, the only thing I say is, "I'm so sorry for your loss," because from my understanding, that's really the only appropriate thing (or something along the lines of it) to say. I've read about people putting their foot in their mouth when trying to console you, but I just actually experienced it for the first time. Maybe I see this as bad etiquette just because I'm still raw from my Pappaw's death (as we haven't even had the viewing or funeral yet), but on another forum that I visit for support and help with an issue that I've dealt with for a long time, I posted about my Pappaw's death because they've always been a very supportive community and I'm close with many of the members there. In the thread I started seeking a little support, one of the other members (to whom I'm not close) said, "My grandpa is dying of cancer, so I know the pain." I know the poor girl meant well, and followed up with an offer to PM her if I need to talk which I really truly appreciate, but I can't help but think, "No! You don't know how I feel! Your grandpa is still WITH you! Mine isn't and you may understand how it feels to watch someone you love die, and that hurts like ****ing hell but you don't know how I feel at this moment because your grandfather is still WITH you!" Of course, I won't say that - all I am doing is thanking them all for their kind words. Like I said, I know this girl meant well and bless her heart for at least trying, but what is the consensus on something like this? Bad etiquette or am I being a little overly-sensitive about it?

I wouldn't say bad etiquette as such, more a misguided attempt to empathise. Perhaps she would be better to have said "My Grandpa is dying of cancer, so I know something of what you are feeling" rather than trying to claim ownership of your feelings. I think you're right to just let it go and thank her for the thought.

Oh Joy:
I am sorry for your loss as well.  I hope you're working out your questions about what to wear and what role to serve at your Pappaw's service.

You are right - it is strongly suggested to not reference your own losses when consoling another, and for the very feelings that you're experiencing.  However, it is very commonly done with the best of intentions (even on this forum...the I Need a Hug folder and others are full of examples). 

My recommendation is that you view these references as well-intentioned but clueless...kind of like if you said you were going to Tampa for vacation and someone responds by sharing their experiences in Orlando (for non-US folks, they're cities in the same state but a long drive apart and very different).  Figuratively smile and nod, and move on.

Best wishes.

I think it falls somewhere in the middle.  People should avoid saying "Iknow how you feel" and you are probably feeling a bit sensitive to it now.  even if she had most her Grandpa there is no way her and your experience would be exactly the same.  even relatives in the same family experience it in slightly different ways.  The only one who knows exactly how you are feeling is you.

That being said, I do think there are some cases where you can personalize it a bit more than "I'm so sorry for your loss" - if oyu know the person well and they have regularly been talking about their thoughts and feelings with you.

I am sorry for your loss.

However - I think you're being unreasonably hard on the other forum-member.  No, her grandfather has not yet passed away but she knows that it's close - so I think she deserves some acknowledgement of her empathy.  She didn't say "I know exactly how you feel", but "I know your pain" and there's indeed a difference.

She didn't say something like "I know how you feel, my hamster died six months ago".  I truly do not see this as a foot-in-mouth situation at all.


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