Tragedy brings out the best in many people. But there’s always one or two people who just know how to be jerks.
Especially when someone’s pet dies.
Many Ways To Be A Jerk
Did you know I’m a guinea pig aunt?
My sister has had several adorable guinea pigs over the years. Each one has his or her own personality, favorite treats, and ways of behaving.
It’s easy to see why my sister loves these little characters so much. But apparently not everyone does.
My sister told me once that after one of her guinea pigs died no one seemed to understand why she was so sad. After all, it was only a guinea pig.
One of our college friends was the lone acquaintance who sympathized with her loss.
But setting up a hierarchy of grief—grieve more for people than for dogs; for dogs than for cats; for cats more than small mammals; for small mammals more than reptiles…you know people like that—isn’t the only way to be a jerk when someone’s pet dies.
An Excuse To Rant
The internet gives us an easy way to share. It also gives us an easy way to rant.
A very kind friend of mine posted on social media that a friend of hers had a dog who died unexpectedly. She knew that most of us wouldn’t know her friend. But she also knew that anyone who has ever lost a pet they’ve loved would understand the intense shock and grief.
She was right.
There was an outpouring of sympathy for this stranger coping with loss.
And then there was a jerk.
You see, the dog died from a vaccine reaction. And Ms. Jerk decided this was the perfect opportunity to for her to rant about her suspicion of vaccinations.
I have no problem with an honest debate on nearly any topic. But there’s a time and a place.
And when someone is grieving their best friend, that is not the time.
Anyone who can’t see that is a jerk in my book.
Learning Not To Be A Jerk
Did you ever notice how people have strong reactions to tendencies they struggle with?
Ex-smokers become rabid haters of nicotine. And doesn’t everyone wait for the news story that a hateful, homophobe has gotten caught soliciting sex in a rest stop restroom?
Well, I’ve had my own jerky tendencies.
When people are suffering, I have a strong tendency to try to give them advice. And they don’t need it.
When people are in pain, they don’t need me to solve their problems. They need someone to say, “I’m sorry you’re feeling bad. It stinks, doesn’t it?”
That’s why I feel compelled to urge people not to be jerks. Especially when someone’s pet dies.
How Not To Be A Jerk When Someone’s Pet Dies
It’s hard to know what to say when someone is grieving. But here are a few suggestions:
- I’m so sorry.
- Is there anything I can do for you?
- I’m here if you want to talk about it.
- It probably happened because you…
- You just have to get over it.
- Why are you so upset? It’s only an animal.
You see, I know you’re not jerks.
I read your thoughtful and kind comments here and on social media. Some of you I’ve gotten to know personally. And I feel very lucky that my little blog doesn’t attract jerks.
But you probably read jerky stuff all over the internet. And now you have a post you can bookmark and share when it seems appropriate.
And tell the jerk that you’d never say such a thing. But there’s this blogger you know who thinks he or she’s a jerk.
Your Turn: What’s the best way to deal with a jerk who comes along when someone’s pet dies?