Thinking about Brrrr

About a month ago I wandered around the Relief Society room during the third hour of church. I scanned the room of chatting women to see if I could find people who would offer the opening and closing prayers.

When I walked back to the front of the room I noticed the face of the woman who would be conducting the meeting. I remarked to her that she looked tired, and I asked if everything was okay. I expected her to respond with something about staying up all night with her toddler daughter. Instead she told me that her cousin had died the day before.

This completely caught me off guard but I told her that I was so very sorry.

Class was about to begin. She got up and conducted the meeting.

For the final 45 minutes of church I couldn’t pay attention to the lesson. I kept thinking about my church friend at the end of the row, staring blankly, trying not to think. I knew this person was hurting but I still felt vulnerable around her. I wanted to hug her and talk to her about her loss. She had to keep it together so that she wouldn’t fall apart in front of the class.

It wasn’t until after the closing prayer that a few women gathered around her to offer hugs while mournful tears streamed down her face.

I didn’t get to talk to her.

About an hour later back at home, I received a text from this lady. She thanked me for my concern. She said she couldn’t talk before the meeting because she was conducting and didn’t want cry in front of everybody. I told her that I understood and again I was very sorry.

She said that her cousin was found outside the day before, frozen to death.

I gasped then cried when I read this.

People die because of the weather probably more often than we are aware. Pets, too. Heatstroke. Hypothermia.

Since hearing about this incident, whenever I go on Facebook and see people who live in warmer climates poking fun at people who live where it snows or freezes over, it makes me sad.

When the polar vortex hit, all I could do was hope that everyone found a warm place to wait it out. Even the poor souls who have never before experienced weather sub-30 degrees Fahrenheit. Especially those people who watched from their yards the mercury plunge ever deeper below zero.

This lady from church is originally from Arizona, where I know she’d rather be during the wintertime. I wonder when she sees those teasing Facebook posts to actual people who live in snow and ice and constant frigidity, if she says to herself that she can’t be mad at them; they don’t know her. They don’t know she has a cousin who died in the conditions they’re making fun of. They don’t know they’re being insensitive. They may even have experience with cold weather, but it’s hard not to imagine their attitude that they’re superior because they’re warmer. I wonder if it’s even crossed their minds, a loved one dying in extreme weather. Do they know what it’s like?

This lady at church? She knows.

2 thoughts on “Thinking about Brrrr

  1. How sad! I’m so sorry for her loss! So hard to imagine but I’m so glad she had people there to comfort and support her. Sounds like you have a great ward! For the most part I really don’t think it can be viewed as people being insensitive or feeling superior just because they’re warmer. Although I imagine if you’ve just experienced a great loss that perhaps you would feel that way and it would sting a little (or a lot). It’s a lot like when northerners make fun of the south when it’s 100 degrees and yet many people die every year because of heat exhaustion. Does that mean you can’t poke fun and do some harmless teasing with your friends and family on FB? Harmless being the key word. I bet when people complain about traffic it stings someone who lost a family member in a traffic accident. I’m sure my complaining about parenthood perhaps strikes a chord with somebody who lost a child or would do anything to be a parent, but does that mean I can’t ever express myself on the off chance I may offend somebody? Choosing words carefully could help alleviate any appearance of being insensitive, but then there’s always something that can offend if we choose to be offended. Just my 2 cents! 🙂

    • Of course you can express yourself. And like I said, I imagine/hope my friend’s attitude would be that people don’t know her and her circumstances, so she probably shouldn’t be mad at off-handed comments from people who just don’t know. Hurt, yes, because the subject of the comments reminds her of a sad time. When people zoom and weave through standstill traffic are they thinking that someone probably died doing what they’re doing? We don’t know what they’re thinking; they may just not care or they could have an emergency of their own or any other possibility of a slew of circumstances. Of course when we tease we don’t mean anything by it, and for the most part people get that. And when we tease there’s always a chance that it affects someone who’s still grieving; it’s not that they’re choosing to be offended. It’s a very unintended, nondeliberate insensitivity (if there is such a thing). But if someone came up to me after I said something and said, “You had no idea this thing happened in my life, but what you said sort of triggered some sadness,” I would sympathize with that person. So all I’m doing when I see/hear casual or teasing remarks is sympathizing. I can see the humor in what people say; I prefer warmer weather, too. But I also hope those who have experienced loss and happen to see/hear those same remarks are doing okay.

A little discussion.

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