|Laurie with her father|
This phrase bothers me because it has become the catch all phrase people use when they don’t know what to say but they think they should say something. This little phrase, “I’m sorry” is used regardless and constantly to console someone from the loss of a set of keys to a bad day at work. “I’m sorry” is said with the same casual civility one would use to say good morning, or hello. There is generally no thought or emotion behind it. “I’m sorry” has become a filler phrase.
A filler phrase that I heard at a constant rate immediately after my Dad drowned in a boating accident in 1997. After the first 50 times I heard it I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs. These people didn’t cause Dad’s death, why are they sorry? Did they capsize the boat? Did they make the river freezing that gave him hypothermia? No! So then why the hell are they sorry? I knew they were saying it because they didn’t know what to say to me or to my family but they felt they should say something.
Maybe for the rest of the family it was enough solace that people were sorry. For me I would have preferred people say nothing and pat my shoulder or give me a hug. Granted a hug from a stranger or acquaintance is rather odd. A hand shake and a kind word or antic dote about Dad would have been enough. For the most part many folks did just that, but many of the acquaintances that knew my family for decades but didn’t know me well fell into the “I’m sorry” category. So when you hear of some tragic event that befalls someone you know whether they are a good friend or an acquaintance take a few minutes before you respond. Whatever it is you choose to say make sure you are sincere and sometimes the cliché actions speak louder than words are never more apropos when tragedy strikes unexpectedly.