Updated: Dec 11, 2020
We live in a broken world. If suffering doesn't strike us personally, it invariably hits our friends and coworkers. Too often we forget to show them love and instead we ask questions that don't help.
Photo Credit: Ben Sutherland (CC BY 2.0)
For example, the next time someone tells you that their elderly parent or grandparent is in the hospital don't ask them how old their parent or grandparent is. While we may simply be curious, the message that we are indirectly sending is, "Haven't they lived a long life already? Should I even care; aren't they going to die soon anyway?"
Instead of a cold, quantitative inquiry, it would be better to offer a warm, compassionate show of support. For example, we could say, "I'm so sorry to hear that your grandmother is in the hospital. How are you holding up during this difficult time?"
Notice that this question is not trying to get data about the elderly person in the hospital. In these types of conversations, we need to show love and empathy to the person we are talking to. They want to feel that they are cared for. Satisfying our curiosity about grandma's chances does not offer them love.