When my acquaintance first told me his Bubby passed, I thought he was referring to his dog “Buddy”. And my heart went out to him because I know when you’re childless and you’re a fucked up veteran, sometimes the only thing in this world that depends on you and loves you unconditionally is your pet. But when he explained that bubby was his grandmother, my inner voice said “Wheew, well glad to hear your dog is okay”. When someone tells me a grandparent died, I have to pause before I respond. Because here is my honest thought process: Yes, your grandparents died because that’s what people do, particularly those of an advanced age. And you being close to my age means you got to keep your grandparents a long time. Much longer than I did. Heck, your parents are still alive. So congratulations! Unless they died a horrible, painful, drawn out death like wasting away from cancer or in a nursing home, at which point I think anyone would be ready to tap-out, sounds like you all got off pretty lucky.
But I won’t say that nor will I apply some empty, stock sentiment like “Sorry for your loss”. Instead, I ask “Is there something I can do? Do you need me to watch your pets while you attend a memorial service?” That much is sincere.