Last night I attended a baby shower. There were no games and wonderful food, so all told a pretty good shower as such things go. Except for one disturbing conversation that took place around me. In the last couple of weeks several families I know through church have had loved ones pass away. And one of the ladies at the shower hadn't heard of the most recent passing. So three ladies were discussing the details:
Lady 1: I have just had to send out too many sympathy cards lately.
Lady 2: What?
Lady 3: So-and-so's sister passed away.
Lady 2: Sister A or sister B?
Lady 1: Sister B.
Lady 2: Wait I thought sister A was the one that was sick.
Lady 3: No, it was sister B
Lady 1: Which is just so tragic. She is leaving behind a 10 year-old daughter
Lady 3: No, she is 15. The same age as my daughter.
Lady 2: Oh, how sad.
I have long had the sneaking suspicion that single people are looked at as second-class citizens in our conservative, religious culture. Single people aren't the norm in most congregations and are often expected to pick up extra slack because we don't have a husband or children. It also happens to married women without children, I suspect. But to hear a conversation in which some participants intimate that it is somehow more tragic for one 40-something woman to die than another simply because one has children is awful. A life ended is a life ended, regardless of circumstance. It is appalling to hear that people think otherwise.