I said it just to make conversation. I didn’t know the other two ladies as we were escorted to speak to employees of a factory. I noticed a sign stating the date of the last on site accident and said, “Doesn’t it make you wonder what happened?”
“No. I’d rather not know,” was one of their replies. I wasn’t offended. As I said, it was simple conversation. We continued to the meeting, made our presentations, and were just getting ready to leave when one of the women mentioned it was a struggle for them to be there, because her husband (who was related to the other woman, too) had been killed in an accident years ago at the same factory.
I was mortified.
Of course, I apologized, more than once, including a note I sent soon afterward. They assured me I had no idea of knowing and were in no way offended. It was healing for them to be on site. I still felt awful.
What would make me say such a thing? I meant no harm. I began to wonder how insensitive our words can be even when our intentions are pure.
We can’t possibly know all the details. But we need to pay attention to clues into what’s going in people’s lives in any situation we’re in. We need to be sensitive.
And on the flip side, we need to remember no one knows everything about us, especially people with whom we have limited contact. So, when people say something offensive or hurtful, perhaps we should give them grace and forgiveness.
I know I certainly appreciated it.