What’s Your Bad News Preference – to Know or Not? 10

My brother said the other night that whenever I called I was reporting bad news.  I think he meant recent calls because I have called him, before these last few weeks, just to say hello.  (He rarely calls me but that’s another story.)  I call him when I think about him or when I know something I think he’d want to know.  Many times I’ve known about stuff happening with the family in St. Louis before he does…and he lives there.

What he said got me to thinking about bad news and being a harbinger of it. 

I want to know if a friend, former colleague or acquaintance has taken ill or passed.  (A few years ago, a woman who had been very good to me when I was in my early twenties had an illness for a few months and then passed.  We’d lost touch and so I didn’t know she’d taken ill.  The friend who knew us both in common didn’t tell me.  She assumed I knew. I didn’t and I was full of sorrow that I hadn’t been able to visit her in the hospital.)

I want to know if a friend is looking for a job or could use a few extra dollars.  I will share what I have when I can.

Today I had some more bad news of interest to my brother, but I sent it via email instead of calling him.  Wouldn’t you know it, after our email exchange (he knew the news before me this time but hadn’t thought to call me), I picked up the paper where a lovely, young Black woman’s photo leapt out of the obituaries.  As I read the text, I realized that she was the wife of a guy my brother had hung out with when he lived in Boston.  Whenever I ran into T, he always asked after my brother.  I always called brother and told him T had asked about him. 

So, should I tell brother or not?  Is the friendship so distant that it probably doesn’t matter to him to know?  Should I wait until hell freezes over – which will happen before brother calls me – to mention it?  Should I not mention it to brother at all and send my own note of sympathy?

Don’t nobody bring me no bad news,” the wicked witch in The Wiz sings.  “(If) you got to bring me something, bring me something I can use but don’t nobody bring me no bad news.”  (Written by the late Charlie Smalls, sung by Mabel King and The Winkies.)

I recently blogged about plugging my ears to keep from hearing bad news.  But bad stuff is unavoidable! You have to struggle to remember to notice the good which also exists in abundance but doesn’t race through the mouths of friends, family or media to land full-force in your ears and heart.  I don’t report bad news gleefully, I report it from deep sorrow or from utter amazement or with a tsk, tsk, tsk depending on its weight.

So, I ask you: do you want to be informed of bad news about people you know?
Holla back.


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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10 thoughts on “What’s Your Bad News Preference – to Know or Not?

  • LeeAnn

    I want to be told. As I grow older, my children share “bad” things with me that might have changed my course of action and now, years later, these things bring much more sorrow, though perhaps I was spared a bit of anguish in the short term. You are such a loving person and those that are blessed to hear such things from you must be comforted by your caring.

  • Kimberly

    Happy New Year, Candelaria!

    I need to be told. I hate surprises, especially the sad ones. And while I’m not a funeral goer, I do send cards and notes. So if I were you, I’d tell him and then let the bad news float away.

  • Jim

    Sometimes I don’t want to hear bad news and would rather that I had not been told, on the other hand, sometimes I want to know the news no matter what it is. So who am I to expect that anyone other than the curmudgeon who lives in my head would know when to tell me and when not to tell me? I say: give the news, regardless. Expect nothing.

  • Mary Ann

    Yes, I want to be told. But I’m not sure I’d go to the trouble to inform people who scolded me for doing so. That would take some courage.

    Came here from Lee’s blog. I like yours, too. Will be back.

  • Laura

    What is with brother’s and not calling. Mine, he is so unaware that I am waiting for him to call. But onto the point. I want to know all news, good and bad. I don’t like when people decide for me what I should or should not know–I’m a big girl, I can take it.

  • Kdahlface

    I definitely would want to know. And I usually tell people the news when I have it – although, if it’s really sensitive news I sometimes hesitate to tell others if I think it should come from the person who “owns” the news rather than me.