Barry Schlesinger and his family went on vacation for a few weeks, and left their cat with his brother Ben.
After a few days, he called his brother, and asked how his cat is doing.
“I’m sorry,“ said Ben, "but the cat died.”
Barry was stunned, for a moment—then furious.
“How could you just break it to me like that?” he yelled at Ben through the phone. “You knew we’re not coming home for another week—you should have broken it to us gently—like, ‘The cat went onto the roof and we can’t get it down,’ and then the next day I’d call back and you’d say, ‘We got the cat down, but the vet says she’s in bad shape, and may not make it,’ and then the third day I’d call, and then you’d tell me the cat had died. That way it wouldn’t come as such a shock, and I’d have been better able to deal with it!”
Ben apologized. "I’m sorry, you’re right. I should have thought.”
Barry was partly mollified.
“Yeah, well, I’m sorry for snapping at you like that—but you know how sudden tragedy is worse than gradual… Anyway, how’s Grandma?”
Ben was silent for a moment.