Imagine a brain in which the visceral sense of knowing is disconnected from centres for logical thought, yet stuck on a given idea. No matter what contrary evidence or line of reasoning is presented that the idea is wrong, that brain will continue to generate a feeling of rightness. We’re all familiar with this behaviour in its most extreme form – those intractable ‘know-it-alls’ entirely immune to contradictory ideas. We must at least consider the possibility that know-it-all behaviour is a problem of neural circuitry, much like dyslexia.
Women are the worst, but also the best, in the trying times of death and catastrophe. A good woman can see what work needs doing. She does it; gets help when needed. Leaves the men to stand around “being strong.” (The best of the men also make themselves useful.) Food always needs cooking; there is cleaning to be done; other details to take care of. Contemplation requires leisure; let the grieving have the leisure they require. They ask for no advice: give none. Don’t distract with offers of help that are both unnecessary and insincere. Instead be attentive to request, and act — invisibly. Be there, on call like a soldier; and like a good soldier, shut up.