A friend of mine had a truly crappy weekend this past weekend, on top of a bunch of difficulties this friend has been through recently. My friend wrote on Facebook to list what was tough about the weekend and, to give context, explained how it tied into a particular piece of tough news, I'll call it Difficulty X, that started earlier. And one person replied (closely paraphrased) "I stopped reading after learning about Difficulty X, because it's so sad."
Now, I'm sure the person who replied thought this was helpful and empathetic and commiserating to say. My immediate response: No, it's not. Even if unintended, that comment left an aftertaste: I can only handle that one thing, not anything else that's currently tough for you. Or: I don't want to handle anything else that's currently tough for you.
The last time I remember hearing the phrase "I read the whole thing," it was from a particular smartass I'm acquainted with whose point was Really? People think they're helping by saying this? And I, as someone who has used the line and who saw a place where EVEN JUST THAT was too hard for a certain someone, thought YES. IT DOES.
Empathy. It beats the alternative. I'm going to keep harping on that.