I took a trip and asked a friend to take care of my favorite cat, Fluffy, while I was away.
I called after a couple of days and asked how Fluffy was doing. My friend said "Fluffy's dead."
I was shocked -- I almost fell in my tracks. "Sean, you can't just blurt out something like that. You've got to give me a chance to like prepare for it. Do you know what I mean?"
Sean didn't understand, so I explained. "Let's say I call one day and ask about Fluffy, and you can say 'Fluffy's on the roof.' The next time I call and ask about Fluffy, you might say 'well, we got him rescued but he was dropped coming down the ladder, and he's at the vet.' The next day you can tell me that Fluffy's isn't doing too well, and then the next day, you can break it to me that Fluffy's dead. That would be the tactful way to help me prepare for the news." Sean assured me that he understood and, if the situation ever came up again, he'd know how to handle it. So I started asking what else what happening in my absence. "How's Grandma?" I asked.
"Grandma's on the roof."