There are two siblings, Mary and Jack. Mary has Jack house sit and watch her cat while she is on a business trip. After a few days, she calls to check in.
"How are things going? House still standing? How's Brody doing?"
Jack paused a bit and said, "Um, yea. Your house is still standing. Nothing to report, but I really hate to tell you this, though, but Brody died chasing a bird."
"What?" Mary said. "Dammit, Jack. You just can't tell someone that their cat is dead like that. You have
to break it to them slowly. When I first called, you should have said that Brody is on the roof, trying to catch a bird. The next time I called you
should have said that he fell trying to catch the bird as it flew away, and
now it's at the vet. The next call should be to tell me that the
vet says that it's not looking good for Brody, but he is not in any pain. Finally, you tell me that Brody died peacefully in its sleep."
Jack apologized and said he won't break news that way again. They continue about everything and at the end of the conversation Mary asks, "How's Grandma doing?"
Without missing a beat, "Well, Grandma's on the roof trying to catch a bird."
I always liked this joke and I always approach giving news to people in phases like that, especially, if it is bad. Some people think it is better to get to the point, but I think they are going to hear more before you get to bad news than anything you say once you tell them. Also, if they have an active imagination they are going to think something way worse and will be relieved when you tell them the real news since it won't be nearly as bad as the conclusions they jumped to.
So, if I am going to be blogging about something that is along these lines and you see the title "The cat is on the roof" then you will know that this is building up to some news.