My dear husband is trying to quit smoking and has discovered that he can literally get away with being rude and grumpy at work by simply saying, "I'm trying to quit smoking and you are the unfortunate soul who has caught me at my worst." Wow, wish I could use that one, but everyone knows I don't smoke. So when can you be horrible to other people, get away with it, and be comfortable with it?
I figure there is a fine line somewhere. For example you could be a complete *itch on the phone and then try to excuse it because grandma died, but it wouldn't fly. No one is going to be okay with being abused just because your mimi died last week. Obviously no one's mimi would approve of your behavior. Then there are the excuses that make you uncomfortable, like, yeah, I just snapped your head off because I've just become homeless. Way too personal; uncomfortable for you and your victim. Perhaps it's a combination of situation, timing, and something everyone can relate to.
So can I use death, cancer, being a victim of a disaster, as an excuse? No. However, fighting an addiction, pain, or being dumped would be acceptable excuses for being snippy. This next week or two DH is going to get away with social transgressions all over the place while I have to be polite and quietly deal with getting my elderly mother ready to face this malignant melanoma. I'm envious of DH, but won't hold it against him, after all he is trying to quit smoking.