“We just got a death call and you’ll never guess who it is,” my manager told me. “Remember that lady who came in a few weeks ago when her son got murdered?”

“Yeah, I remember her! Did she get murdered too?”

“No. Her other son shot himself.”


I believe there are limits to what the human psyche can handle, and this is outside those limits.

This is not one of those cases where I encourage heavy family involvement; where I get the whole family together to pick out the casket and design the memorial programs and show them our sound system and how the chapel is set up. No, this will be one where I will take care of everything so the mother does not have to think. She can’t think at all right now. In three weeks, both her children have died. So I will plan the whole service and bring all the forms to her house and she won’t have to do anything but show up on the date of the funeral.

Repeat business is great. It means the family remembered your business as the place to go the next time a death occurs. It means they chose me over someone else. But regardless of how well I was able to help you the first time, I still am the last person you want to meet. If you have an appointment with me it’s because you are having the worst day of your life.

And I can’t make it better. I can make this part easier. But nothing will ever make this woman’s situation better. Does time help? Sure. It helps. But it doesn’t repair.

The way I explain it is the hurt never really goes away; nor does the pain and disbelief and everything grief is. It doesn’t get better. What happens is in between all the horrible days, you start having a few more good ones. And then, at some point, you will notice the good days start to outnumber the bad. You can talk about the one you lost without breaking down. You have uninterrupted sleep. You’re not the same, but you function.

It would be easy to say this woman will probably kill herself soon, but I don’t see it happening. I think killing yourself is actually a very difficult act to accomplish, and most older women just don’t have it in them. She may fall into the easy trap of substance abuse and self-neglect and eventually die of some preventable cause, but I don’t see her picking up a gun.

I could be wrong. I’ll keep my eyes open for her name to pop up on my call list.