I am an awful person who laughs at the tragedies of friends and co-workers

The university where I work has a ban on major papers and exams during the final week of classes (the week before final exams) and for this reason it is called “Dead Week”. Not all professors honor it, but most do.

The associate dean of my department is a lady I saw often on smoke breaks. She was very nice and though we most certainly weren’t super close or buddy-buddy we did talk about personal things and the like upon occasion. Thursday we went to lunch with a sales rep for a major database company and had a really good time as the only two smokers in the bunch talking about favorite vacation spots and books and the like. On Friday when I told her to have a nice weekend she told me she was going dancing with a friend. (This is a lady of perhaps 60 and in good health.)

Tonight my boss called me. The associate dean went to the club, danced, had a good time and while on the dance floor suffered- something- and died. It was a very fast and totally unexpected thing. There’s to be an autopsy- it sounds like an aneurism or perhaps a stroke. Literally, one minute she was dancing and the next she was in a coma from which she never woke. Awful and truly shocking and just one of those “WtF! She wasn’t old and she seemed happy and in good health… WTF! WTFWTF!?” shockers.

I’m not going to overestimate how close we were. She wasn’t a bosom buddy or somebody I ever once saw outside of work (other than the business lunch at a restaurant last Thursday if that counts) but I liked her when I spoke with, she was fair as a boss (she’s my boss’s boss so I didn’t deal with her that often, but when I did she was very “open door policy” and treated you as an equal, no power tripping or the like) and just all around nice lady and one minute she’s healthy and the next she’s dead and just… damn. (Very sudden deaths are the worst on survivors- it will take you years to get it through your mind that they’re not coming back.)

Anyway, though I didn’t know her terribly well on the personal level I liked her, she seemed a genuinely good person, I will miss seeing her on smoke breaks (no “sign you should stop smoking” comments please, I’m way ahead of you) and my heart goes out to her family, who I don’t know personally but who I do know meant the world to her. And I do not make light of her death in any way.

We have a friend in common, a former boss of mine that I really liked who was a former classmate/colleague of hers. I sent her an e-mail telling he about the death. The death just became public knowledge yesterday and no obituary has been prepared so for the e-mail to our friend I did a google news search of her name to see if perhaps an obituary has been published online (google news searches small town and college papers as well so it was worth a shot). There’s not one. Only one mentioning of her came up, that from the school paper.

In which the following quote is made by her in an interview about the library’s decision to remain open 24/7 this week and next:

“I’m pleased to announce there will be something different about this Dead/Final Week.”

I am totally going to hell for laughing at this but to quote Capote, “sometimes there’s God”. I do so love tragicomic irony in the face of a shocking announcement.

Rather reminds me of my father, a man who was so well known and respected for his eloquence and his oratorical skills that he was flown all over the nation to perform eulogies and the Masonic rites for people he’d never met, who was literally nicknamed “Sterling” for his silver tongue and called “Professor” by everybody for his ability and willingness to quote Poe or Tennyson or Whitman or most any great 19th century poet at any or (more likely) no provocation, a man so legendary for his grandiloquence of style that politicians asked him to introduce them when they spoke in his state, a man whose last words on Earth were when he poked his head out of a bathroom door and asked “You wanna take a dump in here before I flush it?” (Our house was on an electric well and the power was off due to a snow storm and the toilets each had one flush left, after which the toilet would not refill due to the absence of power, and he had already used it and obviously wanted to flush if it wasn’t needed, so it wasn’t quite as country a question as it sounded- I didn’t, he flushed, he crawled into bed with me [we shared a bed because without power the house was freezing] and he never woke up. When my sister asked me what his last words were, I lied.

Anyway, none of this is to minimize the loss of the lady- again and again, she was a very nice lady and I genuinely liked her and will miss her. But that was so damned unexpected as to command ironic dark laughter, or as Christopher Marlowe once said, “That right unto there be-eth funny, I care not who thou art”.

I don’t see anything wrong with any of your experiences. When I opened this thread, I expected to read about someone who laughed when presented with bad news. When I was younger, I had a very hard time not “grinning” for a brief moment, just after I relayed bad news. It was a part of my own little defence mechanism, and I hated it.

Our reactions to bad news is nothing to be ashamed about, especially if you felt a real sense of loss. Personally, I think your Dad would laugh about his last words just as much as you did. I mean, how could you not?

I had a very-ex-boyfriend many years ago who took it upon himself to end his life some years after our relationship had petered out. We did remain friends though after that.

I got the call about his death from another friend, who tearfully told me of the circumstances. After my initial shock, I burst out laughing about the scenario.

Y’see, George had always been a bit of a loser. Unlike Midas, anything George did turned to shit rather than gold. And it transpired that he had shot himself in the head with a gun, rather immediately lethal one would think…but it still took him three whole days to die. Silly bugger missed the mark…again.

Yes, it was sad. There are times when I still miss him (as a friend over coffee dude) even though it was 20 years ago now. But I still find it deliciously ironic that he tried to blow his brains out but didn’t quite do it as planned.

One of my favorite novels is Cold Sassy Tree. The above reminds me of a scene from that- since it involves the death of a fairly major character I’ll spoilerize it.

The main character, a small town Georgia teenager named Will Tweedy [ca. 1910] has a drama queen beautiful young aunt married to a hopeless loser of a man named ‘Uncle Camp’. Camp works for his father-in-law [barely], can’t do anything right, he’s stupid and ugly and bumbling and the only reason his wife married him was because she was pissed at her father. Finally disgusted with himself and his life after his wife goes into a huge fit when he can’t fix the leaking sink in their bathroom, he kills himself. In a truly pitiful [and badly misspelled] suicide note he asks her forgiveness, tells her not to blame herself- he’s just tired of not being able to do anything right- leaves his watch to their son, and as a P.S. tells her “I did manage to fix the sink at least*.” As Will Tweedy, who found the body, reads the suicide note he hears the water dripping from the bathroom faucet. [He fixes it before his aunt returns.]

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with finding a little humor amongst the tragedy of losing someone suddenly.

My younger brother died in his house a little over four years ago now. My parents found him dead two days after his death. He had talked with my sister the evening he died, so it’s not like there was anything so strange about not hearing from him for a couple of days. Anyways, he had a bunch of health problems, but still his death was sudden.

As sad as this was and still is, I’ve always gotten a little smile on my face about the way he was found. Laid back in his recliner, tv on and a Budweiser sitting on the table next to him. Classic Gary. I’ll always believe he went the way he would have wanted to go. Even my sister (his twin) for whom his death was and still is particularly hard, can laugh about this.

You’re the opposite of awful, Sampiro. I hope there’s laughter at my funeral.

And, I’m awfully sorry about your brother, swampy.

One of the jobs I worked to help put myself through college was as a salesgirl at a wedding-gown store. One day I heard the two middle-aged ladies who ran the place talking, sadly and grimly, about the granddaughter of one of them.

“It’s really awful. She was born without any fingers. So she’s having this operation where they take off her toes and sew them onto her hands as fingers.”

I had to excuse myself to go into the ladies room and run the water really loud while I had an attack of hysterics. I had just gotten myself under control and came back out with a sympathetic look on my face, to hear her say,

“They just put her big toes on as thumbs,”

. . . And I was off again.

My dad was a local dignitary. Most well known for work with the local schools - in fact, there’s a junior high in town that was named for him. At one time or another, he ran the local library district, held appointed and other elected offices, and was generally very well-loved.

Some time in the 70’s, being as how he had to attend a lot of formal functions, he bought himself a tuxedo.

A navy blue, velour-trimmed, complete with a velvet bow tie and ruffl-y baby blue shirt tuxedo.

He wore the damn thing right up til months before he died in 1992.

At the funeral home the afternoon of his death, my sister, mom and I are going over arrangements with the director. The question of what Dad would wear came up, he mentioned that he had suits designed for this use, or we could if we wished, bring something of Dad’s in for him.

I glance at my sister (it was her BIRTHDAY), and make eye contact with a questioning look on my face. Her eyebrows raise. I start to stifle a grin. She flurbets out a suppressed laugh. I lose all control and just erupt in convulsions lauging. Then she is. Poor mom meanwhile is trying to understand what in the hell is so funny.

I explain to the director that there’s this tuxedo, see? And Dad loved it. And it would be wonderful if he could be buried in it, because he loved it so much.

Then my sister chimes in with “…and we’ll never ever have to see the ugly thing again…” and has to leave the room she’s laughing so hard.

I hope people can smile or laugh when I die. Um, not really soon you understand, just whenever that comes around…

Posting in italics?

I guess so. Weird. Carry on, please.

Trying to close the lost italic tag…*

one more try?
Think it worked…

:dubious: Allison DuBois, is that you? :smiley:

What a curious phenomenon, these italics.

I’ve never had anyone close to me die. On the one hand, I’m incredibly grateful for that; on the other, I’m scared that fate is just holding out for something really big, and I’m going to have no idea how to deal with it.

Gee, thanks, Sampiro–you managed to italicize every post under yours.

Everyone! Blame Sampiro! I laugh at this tragedy, Sampiro!


'Tis fixed.

Why am I reminded of the classic “Chuckles the Clown” episode on the old Mary Tyler Moore show?

Heh! I was thinking about that too. One of the all time funniest sitcom episodes ever. Everytime I see it I crack up. Comedy gold!

Oh, and due to the wonders of this here internet thing, here’s the script from “Chuckles Bites The Dust”

Hey, how did he do that? I might want to turn all the posts below my OP red or something in the future.


The woman died doing something she loved.

How many of us will get that?
Which is why whenever I catch “Grumpy Old Men” on TV, I laugh at the " Lucky Bastard" comment. Every time.