I was reading a Clancy novel and an Officer had to make the rounds after a battle to all of the widows homes to tell them that Johnny wasn’t coming home…so it got me thinking about how one would tell someone, etc etc.
I have had to do this once, but it wasn’t a huge shocker. My wife’s friend called us one night and told us that she couldn’t reach her dad by phone at home. So she went over there and the door was bolted from the inside. She didn’t know what to do, so I was volunteered to handle the situation (even though at the time I spoke only enough Czech to order a beer.). I told them to contact the fire department and tell them the situation. My wife insisted that the police were the best choice. So she called them and they told her that they would call the fire department and we should go meet them at the apartment.
We get to the apartment as the fire truck pulls up and meet our friend. She is clearly upset and, of course, thinking the worst (which I guess we all were). We go up to the 5th floor while the fire dept. raises a ladder to the window to let someone in. A police man arrives and waits for a minute, then the fireman opens the door. They go back inside, and then the cop comes out and gives me the “yeah, not good” look. I go into the apartment and see my friend’s dad lying naked on the living room floor (dead). He must have had a heart attack on the way to the shower. I go outside and walked up to our friend and just gave her a big hug, which told her all she needed and also allowed me to make sure she didn’t pass out at the top of the stairwell. She started to push past me and I held her back saying “You really don’t want to see him now.” (the last sight of her dad as naked and dead? No way.) She collapsed at that point and had a good cry while I went to take care of what needed to be done- police, morgue, etc. My wife got her out of there before they wheeled his body out in a bag.
That in itself was an interesting bit- How does one get a body down from the 5th floor in an old Czech housing project? By proping them upright in the 3 person elevator and riding down…Which would suck if the elevator got stuck.
So I had to break the bad news on that, but it was the expected answer. The shock would have been if he had just gotten stuck in the tub or something like that.
I hope I never have to do anything like that again. That was hard enough as it was.