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How soon is too soon?

I feel rather…well, blank right now.

Writing an obituary on someone who died this morning can do that to you. Because he was this former city official, my editor felt we should get something into this week’s edition. So I had to call the other officials he knew and worked with…I had to call the funeral home…

And that was all fine and dandy with me. I can do this. I can make sure I don’t get emotionally involved, because I need to be objective.

Then I called the family.

I mean, sure, I was doing my job. But…this man. He died this morning from a heart attack. THIS MORNING. And I called his family hours after it happened.

I understand timeliness and trying to get things as up-to-date as possible. And it’s my job to do these things. But this is just one of those personal things for me. I shouldn’t have called. Not yet. Maybe tomorrow, but not the day of.

I mean, it’s not like I was obtrusive. I tried to be as sensitive as possible. But I actually asked, “How are you today?” out of habit, and the son replied with a kinda bitter laugh, “Not so well, actually.”

Forget feeling blank.

I feel horrible. Absolutely horrible, like I am the worst person in the entire world right now.

😦

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3 thoughts on “How soon is too soon?

  1. annie says:

    You are NOT the worst person in the world. Not even close.

    Writing obituaries is the hardest thing we do as journalists, and it’s also the most important thing you ever write. You owed it to his memory and to his family to call them. You owed it to his life to have the details as accurately as possible. These are the kind of articles that get saved in scrapbooks, that people look back on to track their lives by. Calling the family is not callous, or cruel, it’s very human. It’s allowing them to have a say in how their loved one’s life will be remembered.

    I know exactly how you feel, I’ve been there. Just know that calling doesn’t make you a bad person, or a bad journalist but a more human one.

  2. MikeMan says:

    Well if she’s going to take the sensitive girl answer, here’s my sensitive man answer:

    There’s no feeling in journalism.

  3. MikeMan says:

    And actually what I mean is that Annie is totally right. You have to embrace death differently and know that your job is paramount in in matters like this. Humans constantly try to understand death and your job helps them do that.

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