Someone dies, someone calls you. You have a repertoire, and the contents of the conversation are constant with minor variations- intestate or testate. “I am sorry for your loss” you say. Death has become you. You utter the sincerest phrase repetitively; you cannot remember the last time you said it with the sincerity it was designed for. The sympathies are not heartfelt.
Death is final but for you, death is the beginning. You are in the business of death. You schedule an appointment for the first consultation. You go on with your day with so much ease, as if you haven’t received the most painful news. It is THEIR loss not yours. Nothing in your life has changed. A person with a name has been converted to the deceased. A will file has ben converted into a deceased file. The subject line in your emails has changed to Estate Late.
You have mastered death; you empathise but never sympathise. It is THEIR loss, not yours. Their grief is your job. Their pain is not yours to sort, just the affairs of their dearly departed. You understand sorrow but you do not share in it.
Your first consultation is the hardest. They are trying very hard not to cry because up until the death of their loved one, you were just a stranger who is about to know their personal lives on an intimate level. But you have done this so many times their tears do not move you anymore. You have developed a sequence; know when to pause, offer tea, to be silent.
You never allow yourself to say “I know how you feel” because besides grief being personal, you religiously interact with death you are now devoid of feeling. You cannot say “I am thinking of you in this difficult time” because the truth is you do not. It is THEIR loss not yours.
You have truly mastered death. Until one day, it is your loss. You call someone for that appointment. You do not have morbid jokes. Your loss is not just a file. You grieve. It is YOUR loss not theirs. Death has not become you. You have not mastered death. You are just an administrator of estates.