A man entered the emergency room one night, half-carrying a woman. Her tangled hair stuck to the tears that coursed down her face as she stumbled into a chair.
I approached the woman and knelt before her. "Can you tell me what is happening?"
"Charlie . . . He . . ."
Wringing his hands, her husband spoke for her, "Charlie was hit by a car. He didn't make it."
Oh, dear. Their son . . .
"He chased the neighbor kid's ball into the street and ran right into a UPS truck."
Oh. Maybe Charlie was a pet . . .
"We rushed him to the vet but it was too late."
Later, I wondered if the woman would have reacted with as much anguish if her husband had died. Charlie represented, for all intents and purposes, her child.
Can we assume one kind of death is harder to bear than another?