Coroner: (n) one who investigates deaths

Then there’s the joke.

“I went to the morgue to see the body. I asked the receptionist where I might find the corpse. She pointed to her right and replied, ‘Just around the coroner.’”

(I didn’t say it was a funny joke.)

But when you talk about things like the coroner, you have to use some humor. A little tongue-in-cheek is helpful.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I have personally dealt with an actual coroner only once in my life. My son, who had been involved in a hit-and-run accident six years earlier, which had left him in a vegetative state, suddenly developed pneumonia and died in about a four-hour period.

We were in the state of Oregon, and according to their statues, anybody who dies that quickly has to be observed by a coroner and have an autopsy.

I probably should have looked up “coroner” and found out what was involved with the profession, but there was no Internet at that time and my encyclopedias were packed away back home, two thousand miles away. So I entered into the whole situation very ignorant.

He was a nice enough fellow—just creepy enough to fulfill the parameters of the occupation. I was emotionally disturbed from the death of my son, so I began to yammer without much awareness, trying to explain to the gentleman some of the extent of my loss. In doing so, I offered a very child-like request. “Please be gentle with him. He’s been through a lot.”

I remember the look on the chap’s face—a combination of tenderness, surprise, confusion and mercy. For after all, he had already done the autopsy and chopped my young son into many pieces.

Fortunately, I didn’t think of that in the moment. I was granted a blessed ignorance, and a bit of grace, by a man who had to deal with death every day and realized that I would not benefit from any further understanding of his plight.

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Autopsy: (n) a postmortem examination to discover the cause of death or the extent of disease.

The State of Washington demanded that an autopsy be performed on anyone who died suddenly.dictionary with letter A

It’s a good rule.

But when my thirteen-year-old child passed away from viral pneumonia and we were touring through the state, it seemed arduous, painful and intrusive.

My son’s name was Joshua. He had been hit and run by a car six years earlier, leaving him with a severe brain injury, in a vegetative state.

No one is ever ready for such a responsibility.

We did our best–but after six years, his body began to wear out, giving up its purpose.

Perhaps better care givers could have sustained his inertia, but when he developed pneumonia, the doctors suggested we refrain from heroic measures and let nature take its course.

Given only antibiotics and fluids, he passed away in less than twelve hours.

The State of Washington was not suspicious of our care. The autopsy was just a necessary step to confirm the absence of foul play.

Three weeks later, after Joshie was long entombed, I received the coroner’s report in the mail.

It was fascinating.

It told a story we did not know.

It told us about a little boy who was fatally struck down in the street and possibly should have gone on to his Maker that evening, but because of the advances of medicine, was able to be sustained without being healed.

His brain showed no signs of cognitive activity and his little body was wracked with the evidence of much pain. His organs had shrunk and he was more or less a living experiment.

My mind flashed back to the six years we carried him around, whispered in his ears, hugged him, kissed his face and desperately tried to feed nourishment into his body.

Was he aware of any of it?

Was there any spirit left to retrieve kindness?

I don’t know.

For you see, an autopsy doesn’t report that. 

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