Sunday, September 12, 2010

Call of Duty

I had my first death case last night.  I never worked American Citizen Services when I was in Riyadh, so the only way I will get this sort of consular case now is if I'm the after-hours duty officer.  I don't know how ACS officers do it full time...  it was heart-wrenching to have to discuss with family the transportation of their love one's remains, when three hours before their lives had just collapsed.  At one point, one family member just broke down crying on my shoulder.  I wanted to cry, too, but the family needed a calm voice more than they needed someone else sobbing.

I'm torn between grieving for this family and being incredibly proud that this is what I do.  At the most basic level, our mission is to help American citizens in need.  When I got the call at 9.30 last night, I was the only person in this huge, strange city the family knew.  I'm so glad that I was able to help them in a small way.

8 comments:

  1. It takes a special heart to handle that sort of situation. It's hard enough to lose a loved one, but when this happens away from home .. the family is completely separated from everything that gives them foundation. ((((hugs)))) to you for being there when that family needed you. It's not 'just a job'.

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  2. What a horrible situation for that family. I am so glad that you were there and able to help them.

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  3. My heart breaks for the family. I'm so proud of you for handling it in such a loving way.

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  4. Oh my GOSH, hannah. I just can't even imagine. That's just so heartbreaking.

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  5. how tragic. Sounds like you handled it with grace.

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  6. OMG how'd I miss this post? So sad, and I agree with Bf about how you handled it. A childhood friend of mine was found dead on the subway in Korea (health-related), and from what I remember, the conversations with the embassey were painful for the family, and they thought it was a hoax :-(

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  7. I've found that the most rewarding moments in my tour were being able to call American family members after their loved ones were located following the civil unrest we had here.

    It made me appreciate the joys and challenges of being a Consular Officer!

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  8. Definitely the suckiest part of CONS. Somebody has to do it and that somebody needs to do it right. Glad you were there to help.

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