Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Arguing with the Coroner

I have an internal argument raging over whether to post this or not.  If you're seeing it, obviously the pro-posting side won.

Longer-term followers of this blog know that my sister-in-law left us a few months back (when it was cold and humid, as opposed to oppressively hot and humid).  It has taken the coroner's office these months to make up their mind as to their decision.

My wife, regardless of how many episodes of CSI she has seen, developed a theory of what happened to her sister.  A theory I believe to be quite correct: everything fits neatly.

Today my wife spoke with the coroner's office about their final verdict.  The death was ruled a suicide.  Well, at least it was by the aforementioned coroner.  My wife, however, had a different idea.

A part of me almost felt sorry for the coroner, whose job it is to deliver horrible news to grieving people every day.  Politely but firmly, my wife explained to this seemingly seasoned professional that she was mistaken.

What, you ask, is the extent of my wife's education in the post-mortem sciences?  Err.. `not more than she learned being a nurse' would be the answer.

To be fair, the coroner struggled with this decision, which is why it took months.

It's just that my wife knows better.  No offense to the professionals on the case, but my wife knew the decedent.  She took the entire scene into account, pieced together what appeared to be a very accurate timeline, and came to a conclusion.  The coroner only knew what she gleaned from her medical exam.

If I saw what the coroner saw, I'd probably have ruled as she did.  There was no doubt a ton of prescription pharmaceuticals in that body.  Probably more than most normal people could tolerate and continue breathing.  Fortunately or unfortunately, this person wasn't normal.  We frequently observed her taking huge quantities of her own meds with little effect, other than looking stupid.  We also saw her suicidal.

And that is the crux of the biscuit, as agreed upon by her children and my wife; the people who knew her best.   She got up early, picked up her meds and some food, ate too many pills, then fell, hitting her head and bleeding out.  Not a suicide.

But, according to the letter of the law, a suicide.


  1. I'm sorry for your loss. The phamaceutical industry, even more than banks, wall street, and president giveaway's cesspool economy, are, in my mind, responsible for an enormous amount of grief and lamentation in today's society. Seems as though your wife's assessment is the valid one.

  2. Sucks to die that way no matter how you look at it. :(