Dying Laughing Blog


He was her Golden Retriever puppy

Even the most tragic of passings can be eased via laughter. One client was grief-stricken beyond words when she tried to tell me about her lover’s death from a drug overdose. She was 27 at the time; he was 30. What could be more tragic than that? Nothing. At least, not when you dwell on the circumstances of a death to the exclusion of all else. We’ll call the young woman Rosie and her companion Jim. (The privacy of all clients on www.ThePrecis.com is rigorously respected, so real names are withheld.)

And no, they were not married, just planning to be.

Because Jim had been married before, his family didn’t cater to Rosie, so much so that they eliminated her from his obituary and refused to invite her to their son’s services. Terribly hurt, Rosie decided to stage her own service and write Jim’s obituary (his second) herself. That’s where I came into the picture—and Rosie experienced a mental block. She suddenly couldn’t recall anything meaningful about Jim, other than the way he died and how his family had shunned her.

“He had been clean for almost two years,” she sobbed over the phone. “And then he relapsed. One of his old friends stopped by, and I had this horrible feeling…”

“Ok,” I said. “Let’s go back to how you met.”


The tale was almost Romeo-and-Juliet-like, about a divorced young man undergoing outpatient rehabilitation for cocaine use and closely monitored by his parents. And a free-spirited young woman, a vegetarian who raised and trained Golden Retriever puppies for sale. In a way, Jim became her Golden Retriever puppy, a man who needed to unlearn bad habits and relearn how to exercise, eat right, live, love, and laugh. But the move to Rosie’s cabin, some 30 miles away from his home, was too much for his family.

Oh, yes, how they met. Rosie happened to be delivering a puppy to a neighbor of Jim’s family when he was outside watering the front lawn. Seeing the dog cuddled in Rosie’s arms brought a grin to his face, one that instantly changed when the puppy squirmed, trying to get free. Rushing to help, Jim quickly contained the pup, looked into Rosie’s beautiful aqua-green eyes, and that was that. Text messages led to phone calls, Jim telling Rosie of his anguish, how his parents kept him nearly a prisoner. And so they planned his escape.

“He literally climbed out his bedroom window,” Rosie said, starting to laugh. “I even had my VW engine running as he ran toward the car…”

From there, her stories were hilarious, how, for the next two years, Jim helped her train the puppies; how she helped train him. When his nervous pacing indicated his need for drugs, she would say, “SIT!” And so he did. When he grew depressed, she bent her cheek to his lips and said, “KISS!” Knowing his favorite command, “FETCH!” she would retrieve his football and run outside, waiting for him to follow. Jim’s innate sense of humor helped. He knew the drill and always grinned and went along, whispering a grateful “Thank you, darling.”

He was also a natural with animals and wanted to extend the business to other breeds. But they needed more space. A “wealthy” friend of his might back their efforts, he told Rosie. The “friend” turned out to be his former drug dealer, who laced Jim’s cocaine with Fentanyl. Rosie needn’t have told me that Jim would have rehabbed and stayed clean after that. He died before the ambulance reached the hospital.

The object of the story is how delightful and funny Rosie’s obituary turned out. Her eulogy had her audience laughing their heads off. True, Rosie never got her larger property—at least not yet—but the most positive aspect may have been when Jim’s family invited her to dinner and congratulated her on writing the “magnificent” obit about their son.