Sometimes it Sucks to be a Writer

I write for a community newspaper. I mostly write civic-type news and some occasional sports and human interest stories. What I hate writing is about people who have died.

I remember reading all of the follow up stories after 9/11. At the time I read the WSJ daily (had a corporate job then) and even they did a wide-range of human interest-type stories about what happened, linking together last-minute phone call conversations with when floors and ultimately buildings collapsed. I remember crying on the train on the way into the city.

I got flashbacks of this when recently a the passenger train collided with a freight train causing the largest train tragedy in the nation for many, many years. I on-purpose avoided reading many of the stories in the paper. I just couldn’t bear it.

Today I had to write a story about a benefit event some local businesses are putting on for one of the local businesses owners who died in the crash. I performed my requisite research and conducted interviews learning about the legacy and family he left behind. I learned about their three special needs children — how they adopted their child’s best friend who has cerebral palsy; I learned about how their business volunteered tons of time at elementary schools; I learned how he was married for 23 years.

I learned about how these people were certifiable saints. And, how local businesses were banning together to help.

I should feel really good, I’m doing a good thing by reporting this, right? But, I don’t. I just feel awful. I don’t know how people can regularly report on world news, especially all the horrible stories from places like Iraq, Iran, Darfur, etc. where tragedy happens daily if not hourly.