Listening and having a heart
This story is a little long and really sad; so fair warning.
I was a car insurance service agent for a big insurer in the US (disabled now) so I handled about 100 calls a day. One of the calls that will stick with me for the rest of my life is about this poor woman.
I took a transfer call from my company’s claims department and the adjuster advised that there had been a massive accident where someone on the policy had been killed. Originally the other insurance company had advised that it was the policyholder who was killed. Once advised that there was a fatality; the policy was changed into the daughter’s name as she was the sole remaining driver of the other vehicle on the policy. The adjuster had called the number on the policy to discuss the claim with the daughter and what would be happening to the policy going forward. When the phone was picked up and the adjuster asked for the daughter the person on the phone started crying saying she had been killed a couple of days before. The adjuster asked who she was speaking to and the person said it was the mother; as in the policyholder. Come to find out the other insurance company had given us the wrong info as it was the daughter who had been killed not the mother.
Claims can’t change the policy back, it was something that a service agent would have to do so the call was transferred to me. The claims agent explained what happened and left notes as well. I took over the call and first gave my condolences and apologized for the error. The Mother was very kind about it all but she honestly seemed to still be in shock. While I was fixing the policy I was just chatting with her and she began sobbing again and she said that her whole family was dead. She told me that her brother had died from a stroke 7 months prior, her sister died of cancer 6 months prior, her husband died of a heart attack 3 months prior and now her daughter was killed by a drunk driver a block from her home. I could tell that she desperately needed to talk to someone and needed to be listened to. At that point, I messaged my supervisor, put myself on aux in case the call dropped, and just listened. She was telling me all these stories about her family, and her husband and daughter especially.
By then I had fixed the policy and added every discount I could find and did absolutely everything I could do to lower her premium and buy her time on the bills so she didn’t have to worry about it while she dealt with her daughter’s death. I ended up staying on the phone with her for over 2 hours just listening. She had me in tears a couple of times because of how sad the whole situation was. She eventually thanked me for listening and hung up. I definitely needed a break after that call.
About a week later a letter arrived addressed for me. The letter was from this lady and in the letter, she had written that she was so devastated by all the loss especially with how her daughter had died that she had planned on killing herself. My having taken the time to just listen to her, at the cost of my stats, showed her that there was still hope, and that good people were out there that would listen and support her while she grieved. Because of that, she didn’t kill herself and she wanted to reach out to thank me for helping her. I had no idea that she was suicidal but I’m glad that she changed her mind simply because I took the time to listen to her.