November 5, 1999

Where Words Fail

One reason we tell stories is to explain things to ourselves that cannot, in the end, always be explained. When someone we're close to dies, we struggle for a way to get our minds around the fact of their absence. And often—the stories we invent aren't quite up to the job. In this week's show, people struggle to invent words adequate to cope with death.


Reporter Mark Arax spent three years investigating the murder of his father and yet he's still not at peace when he thinks of his dad's death. (His book is called In My Father's Name: A Family, a Town, a Murder.) This is how it goes sometimes. We create a story that tries to explain our lives, and it still leaves so much unanswered. (6 minutes)
Act Three

Take My Wife, Please

Some of us have tragedy thrust upon us. Some of us allow ourselves a few moments to contemplate the worst that could happen. And some of us choose to think about the worst that can befall our families all the time. But is that good for you? Julie Snyder discusses this with her brother Tom, who plans obsessively for the deaths of each member of their family. (10 minutes)