Sometimes people lose their minds. Reactions can range from literal heart attacks to (I wish I was making this up) lighting themselves on fire. In my own experience, the most heartbreaking incident happened when a soldier's wife wasn't home. Her young son, who couldn't have been older than ten, answered the door. Realizing why we were there, he bolted the door and ran to his room. We had to wait outside until the wife got back, and it tore us apart that we couldn't do anything for the boy as we delivered the news to his mother outside.
Another time, we arrived during the setup for a party. The family was planning on this soldier arriving home later that week, and were decorating the living room as we showed up to the door. Some friends opened up and asked us if we were there with the soldier, thinking he'd come home early. We had to inform the family of the man's death in front of his friends, too.
Delivering this kind of news is already tragically uncomfortable without ill-timed streamers and party hats getting involved.
But then there are the bafflingly callous reactions. If you think it's hard watching someone have a grief-stricken meltdown in front of you, imagine having a soldier's wife respond, "Good. Glad he's gone. Get the fuck out of my house." I've heard other officers tell stories of families who were only interested in a soldier's life insurance. I'll never know the full story, of course, about how their relationship got that way. It's not my job to understand.