I learned that within many credit companies, there are separate departments (often referred to as the "Estate Division") that handle closing accounts for deceased card holders. This is quite possibly the best idea ever. Not only do these customer service specialists (so to speak) know their stuff when it comes to closing accounts for real (there is nothing more infuriating than finding out an account you requested closed five years ago is still wrecking havoc on your credit report), but they also know how to talk to other human beings. They apologize, sincerely, for your loss and do everything they can to make the process easy, finite, and quick. (It's amazing how little patience I have for sympathy from strangers when I'm trying to take care of business. Maybe not so much amazing as sad, but whateves.)
However, the general customer service reps do not seem to know what to do when they get a question outside their purview; in other words, they pretty much shut down and turn into blubbering messes when they have to deal with something unpleasant...and not readily available in their binder of scripts. Not only was I asked why I wanted to close my account and "Did [I] know about all the benefits of being a (insert company here) card holder?" AFTER I had already informed them that my mom, the card holder, had passed away, but they also kept calling me "Mrs. Aldridge." Insult, meet injury.
I know that customer service people are a special breed and deserve all the cupcakes in the world for the verbal abuse they fall victim to on a daily basis, but sometimes (and I think that applies to us all, really) you just have to throw out the script, remember that you're talking to a human being, and be willing to connect.
I mean, it's not like you're face-to-face. Now THAT is cause for a full-blown come-apart.