They die. Whether you get the phone call or read it in the paper, the customer that you had a lasting relationship with has passed away. You will probably attend the funeral or at the very least send flowers.
I remember the first customer of mine that passed away. I actually read about it in the paper and attended the funeral. That was probably 8 or 9 years ago and there have been many since then. I started keeping a file with obituaries and mark their file in my Palm Centro with the appropriate information.
I think the toughest one to date was Craig A. I met Craig and Toni as they drove through my neighborhood looking for a home for their handicapped daughter. We met & I showed them some homes and found the perfect one and the rest is history. Craig was a CPA as was Toni and after that they became my CPA. They were very good at what they did and as a result I referred them several clients. I always looked forward to the annual visits but there were the times running to each other at the store or other places. Craig lost his bout with Cancer and of course I attended the funeral and in fact I will never forget it. It was truly one of those "celebrations of life" rather than a sad funeral. Now Toni does my taxes and I still look forward to my annual visit as well as the "bump ins" at the store, etc.
I read the paper/obituary section with a certain amount of anxiety now. I have actually found out about many of their deaths this way but I am grateful so I can send flowers or attend the funeral but it never gets easier. These are my clients but more importantly they are my friends. I am witness to their ups and downs, births of children and grandchildren and of course their deaths. If someone had told me years ago when I first got into the business that this would happen, I would more than likely have blown them off but it's true, this is very much a part of the business as it is our own lives. That doesn't make it any easier but I realize now that it is a part of being a successful agent/Realtor® and it's one that I take very seriously so if this has not yet happened to you, just wait, it will but I hope you will take the time to attend the funeral or send flowers and remember to talk to or visit the spouse or other family member after they have had time to grieve. I know they will appreciate you for it. Remember they consider you a friend as well.