Via TaxProf Blog: Few sorrows linger longer than the death of a son or daughter.

A story by Martha Neil in the American Bar Association Journal shows that the tragedy can be compounded by financial hardship if that child has incurred student loan debt.

If a student loan borrower is unable to repay the money because he or she dies, that’s the end of the story, not only for the lender but the Internal Revenue Service, too.

If the borrower is the parent of the deceased student, however, that’s a different story. And Regina Friend can tell it from personal experience, the Baltimore Sun reports.

After the suicide last year of her son, who was a student at Temple University, both his student loans and the $55,400 she took out in ParentPlus debt were forgiven. But Friend was shocked this year to find out that the IRS expects her to pay a $14,000 tax bill because the forgiven debt is counted as personal income.

Friend doesn’t have the money to pay that amount, and her tax preparer has applied for a filing extension, until Oct. 15. However, penalties for underpaid tax will accrue in the meantime, and, while she can presumably enter into a payment plan, she doesn’t look forward to being reminded of her son’s death every month when she writes a check for the tax bill, the Sun article explains.

If a taxpayer can prove he or she simply doesn’t have the money, the IRS may eventually forgive the debt after a decade, according to experts. But a more likely scenario for Friend, says financial planner Lyle K. Benson of Towson, Md., is to negotiate with the IRS to try to reach a compromise amount.

Discussing this story in Forbes Magazine, Robert W. Wood, expands upon similar situations in which the parents co-signed the loan.

But joint or co-signed debt—such as where a parent signs with a child—is different. And it isn’t uncommon. The U.S. Department of Education canceled $2.7 billion in student loans in 2011 because borrowers died, became disabled or went bankrupt.

In some cases, the parents of deceased students are on the hook, as where the parents were co-signers. Is this tax and personal nightmare common? Francisco Reynoso, a gardener earning $21,000 annually, was stuck with his son’s private student loan debt after he died. Amanda Greenhalgh’s death also triggered taxes to her New Jersey family.