What I have learned doing death clean-up
There are not as many things as I would’ve thought, that have changed or informed my ways of thinking about death. The things I have learned though, are pretty important. My husband and I run a bio-hazard remediation company in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul metro. We both run the day to day, and we both work on scene. I find folks are generally surprised that I work on scene. I’m not sure why, I’ve always assumed it’s because I’m female – I could be wrong.
Death clean-up comes in many forms: natural death, untimely death, delayed discovery, family in the next or same room, after an illness or self-inflicted, amongst others I’m sure I’m missing. We enter when the death resulted in a clean-up – from relatively small to seemingly insurmountable that absolutely no family member, loved one, or friend should ever have to see or clean-up, ever. 100% the reason we exist. It’s traumatizing, it requires a certain skill set, equipment, not to mention: training, insurance, medical waste transport, etc.
It’s meticulous and investigative work. Much like the other work I’ve done in my life, a job that you get better and better at with experience. I’ve been an Esthetician, I’ve tried stand-up comedy, I was a server. I can say with the utmost confidence that I was much better at all of those things with practice. With death clean-up the stakes are high. If you don’t do your job correctly, you could put yourself or others at risk of blood exposure, further traumatization, injury, and a slew of other issues depending on the scene.
Although I can say I’ve never seen the same thing twice, here are some things I feel are important to address when and if possible:
- Keep your important paperwork in a safe or safe place. Don’t make your family dig in the home you died in, to find what they need to get your affairs in order. The best-case scenario is that they ask us to find it, and we have no idea if it’ll be there or where it’ll be.
- Have a will. I’ve seen otherwise agreeable families strained by the weight of decision making on a loved one’s behalf.
- Whenever possible, have funds set aside for the type of end of life celebration you want. Similarly, if you don’t believe it’s necessary, make that known as well. (See above)
- I wish there was a less cliché way to say it: Don’t leave any loose ends. You’ll know what that means to you.
- Please don’t take death into your own hands. 1-800-273-8255. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ https://afsp.org/ https://www.sprc.org/
- Have current homeowners’ insurance. This applies to so much of the unforeseen as it relates to your home.