With our current situation of Covid-19, there is less face to face time with families, leaving families with less information than ever before when it comes to caring for families facing Biohazards left behind after a death.
Biohazards are not a topic the average family thinks about. While those of us who are closer to the industry may be forced to deal such issues, due to the nature of what we do, but family’s members are unaware. This is true in the funeral industry as much as it was when I worked in law enforcement.
Sadly, after working in law enforcement for over three decades, I noticed time and again, families are oblivious to what is left behind after a suicide, homicide or unattended death. Family members either do not realized what the condition of the home may be like or think that law enforcement cleans it. It is only after families enter a home that they encounter the biohazards, which then becomes the lasting memory of the loved one.
It is the same in the funeral industry. The truth is, Funeral Directors generally know how a person died. In cases where the person committed suicide, was a victim of a homicide or any death that was unattended for a period in a residence – It’s likely that THERE IS a biohazard condition. You know it and I know it, but does the family know it? No, they likely do not. It’s not something they’re trained to think about like we are, nor are they emotionally able to think about it. They’re grieving and dealing with the loss of a loved one.
I have spoken with many Funeral directors and many have they have told me that they have not ever encounter a family needed the service. After further inquiries, lead me to understand that most staff members wait until the family ‘ask’ about it. My goal is to find a way to warn/alert families to prepare them and you are the key. Many times, there are items in the home needed by your facility, clothing, insurance papers, wills. This causes the families to have to unknowingly be faced with the remnants from the death.
I was speaking with a Funeral Director who has been in the business for many years. We concluded that the problem was the situation seldom occurs and it is difficult for staff to think about it. He then determined his solution would be to add the subject to their checklist. This will remind staff members to consider the manner and location of death. Thus, being able to gently bring it to the family’s attention. It’s common practice for many Funeral Directors to assist families in many areas such as floral arrangements, Pastor, along with the little things, number of Death certificates, canceling the newspaper, pensions, and insurance. In this same manner, the family may need to be directed toward biohazard services. Who else will have the knowledge and care to advise them on a subject so few are educated on?
By adding biohazards to your checklist when the need applies, Funeral Directors may save families from later traumatic stress that can occur following the death of a loved one. Addressing biohazard clean-up will allow a family to move forward after the death of their loved one in a home, free from the biohazards that were left behind. We owe them the dignity and respect to tell them.
Funeral Directors can also rest assured that these services are provided with care and confidentiality. Companies like ours are 100% OSHA compliant, holding industry certifications and many of us have backgrounds in law enforcement, medical careers or are firefighters.
Thank you to everyone in the funeral industry, each of you make the passing of a loved one, a little easier to handle and process.
Eddie Reeser, Retired Chief of Police
Business Development Representative of Law Enforcement Relations