(Author’s Note: If you have not read the first articles in this series, I would encourage you to check them out here before reading this post.)
In this session of Chaplain’s Class, we will continue to outline some guiding principles and procedures for performing a death notification. If you remember from our previous sessions, everyone in every circumstance deserves, at the very least, the dignity of receiving the worst possible news with compassion.
[quote_box author=”” profession=””]Chaplain, how do you manage compassion for someone who is seemingly unreceptive to the news?[/quote_box]
As you might expect, no one is really receptive to the news that his or her loved one has died. You may put yourself in that situation, if you have not already faced this very scenario in your own life. We will all receive the dreaded news that a loved one has died, but the circumstances are always different. It often depends on how the loved one died. In some situations you will be dispatched to perform the death notification to someone with a terminally ill loved one. The notification will not come as a complete shock in most situations like this, but it will still require patience, understanding, and compassion.
In many situations, however, when a Death Notification Team is dispatched it will involve a tragic, often premature death such as a car accident. The team could be dispatched to a home in order to inform a teenager’s parents that their child has been killed in a car accident. Oftentimes, they will want to ignore what you just said. They may be unwilling to believe that the accident was even possible, much less that it has actually happened. The parents could become combative and angry or inconsolable. They may crawl into a shell and ignore your presence.
If we further complicate this scenario with the presence of alcohol or some other intoxicant, then the responses can be even more volatile. The parents may begin to blame themselves because they had alcohol in the home. They could be just as crazed if they were not alcohol consumers and want to know where and how their underage driver obtained the alcohol. Another scenario might be that a family is estranged and could not or would not make this notification on their own. They will no doubt send out the local authorities to do so. In this type of situation, the responses will range from the most traumatic to the most volatile because of the estrangement.
With as many scenarios as we might conjure, there will be as many unique responses. My encouragement is that you journal your experiences and call on what you learn when the situations arise. I implore that you must teach yourself to be prepared for anything, just as if you are answering a criminal complaint call. Try to imagine how you might feel if you were put into a similar situation and receiving the traumatic news. Naturally, you would hope beyond all hope that this is a nightmare, a dream, a terrible prank or joke. You will want it to be anything other than what the reality is.
When you are able to walk alongside someone through these darkest moments in life and have some empathy, then you are living a life of compassion. You will be blessed for doing so, and a mild by-product will be that your agency will be praised for being so much more than the ticket-writers.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
Those are just a few things that could generally describe Bergen Mease. However, more importantly he is a Believer in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. He is a patriot of the United States of America that comes from a US Navy family. He lives with his wife and children, whom they are raising with conservative leanings. He served as a law enforcement officer and more recently as a law enforcement and emergency services Chaplain. His mission is to write about topics that will make everyone think about how they treat others both personally and professionally.