(Author’s Note: If you have not read the previous articles in this series, you can check them out here.)
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.
Before we focus on what responses might be encountered, we need to discuss the sworn officer’s role as the Chaplain is delivering the oral message. The officer, in the observer’s role, is to evaluate the landscape of the situation.
The officer should look for any weapons that might be lying about. The last thing anyone wants is for a distraught family member to take action toward ending their own life. In so doing, the tragedy would be multiplied to perhaps include the Death Notification Team as well as anyone else present. If you think this might be paranoia speaking, then so be it, call me paranoid. However, all anyone must do is pick up the newspaper or watch the television news and there will often be stories similar to this scenario. It is certainly conceivable in the least.
The officer should also observe for any medications, illicit drugs, or paraphernalia visible that could result in a delayed response to receiving the news or in processing the notification of the death. The chaplain delivers the dreaded news; the officer observes the pharmaceuticals and ignores them. The next day or in the next several days this Death Notification Team could be delivering a similar message to another next of kin in this family.
The team is not perfect; not every situation or scenario can be foreseen, but please listen and learn from my experience on this topic. The unimaginable often happens, but in the midst of the unfortunate tragedy we learn.
I have witnessed family members presenting the appearance of grief but acceptance, turn around and be absent from the funeral because they decided to take their own life before the deceased’s service.
I have encountered parents receiving the news, face the grief, plan the funeral, and not show up because the father decided to kill his wife and then himself because he could not bear the grief of the loss of a child. Was it foreseeable? Perhaps, but usually not predictable and certainly not what ordinary people expect.
Expect the unexpected even in these seemingly mundane appointments.
In our next Chaplain’s Class we will continue our Death Notification training with a discussion on people who are unreceptive to the news.
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.