Monday, May 14, 2007

Don't fear the reaper

This last time year I was lucky enough to have navigated the course of my life without having seen a dead body.

In the space of just over two months I've now seen four.

We get called out occasionally to what are known as 'sudden deaths'.

SD's are, from a police point of view, where a death occurs out of the care of the medical profession and is unexpected. A police officer will attend after the paramedics to give the bodies a cursory check to make sure that there are no suspicious circumstances. Next you fill out a Death Reported form, which is a checklist of questions you have to ensure you ask the next of kin attending, whatever stage of grief they may be at. It's delicate balance finding the right tone sometimes.

Before I stated this job I thought the sight of the bodies may stay with me, but I'm surprised in myself that this does not appear to have been the case. I can attend, be sympathetic and do the necessaries. But part of me manages to stay a little... Disconnected.

Maybe it's the fact that the bodies I've seen this far have all been old. They've generally died in their sleep. They've seen a good innings.

Question is though, how will I react when faced with someone cut down in their prime?


Roses said...

I think that it has helped knowing that the people you've attended have been old and therefore have had a good bowl at the wicket (to keep with your cricketing metaphors).

Dispassionate and professional in these circumstances are important. The bereaved don't need you falling apart as well - that's their right. You doing your job gives them a sense of security.

As for how you'll feel when confronted with a younger person or a child, you won't know until it happens, and much will depend on the circumstances. But you'll know what you need to do for your job; and afterwards, you've got us to call upon if it gets rough.

Inspector Monkfish said...

Yes... You won't know until it happens. Certainly, I think the mind can do a remarkable job of... separation sometimes.

I often encountered it in "serious" conversations with Mrs M, for example. You knew what you had to say, and all the emotion got turned off to deal with the saying/discussing of it.

I guess a lot of it is in the preparation... At least in general you always know why you're going to these things and have that bit of time to mentally & emotionally prepare yourself as best you are able.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Rose. and by the way, just another step in the whole ladder of who you were when I... and who you are now.
thanks again for all the good wishes on my front, by the by
The Yank