What It's Really Like Being A Death Investigator

What It's Really Like Being A Death Investigator

It’s the worst day of your life, and it’s my Tuesday.
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I meet people— a lot of people— on the worst day of their life. It’s the worst day of your life, and it’s my Tuesday. And my job is to get you through it.

OK, so technically my job is to investigate a death, but really, I’m there for you. I show up to work every day and deal with horrific things just on the off chance that someone tells me, “Thank you. You really helped me today.” I can’t describe the gratitude that accompanies a simple thank you from a grieving family member. I know you won't remember my name. Hell, you probably won't even remember the day. But if you remember that I made you calm; that I didn't break you into a thousand more pieces than you thought you'd ever fracture into, then I've done my job. I think anyone I work with would say the same. We wouldn't show up otherwise. When people say they don't know how I do this job, that's what I tell them. We do it for you.

My job is not glamorous. It’s not like CSI, and it’s not always “cool.” It’s heartbreaking. It’s dirty. It’s frustrating. Do I see some cool shit? Yeah, absolutely. And every time I see some cool shit, I have to pretend they didn't mean a thing to a single soul. If I remember they mattered to someone, then I lose my shit, and I'm no good to anyone.

I see everything from grandma with lung cancer to an unidentified with her throat slit. I see everything from the heroin addicts to the suicidal. I have seen natural deaths, accidental deaths, suicidal deaths, and homicidal deaths.

My whole world is reduced to the living and the dead…and honestly, the longer you live with the dead, the harder it is to return to the living.

I eat too much. I drink too much. I’ve built up walls I spend a lot of time reframing. Every time someone chips away at that wall; when one death hits me just the right way to knock a brick loose, I have to spend time repairing it. I have to put up that wall again, because if I don’t, I will lose my mind.

I will lose my mind because you lost your mom, or your brother, or your son. I can’t let this job get to me, or I can’t help you. So while I will be compassionate, patient, and understanding with you, I may also seem at other times dispassionate, impatient, and aloof.

I compartmentalize because I have to. We make jokes because we have to. Nine times out of ten, we're laughing. Few topics are off limits and even fewer jokes are. Like I said, I know it's the worst day of your life. The problem is, it's still not the worst day of mine. In fact, I'm probably in the middle of my week, stressed as all hell by the million other things waiting for me back at the office, and your dead loved one really put a kink in my plans for today. I say this out of necessity because this is how I survive waiting from day to day, doing this job.

I will not do this job forever. I always planned for it to have an expiration date. As it is, there's a 50/50 chance I know someone who knows someone. The other 50% of the time? I'm waiting for the ones I love most. My dad, my mom, the overdoses, the suicides, and the motor vehicle accidents. It's a constant game of, "What's the last name?"

I can't express to you how exhausting that is. It's picking up babies that should have lived another 80 years and men and women who flat out gave up. It's looking at men and women whose lives were ripped from them, whether it was through their own actions or not. It is seeing the worst of humanity, every single day, and coming back. It is seeing the worst thing someone can do to another human being, and taking those small moments of pure humanity and gratitude as payment.

We don't get paid enough for what we do. I can barely afford my life. I'm not the perfect employee, but I'm good with you. I have moments of doubt, but I wouldn't trade a single moment of my job for a second.

I'll admit I can't do this job forever, not without losing myself. I can feel my walls cracking slowly. I've only got a few more years of this left in me. Still, I know even then, I will continue to help people in my career. It's in my blood. But just know that I'll cherish every second of every interaction I've had. I pray for you all, and your loved ones, every night. Just know that. Long after you've forgotten me, I'll always remember you.

Cover Image Credit: Mary Smith

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Yeah, I'm A Confrontational Woman, And It Scares The Sh*t Out Of People

Honestly, I just know what I want and won't settle for less.

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The look that I get from others when I say exactly what's on my mind will never get old. The shocked, open-mouthed, dumbfounded look. I can't help that I'm an honest person. I tell it how it is. I don't settle for anything less than what I deserve. Overall, though, I don't put up with no shit.

Since I have started school, I have realized how many passive aggressive people surround me on a daily basis. The kind of people who don't say a single thing, but boy, they're thinking it. I don't understand this.

Ever since I can remember, I have always been a pretty blunt person. If I want something done or don't like how something is, I say something. That's just how I have always been. In high school, I got the occasional weird look or nasty glare because of this, but in college, it's a whole different ballpark.

Day after day in college, I witness some pretty ridiculous things. Like, seriously. Ludicrous.

People accept the wrong meals at restaurants.

People don't correct prices for things they are purchasing.

People let people do literally anything to them, and it bugs me.

I'll never understand this. (The whole accepting the wrong food thing especially! I could never.)

I guess I could understand people being afraid of public speaking, or if they feel as if they're embarrassing themselves, but you just gotta get what you deserve in life, and nothing will change my mind on that. It's not that hard to ask a waitress for your correct meal. I know, I was a waitress.

Another thing I have realized from being a confrontational person is how much guys hate it. At least, the guys I have been with have. It's a big maturity thing in relationships. I'm the type of person who likes to tackle issues as soon as they come up, but the majority of guys I have talked to like to ignore them for the most part.

Sure, if you don't talk about it, it will go away.

That always works.

Basically, I'm just sick and tired of being called "rude" or "mean" every time I stand up for what I believe in or speak my mind on something that bothers me.

I'm not attacking anyone who lives the passive aggressive lifestyle of course. All I'm saying is I'm gonna keep on doing exactly what I'm doing, and if you have a problem with it, I already know you won't say anything to me.

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