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.
23687
views

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

Popular Right Now

To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
7578
views

Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

No UNC Residence Hall Is The Same, So I've Provided Pros And Cons For The Top 5 First-Year Halls

Did yours make the cut?

569
views

Residence halls are a big (and sometimes dreaded) part of the first-year experience at UNC-Chapel Hill. Honestly, though, life in the residence halls is nothing to dread. It's not perfect, but it can definitely be fun.

Beyond the convenient proximity of other first-years in the different residence halls, your social life may also benefit from UNC Housing's many community events. You get a lot of community support, too—your RA, your suite-/hallmates, your community director, and hopefully your roommate.

What about the buildings themselves, though? They're definitely not all the same. The following is a definitive list of the best five residence halls for first-years on UNC's campus.

5. Craige

http://reslife.web.unc.edu/2015/06/01/the-view-from-craige/

Pros: This residence hall is suite-style, which means there are four double rooms (i.e. eight residents per suite) and one bathroom—arguably better than sharing a larger bathroom with 20 more residents in a hall-style dorm. More privacy, a better chance of bonding with those seven other students, etc.. If you're interested in UNC basketball (and you should be, honestly), you'll be happy to know this residence hall is right up the road from the Dean Smith Center. It's also nestled into a quaint little grove of trees, which is cute.

Cons: This residence hall is (somewhat affectionately) known as Crusty Craige, and not without reason (according to previous residents). While it is in a nice location, it's still a good trek from main campus—the hill from Craige up to Manning is killer on one side, and that's just the beginning of the walk. Since the residence hall is only six floors high (and is mostly surrounded by short trees), the view isn't as impressive as that of, say, Hinton James' balconies.

4. Lewis

https://conferences.unc.edu/lodging/residence-halls/lewis-residence-hall/

Coming in at number four, Lewis is the only residence hall on this list that isn't located on South Campus.

Pros: This building does have laundry facilities, unlike some of the other residence halls on North Campus. Also, it is a remarkable one-minute walk from the student union and Davis Library, meaning you aren't nearly as likely to get lost during your first week (at least, on your way to the Pit—class buildings are a whole other story). I cannot stress this enough: it is super convenient to live so close to main campus.

Cons: You miss out on the first-year experience of living on South Campus, where most first-years begin their UNC journey. Also, there are typically less than 100 other residents in Lewis, which limits the number of people with whom you can bond during your first year (when you'll likely be the most focused on building your college network). That also means less RAs and smaller hall events. Also, it's a hall-style residence hall (this is a debatable con, though, since some people would definitely prefer hall-style over suite-style).

3. Koury

https://unc.freshu.io/melissa-cordell-751/best-freshmen-dorm-to-live-in

Pros: Koury is pretty close to the SASB buildings, which are full of great resources for first-years (namely the Learning and Writing Centers, where you can receive free tutoring, academic coaching, and feedback on your essays). There are internal suites, which means that only three other residents will be sharing a bathroom with you. This means you can furnish the bathroom with whatever rugs or trash cans you prefer, and you have a lot more privacy than in other residence halls, as far as the bathroom goes.

Cons: Since the bathroom is between the two double bedrooms, you have to clean the bathroom yourself, as well as provide your own toilet paper—the flip side of enhanced privacy is that you don't get custodial services. Also, with the internal suites, sometimes it can be more difficult to socialize with other people on the hall (although your RA is there to solve that problem!). Lastly, if you walk out of your room and forget your key, you're locked out—the door locks automatically upon shutting.

2. Hinton James

https://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2017/07/hinton-james-leaves-a-legend-and-a-legacy-in-uncs-most-populated-dorm

Maybe I'm biased—Hojo was my own first-year res hall. I'm sure someone will fight me on this, but I really enjoyed living there.

Pros: There are tons of people, which means there's a good chance you'll find some friends near your room. It's a suite-style dorm, so obviously, the suite-style advantages of Craige apply here as well. Also, there is a package center located on the first floor, so you don't have to trek to some other residence hall to pick up your latest Amazon orders. There's a huge staff of really fun RAs, which means there's always someone around with whom you can talk about any problems or concerns you may have. The view from the balconies isn't bad, either.

Cons: I encountered a roach once. Also, again, there are a lot of people in Hojo, so sometimes it's kind of loud. Not ideal if you prefer studying (or sleeping) in total silence. Lastly—and perhaps most annoyingly—this is the furthest residence hall from main campus (and therefore your classes). It's about a fifteen-minute walk to the Pit...doable, but aggravating after a while. On the bright side, it's close to several bus stops.

1. The Winner: Ehringhaus

http://reslife.web.unc.edu/2015/06/23/the-view-from-ehringhaus/

This residence hall is right behind Koury, so a lot of the location-based advantages/disadvantages still apply.

Pros: There's a bus stop literally right out front, there aren't a ridiculous number of residents (so it isn't super loud or anything), and it's suite-style. As if that isn't enough, you only have to cross the road once outside the residence hall if you're walking to class (and trust me, crossing Manning/Skipper Bowles/Ridge is a whole experience). Additionally, this residence hall is one of the closest to Subway and Rams Market.

Cons: The pronunciation isn't always agreed upon by incoming students (but by all accounts I've heard, it's pronounced like "Air-ing-house," you're welcome). Also, it's kind of far from class buildings (like a 12-minute walk from the Pit).

Really, the cons aren't bad at all. This residence hall offers all of the community excitement of Hinton James but is slightly calmer and closer to main campus. That, coupled with the fulfillment of the crucial first-year experience of living on south campus, puts Ehringhaus at number one in my book.

I think the south campus residence halls are inherently better than the north campus ones just because the daily 15-minute trek to class is practically a rite of passage for UNC first-years. That said, all of the residence halls have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and you can have an awesome first year no matter where you live.

For more information on each residence hall, I'd recommend scouring https://housing.unc.edu/housing/residence-halls. Welcome to UNC, kiddos!

Related Content

Facebook Comments