No one wants to receive bad news, but death is an unfortunate part of life. When a loved one dies during their time in the military, in a hospital or through an assorted circumstance, it’s crucial to break the news in the most appropriate way possible. Death notice’s are a universal need and as such there is a carefully constructed and planned policy in follow. In this article we will discuss what a death notice is and the practice of delivering one within the military, within a hospital, and some universal guidelines.
What is a Death Notification?
A death notice is a message informing someone else that someone has passed away. The moment someone learns of someone’s death is the exact definition of this service. There are many tasks involved in the notification of a death process and they must all be followed carefully and professionally.
The notifier is the person who distributes the death notice. Notifiers can be members of the armed forces, medical staff, or law enforcement. The person chosen to receive information about the deceased is referred to as the receiver. The beneficiary is often a close friend or member of the deceased person’s family. Death education is available for a variety of professions to learn how to efficiently deliver the news in each situation. Once the deceased’s family is given a formal death notice, they can start to begin the grieving process.
Although there have always been various methods of reporting a death, the history of death notification dates back to the dawn of time. In ancient times, people would use smoke signals or send messenger pigeons to deliver news of a death. From there, death notifications were sent via telegram prior to the development of modern technology, which allows for more official communication. In the 1800s and early 1900s, death notification was not as complicated as it is nowadays. Because there was no way to deliver them, written notices were left at funeral homes. More regulations must now be followed, one of these rules is that the name of the deceased be kept private until the survivors are notified.
Each notifier has a different protocol because every situation is different. Most families who cope with death outside of medical institutions involve police personnel heavily. The information is typically given in person, as soon as possible, alongside another officer, in simple, straightforward language, and with empathy. One of the main purposes of having two people present is to provide both the notifier with additional support in the event that someone reacts negatively and to provide support for the notifier in the event that someone lashes out. In order to make the scenario more intimate, the officers go into the receiver’s home. Alternatively, the news may be announced by a chaplain, a clergyperson who serves in a hospital, nursing home, prison, the military forces, the police, or emergency medical services.
Death education is available for those in various professions so that everyone knows how best to deliver this sad news efficiently and with compassion. It is an important step in ensuring that everyone involved can begin to heal as soon as possible after such a loss. The main goal of informing a family about a death is to help them begin the grieving and healing process. However, there are additional objectives that can be met by delivering the news in a compassionate and respectful manner. Medical personnel often rush to console and soothe grieving families while delivering bad news to them in a formal manner. However, after informing the family, the US Military withholds a deceased member’s name for 24 hours. This gives the family time to adjust to the news and begin the grieving process before having to deal with the public fallout of announcing the death.
Military notifications frequently involve a number of people: the officer making the notification, a priest who travels with them and may also assist in breaking the news, a medic (in case the family member passes out), and an officer who stays in the car in case the family members act out violently.
According to the US Army Manual: A uniformed service representative will quickly inform the Next of Kin in a dignified and sympathetic way. When giving the notification, he or she will dress like a soldier and don the traditional Class “A” uniform.
The U.S. Army has a policy of personally notifying the soldier’s primary and secondary next of kin within 24 hours of learning of their death.
In the military, there are three stages to the military death notification process. The individuals responsible for notifying are often a four-person team who are also serving in the military.
Step 1: In this stage, personal and logistical preparation are addressed, such as deciding who will speak first.
Step 2: This entails traveling to the residence, ringing the doorbell, and declaring:
“I have been asked to inform you that your [son/daughter] has been reported dead in [city, state, country] at [time and date]. [Briefly state the circumstances.] On behalf of the Secretary of Defense, I extend to you and your family my deepest sympathy in your great loss”.
Step 3: At this point, the team departs the residence. The team leader must feel that everything are under control before leaving the area.
For fifteen years, Denny Hayes served as chaplain for the FBI’s critical response team. His advice on this subject includes the following:
- Always deliver this news in person.
- Always bring a partner
- Euphemisms should be avoided because they only serve to console the speaker.
- Never let go of someone until they have someone else to comfort them.
Among the deceased are parents, children, friends, lovers, coworkers, and other incident survivors. Each receiver responds to the news differently since each relationship held a distinct meaning for the departed. Most parents want to touch their child’s flesh and take something tactile as a keepsake. A memorial box often bears the child’s handprint, hairstyle, and/or clothing. Centers claim that in order to soothe parents, they should be urged to visit their deceased child multiple times.
Children respond to death in unexpected ways depending on their age, previous exposure to death, and the emotional support present. Use concrete language and stress the finality of death when talking about death with children. Children can comprehend death at a very young age, so it is important to be honest with them. The notifier must respond to the child’s inquiries and provide them the opportunity to express their feelings. The most effective way to inform friends is to encourage them to try to resolve any outstanding concerns with the deceased.
Death Education in Professions
In 1988, the Department of Justice awarded a grant to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for the purpose of training police officers in death notification. If done correctly, the receiver will be able to get past their loss. To produce reassuring and expert death notifications, MADD started their death notification education program. More deaths than any other profession must be reported by police officers, which is why MADD’s education is so important. Licensed social workers and medical specialists worked together to develop a strategy for informing the deceased’s relatives. This entails allowing the family to view the body and speaking with the medical personnel to address any concerns they may have and plan the appropriate course of action.
Notifications in Various Settings
Losing patients is an unfortunately common occurrence for doctors and other healthcare workers. Although it is a difficult task, doctors and other healthcare workers must be prepared to deliver news of a patient’s death to their family. In addition to the sadness and grief that comes with such a loss, healthcare workers must also deal with the strain of having to break the news to loved ones. Without proper training, this task can become even more difficult, leading to burnout and dissatisfaction with one’s job.
When announcing a death, it’s important to be clear with the family and explain what happened; refrain from using terminology that’s challenging for them to understand. A person may be informed of a death in a hospital or at their place of employment. The notice is delivered in a setting where the survivor can feel private in each of these cases. For instance, ask their manager for permission before taking someone into a private room if you need to inform them of a death at work. Given that a hospital is a significant establishment, there are already established guidelines for sending out death notifications, but it would still happen in a private room.
It is crucial that the announcement of a death in a hospital not be made in a public space like a waiting room or hallway. After the death notification service is complete, survivors must fill out a variety of forms, which the notifiers assist with. In addition to the paperwork, the notifiers can also accompany the survivors to the body if they so want. Follow-up and maintaining contact with the family while they require assistance and support in responding to any queries regarding the death constitutes the “final” task that the person responsible for notifying survivors completes.
Universal Tips for Death Notification
It can be difficult to notify people of death, so there are general rules that can be applied death notifications from all professions. It is crucial to deliver this bad news in person, so it is important to prevent families from learning via social media, phone call, or any other kind of contact. The family will feel reassured that someone cares and is there for them if someone notifies them in person. It’s crucial that the notifier thinks before they speak and refrain from telling the family anything damaging that could make things worse.
Timely communication is important for families, even though it may be more critical for the military and police.
Last but not least, the person sending the notification should allow themselves to feel sad for the family’s loss without going overboard or coming across as callous. It is evident that a death notification must be handled carefully, effectively, and regardless of the profession.