Smile and nod


by Sarah Meedel

Every day people die. There is that flickering thought that crosses our minds that it could happen to us or a loved one. The truth of the matter is not everyone dies peacefully in their sleep. The world is a sick place and people can die gruesomely, even in their own homes. No one plans on having someone they know die horrifically, but it could happen.

Since a grisly death is not something most people usually plan on, making arrangements beforehand to clean up the mess is pretty much out of the question. In the cases of homicide and suicide, one would generally think from watching enough TV dramas the police or their affiliates would clean up the mess. Not true. The police are there to collect evidence, not to clean up.

So who does clean up a death scene? Essentially it is the homeowner’s responsibility to handle it. Some might try start over and pick up and move. But it is hard to sell a house filled with the stench of carnage. The scene must be cleaned up one way or another. It is traumatic enough for a parent to have lost a child, imagine the endless psychological damage caused by picking pieces of little Susie’s brain off her porcelain doll collection; it wouldn’t be surprising if the parents took the same way out after enduring the cleanup.

There is another option for people who have lost a loved one. It is a line of work few have probably heard of before — death scene cleaners. Dozens of companies around the United States are popping up, ready to handle the hideous task at hand. In the phone book they are often disguised as carpet cleaners. The phone book has yet to recognize death scene cleaning as its own category.

The cleaners come into the house to clean it of all bodily remains and restore the home to a sanitary state. The job is not for those with weak stomachs. Cleaning up globs of what used to be human beings is enough to make one vomit. Doing such a job requires interaction with the remaining members of the household, which can be just as hard as cleaning up the mess itself. Emotions are running high and a cleaner needs to be able to handle the situation.

The cleaning process is not cheap and for good reason. Prices for cleanup range from $1,500 to $5,000. The more gruesome the scene, the more money it costs. Homeowners do not have to pay the bill alone though. Most cleanup companies work with the client and their insurance company to cover the costs.

Death is something bound to happen. We can’t always control the circumstances of how it happens. But it is nice to know if something horrific does happen people don’t have to go it alone.


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