Dealing With the Aftermath of a Wrongful Death

By  //  August 10, 2022

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People die every day, and we expect and are somewhat prepared for this. However, in the case of wrongful death, the shock of this unexpected event can be mind-numbing and make it hard for family members to cope with practical details. We examine what is required when dealing with the aftermath of wrongful death.

Wrongful Death 

In a narrow definition of wrongful death, it includes the death of a person before their time as a result of someone else’s negligence. Here are some examples according to this understanding. A broader definition of wrongful death also adds manslaughter, homicide, assault, and battery.

A relative may file a wrongful death suit to claim compensation for emotional and financial suffering. This is a civil case, which differs from a criminal charge taken through the courts. 

However one chooses to define wrongful death, it does leave behind an aftermath that is distinct from natural death, such as from disease.

The Grieving Process

There are five stages of grief that everyone goes through when they lose someone that they loved to death, irrespective of the cause. The phases tend to occur in a set order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

All of these stages are much more difficult to process in the event of wrongful death. Additionally, the shock factor is likely to be intense and present in all such incidences. It may delay the person moving onto the five stages of grief.

Anger might be expressed as rage, with a need for the perpetrator to be punished. This is often a spur to civil claims. In some cases, people want to avenge the person’s death themselves, often from a feeling of having failed to protect their loved one. Professional help is a necessity.

Dealing with Authorities and Outsiders

Families are often plagued by the media following a wrongful death, especially of a sensational nature. Police will be interviewing them when they are still in shock and denial. These intense emotions make it difficult for them to deal with people.

A family spokesperson needs to be appointed to handle as much of the communication with outsiders as possible. Usually, a relative who is not part of the immediate family is the best choice. Finding out the status of a will and starting the process must be undertaken too.

Cleaning Up After a Fatal Event

If the event happened in the family home, and especially if it is considered a crime scene, the family who lives there will have to be moved to relatives, neighbors, or a motel. Seeing the remains of the event would be an unwarranted trauma.

The spokesperson or another relative or close family friend should step forward or be appointed to restore the home to normality. All traces of the incident must be removed. Find a professional crime scene cleanup service here

The entire house should be tidied up to remove any signs of violence. However, apart from cleaning up blood and other body matter, many parents would prefer their child’s room to remain untouched as a shrine.

Eventually, the grieving family members will pass through all the stages of grief and return to the daily world, although they will never forget, and will need firm friends to carry them through the rough times.