When you work in the police department or the field of forensic investigation, one of the most challenging parts of the job has to do with crime scene cleanup. Even if you have already been in this industry for long, you never really know what to expect after every call for a crime scene cleanup. Other than the physical toll that it may take on your body, there is also the extreme psychological, mental, and emotional challenge that it can bring. After all, working in this industry is not like any other ordinary day in an office setting.
You may have stumbled across this article because you are leaning towards a career in this field, or you are already in this job, but you still are struggling with the mental preparation required by this line of work. You’re in luck because this article is here to help you with tips on how you can mentally prepare yourself for the next time you are sent on a crime scene cleanup.
Create a locus of control in your system
If you take the time to talk to any mental health expert, one of the most common tips that they can give you when dealing with any form of mental anxiety is to practice your locus of control. This refers to the concept of believing that you still have some sort of control over your life. How is this applied to a crime scene cleanup?
Because this is your job, you do not have control over the fact that you have no choice but to go through this process. You cannot just walk out of a crime scene and say that it is too mentally draining for you to accomplish. When you practice your locus of control, you will embed it in your mind to believe that you have some form of control over this situation.
For example, you can control your attitude and your thoughts about the crime scene clean up. A human being’s mind has so much power that it can accomplish great feats through a simple change in attitude or perspective. If you convince yourself to have a positive attitude towards completing this job successfully, then you can be sure that the next time you walk over to this type of assignment, it will already be less stressful and grisly for you.
Remember the grieving or affected families
When the day or assignment gets too tough that you feel you can no longer handle it, go back to the very basics of your job. Think about the family that is grieving or has been affected. These family members would naturally want to have a sense of comfort in a difficult time. By cleaning up the crime scene as professionally as you could, you are paying your respects both to the victim and their family. And even if the victim has no family, every human being deserves to have a measure of dignity even at the end of their lives, so cleaning up the crime scene at least restores the victim’s dignity even if they have passed away.
In addition, cleaning up a crime scene is also very important because it eases the pain of the family members. Imagine if the family has to pass through the same area all the time with the place still bearing remnants of the horrific incident. The trauma will just haunt them for the rest of their lives, even greater than whatever trauma you might be feeling. The better you do your job, the lighter the emotional burden will be for the aggrieved family as well.
Talk to yourself about the job
Did you know that talking to yourself is actually healthy and therapeutic? Undoubtedly, yes, you have other members of the team that you can openly talk to about your concerns. But, perhaps when you go home, at the end of the day, your horrific thoughts start to haunt your mind again, which makes it difficult for your to get up the next day. Or you have been transferred to a new team and you haven’t gotten to know any of them yet to feel comfortable voicing out your concerns.
One of the best things that you can do to combat these stressors is to talk to yourself actively. What you put in your mind to perceive and believe, your body and entire mental capacity will also actually be able to achieve. It will be helpful to your preparation for you to talk to yourself and train your mind to openly accept and believe that this job isn’t as hard as you thought it would be. Tell yourself that, yes, you are going to give your best in cleaning up the crime scene. Whether the crime scene involves a minor physical injury or accident, or the most gruesome of murders, talking to yourself in the affirmative sense will help make the job easier to cope with.
Practice emotional resilience
Have you ever wondered why the bamboo is considered as one of the most resilient types of grasses? Even in the toughest of situations, the bamboo sways along with the wind. You should be the same, too. When you are given the task of a crime scene cleanup, remember that it is okay for you to cry, to feel the emotions of the family, or to be afraid. But these emotions shouldn’t hinder you from completing the task ahead.
Despite all these emotions that you are feeling, you should be strong enough to complete the cleanup. Emotional resiliency is better than actually faking a tough and strong image all the time. When you allow yourself to feel your emotions—good and bad—chances are you might even finish the job better and faster than you usually would. How so? Feeling these emotions also opens you up to empathize with the affected family, so in every step that you make during the crime scene cleanup, as you remember them, and you become even more motivated to do the cleanup as best as it should be done.
There is no denying that a crime scene cleanup is going to be one of the most stressful aspects of your job. It can drain out your physical, emotional, and psychological strength. However, no matter how traumatic the situation may be for you, remember that this is a job that you have chosen to do, and if only for the sake of the victims and their families, you have to give your A-game into completing it successfully.