The Role of Forensic Death Investigators Interacting With the Survivors of Death by Homicide and Suicide

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When sudden unexpected death occurs, an investigation ensues in an attempt to discover the cause and manner of death. Autopsies are performed when reasons for death are not obvious. They are used to provide information, confirm the cause of death, and/or reveal conditions not recognized before death (Hendricks, 2011). One important reason for performing an autopsy is to help families to understand what happened to their loved one so that they can begin the process of grieving. The way that the initial notification and investigation is handled can have a bearing on how a family’s grief progresses. Forensic nurses are in a unique position to bring a holistic approach to death investigation with a focus of care that includes not only the decedent but the surviving loved ones as well (Koehler, 2008). Forensic nurse death investigators can assist families through initial stages of grief in the investigation of death.

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