The Notification Process

Luis, your brother described you as his boy. His “best friend.” The pictures he shared with me showed your sweet young face. I knew you were gone and I had to keep your family together so that the FBI could tell them. I hope I did that the right way and that your memory was honored by me. When your mom arrived, we walked your family to a room to tell them that you were here but had not survived. Your mom realized what was happening as she walked down the hall. I saw her begin to understand what was happening and I saw the despair wash across her face. Your brother’s cries are etched in my brain. They love you. Their agony was almost unbearable. 

 

When we began notifying the families that their loved one had died, we had to work hand in hand with the FBI and hospital administration. Our system’s chief operating officer, Dr. Jamal Hakim, stayed with every family when they went into the room with the FBI. After they were told the terrible news, we provided a quiet room for them to grieve and call other loved ones. We found a private exit to guide families out so that they would not have to face a crowd.

 

I walked a grieving family out the back door of the hospital to avoid prying eyes and media. The family was inconsolable. All I could say was, “I am so sorry for your loss.” They could not look at me. We just told them the worst news of their lives and now they have to go out into the world and face the reality of what just happened. I hear the cries of this family still. The “Nos!!!” and the “Whys!!!” Haunting.