⋅A Lonely Death⋅

An unattended death is used to describe an event where a person died and was not discovered for days or weeks and is in an advanced stage of decomposition, which takes only two or three days following death, and fewer if the body is in a very warm room. As a society, dying alone is probably among our greatest fears. No one wants to die a lonely death and it can be hard for us to comprehend when it occurs. People routinely ask us how someone can die and not be missed. You’d be surprised how often this happens.

To Pass Unnoticed

Many of the suicides we are called in to clean up are unattended. Often lonely and isolated, these people don’t work or play in the public arena. If and when they are missed, it is days or weeks after they have died. Other people, who live on the fringes of society, are not missed right away if at all. We were once called to a motel on the outskirts of Tampa, Florida, where a 28-year-old man had overdosed on drugs.

It was common for him to disappear for days at a time when he was strung out, so no one reported him missing until he didn’t check out of the motel when he was supposed to and the motel manager went into the room nine days after he had died.

Many elderly people also are not discovered right away. They die a lonely death from the effects of illness, neglect, and old age. You’d be surprised how many old people have no immediate family or close friends, and if they do, no one is checking on them regularly. Most of them don’t work, so they are not missed, and their death is discovered when someone notices a foul odor coming from a hotel room or home.

In advanced decomposition, or “putrefaction,” the body is swollen, green or black, often infested with maggots that have burrowed into the corpse and are eating it, and many times, the body has burst open from the build-up of internal gasses.

The coroner has usually removed the body by the time we get there (though not always), but large quantities of liquefied matter from the body, along with maggots, cover the area where the body was. Because a decomposing body’s lungs ooze copious amounts of fluid through the mouth and nose, those fluids are also present in the area where the body was. All of this bio hazardous material must be decontaminated, thoroughly cleaned, and professionally packaged in biohazard containers and then removed.

The Stench of Death

One thing the coroner can’t remove is the unbearable stench of death and decomposition, which permeate every surface of the home including the walls, flooring, drapery, furniture, decorations, and the infrastructure of the home itself. The odor requires cleaners to wear ventilated respirators.

People ask us all the time what the smells of death are like.

The smell of a dead, decomposing body defies any description I can give.

What I CAN say is that it is a smell you can never forget. You smell it even when it isn’t there, and you try to scrub its memory off in the shower. Sometimes you can’t eat because of its memory. The smell permeates your nightmares.

“I’ve smelled dead animals, and it was nasty, but it didn’t make me gag,” they’ll say.

Well, most human bodies have significantly more mass than a decomposing rat or squirrel. The overwhelming smell of a decomposing body is similar to rotten eggs because among the many gasses produced by decomposition is the gas hydrogen sulfide, which is what causes rotting eggs to smell so bad. But imagine an entire 150-pound human body, not just one small egg, which smells this way.

Trained to Handle Unattended Death

Along with the cleaning up the liquefied remains and body fluids and using special equipment and chemicals to deodorize the environment, we must chase down and kill runaway maggots that escaped the body and the immediate area where the body lay and are now running around the environment carrying deadly pathogens with them.

Unattended death is clearly not a job for the squeamish.

Leave these hard-core unattended death cleanups to the experts. Advanced Bio Treatment professionals have no delusions about what they are walking into. We’ve seen it all, we’ve cleaned it all, and we come prepared to do the job thoroughly, professionally, respectfully, and safely. We follow all OSHA, EPA, and state health department guidelines to make the environment safe and livable for others.

Ted Pelot Owner & President of Crime Scene Cleanup Company - Advanced Bio-Treatment