Cleaning up after an unattended and lonely death is not only a difficult task but also one that should be done by licensed professionals to ensure the biological and emotional health for those involved. Death cleanup is needed in all parts of the world. Recently the Washington Post published an article about the aging population of Japan and the fact that the culture has been transitioning to being single and living alone, which is leading to more unattended deaths, or what they nicely refer to as “Lonely Deaths” with people sometimes going weeks if not months before being discovered.
“The general concept of family in Japan has fallen apart,” said Masaki Ichinose, part of the Center for Life and Death Studies at the University of Tokyo. “The overall number of people who are alone is growing, so it’s inevitable that the number of people dying without anyone’s support is also growing.”

There is a very distinct monthly pattern to unattended deaths that unfortunately continues month after month. In its simplistic form, it all circles back to rent money, or, in some cases where rent is the factor, it’s because more people are living by themselves more than ever before. Many people who live alone live in apartments. Rent is due on the first of each month. When someone passes away his or her monthly rent goes unpaid. On the 3rd day of the month the property managers knocks on the door and tapes a letter to pay the rent of risk being evicted or having late fees. On approximately the 10th day of the month a neighbor begins to smell a foul odor and realizes they have not seen their neighbor and they call the police to do a wellness check and the person is found deceased, having been alone decomposing for as many days or weeks in which they passed prior to the rent being due. The result and next steps are the same. The next of kin is contacted and within the next few days Bio SoCal gets called to help the family to help recover any valuable items and while helping property manager and clean up the biohazards and remove the odor infused contents so it can be prepared and safely leased to another person.

This pattern is true in all parts of the world and the task of cleaning, restoring, and, of course, grieving is one that repeats. It’s a fact of life that we all face.

A good friend who lives in Japan sent this Washington Post article, to me. It is well written and illustrates a number of things that people rarely acknowledge, realize or understand let alone prepare for. Living alone and having no family or close friends to check on you and spend time with is lonely just as is dying without anyone knowing you have passed. I never really saw it that way until I read this article and it brought the idea and emotion of what it means to die alone and go undiscovered. What can be done? I don’t know that there is an overall solution but it is clearly a growing issue and illustrates how important it is to call your parents, grandparents, and friends and loved ones often just to say “hello”, especially if they are elderly. Calling or stopping by to say “hello”, whether it’s convenient, or you want to or not, it may just save their life If it is their time to pass at least they won’t be alone. Whenever I hear that someone passed peacefully surrounded by their friends and family, I think to myself how lucky they are to have people that truly care, support and to just “be there” as they move on to their next chapter as opposed to dying lonely or in a traumatic and sudden accident with affairs unresolved and questions unanswered.

Bio SoCal, like the company in Japan, is in business to help families first and foremost during a very difficult time, regardless of the situation or turn of events. Bio SoCal is also here to help property managers clean and decontaminate a unit so it can be professionally and safely restored for the next person who leases the unit.

Fortunately, for people having to deal with the aftermath of a lonely death there are companies like Bio SoCal and Next who specialize in the imaginable task of cleaning up what remains.

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