What should you do when a house cleaning client dies? Like it or not there are a slew of emotions that vary from expected death, accidental death and intentional death. When a client dies the maid is grieving but should they play therapist to the family who hired them?
We Ask a House Cleaner what to do when a client dies because there is sadness surrounding the death and dying.
Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru says relatives, friends and family can help as a support system. She gives tip on attending the funeral, and how to be present without interfering.
Today’s sponsors are HouseCleaning360, My Cleaning Connection and Savvy Cleaner Training.
Listen: What to Do When a Client Dies
Watch: What to Do When a Client Dies
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer.
Question: What to Do When a Client Dies
What do you when a client dies?
This is a question that came in recently from a house cleaner who became attached to a particular family, and then her client dies.
And so, she called me, and she wanted to know what am I supposed to do? What is the appropriate behavior for a house cleaner? Because you don’t want to merge the personal and the professional life. But is there an exception when someone dies?
Answer: When a Client Dies – How Did They Die?
First of all, when somebody dies, we wonder how did they die? And there are a bunch of different emotions that come along with different forms of death.
Let’s say your client dies of cancer, there’s this overwhelming sadness, like, “Oh, shucks, we wish we could have beat the cancer.”
How sad, it’s such a tragedy, and we wish we could do something, and we feel helpless.
So there’s a sense of helplessness, there’s a sense of sadness, there’s a sense of we wish more could have done more.
And we’re inspired to go out and donate to the local cancer charity.
You Have Your Own Feelings About The Death
When someone commits suicide, it’s a different set of emotions.
Often people feel “Oh, that’s so selfish of them that they would take their own life.” Or “how sad that they didn’t get the help that they needed.” And even “it was such a senseless tragedy or senseless loss of life.”
All right, so there’s a different set of emotions that come along with that, other than we just feel sad and helpless, now we’re a little bit angry.
You Have Feelings About Ways to Help
A different set of emotions comes from accidental death. It’s not approaching like cancer. It’s not an intentional death, so there’s a different set of emotions.
Often in an accidental death, there is panic. We wonder “Did they have a life insurance plan?” “Who will take care of their kids?” “What can I do to help the family find balance?”
And the helplessness is different because there is no charity to donate to for accidents. And there’s no closure on accidental deaths.
Death Sparks Emotions We Didn’t Know We Had
Lots of house cleaners, while sad they’ve lost a friend, have also lost a client. They’ve lost the future income that client represents. Nobody wants to discuss that part – but you will have to replace that income.
When a client dies there are house cleaners that are angry. And other house cleaners jump in and try to rescue the family from their own feelings or walk them through the grieving process.
You’re Just The House Cleaner – You’re Not Family
So there’s a lot of emotions that are going on when a client dies. And it’s important to realize that you are the house cleaner. You’re not the family. It’s not your job to take the kids and finish raising them.
It’s not your job to help the family pay the leftover bills. Or to bring dinner in every night for the next three months. You’re hired to help.
We’re Helpers by Trade
Our jobs as house cleaners are to help. To create harmony in a home. We do that by cleaning. And when a client dies, in our own grief, it’s easy to blur the boundaries.
Be aware that when a client dies there will be chaos. There is a funeral to plan. The family will be coming in from out of town. There will be things you can do to help – but let the family call on you. You can be available and offer your services but don’t meddle.
You Are Not a Licensed Therapist
There are exceptions, but most house cleaners and maids are not licensed, therapists. Jumping into family conversations and giving advice is not a good idea. Especially when a family is hurting and vulnerable.
It’s understandable that you will have your own grief to process when a client dies. And it is wise to process that alone. There are support groups for house cleaners where others have experienced similar situations. They can help you process your feelings.
Please keep in mind that it is not your job to rescue or resolve the family pain left behind when a client dies.
Please Keep Your Opinions to Yourself
In the event of a suicide, you will have feelings of futility. Keep those feelings to yourself. You don’t help anything or anyone when you say things like “Wow, what a senseless tragedy.”
Due to the circumstances, it’s an insensitive thing to say and can have damaging effects.
What Should You Say When a Client Dies?
Keep your comments to the family simple and generic. Don’t include your own personal stories of others who have died, and don’t try to do their grieving for them. What do you say when a client dies? Simple statements like “I’m so sorry for your loss” and “I’ll be keeping your family in my prayers” work well. They show you care.
When a Client Dies Should You Go To The Funeral?
This question comes up a lot. Should you attend the funeral? And the answer is it’s up to you. If you are the business owner and you can get off work. Sure, go show your support for the family.
If you are a cleaning employee, you may not be able to get off work. Sending a sympathy card would be appropriate to let the family know you care.
Check with your employer before sending a card to make sure you are not in violation of contacting the customer outside the job.
Usually, your company will pass along your card and maybe also send flowers or some other thoughtful gesture.
Should You Fire Yourself When a Client Dies?
The family may still want you to come clean. So don’t quit just yet. Let them know you are available and willing to continue to help them and let them decide. Without the income of the client who dies, they may not be able to afford your services.
Give them a couple of weeks to let family work through the situation before giving their cleaning spot away.
Death Takes a Toll on Everyone
When a client dies it’s tough for the house cleaner who is in the home on a regular basis. It’s easy to get attached to your clients and to be a part of their lives. Nobody knows how to react and respond to the death of a client. Having a standard for death in your company will help you and your employees work through these types of situations when they arise. And you won’t have to stop and figure it out each time.
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Resources For This Episode
Confessions of a Grieving Christian by Zig Ziglar – http://amzn.to/2ssR9yl
Grieving: How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies – http://amzn.to/2sqWne8
Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul: Stories About Life, Death and Overcoming the Loss of a Loved One – http://amzn.to/2Bu4Pff
Levels of Life – http://amzn.to/2suw3zF
Permissions To Share
Savvy Cleaner Training – House Cleaner Training and Certification
HouseCleaning360 – Referral database of the world’s most prominent home service providers and the homeowners they serve.
My Cleaning Connection – Your hub for all things cleaning.