According to traditional Navajo beliefs, to live a healthy, happy and long life, it is essential for one to live in balance physically, mentally and spiritually. This concept of balance is called “Hozo.” When one is out of Hozo in mind, body or spirit, sickness and death can occur. Spiritual healing ceremonies performed by a Navajo Hataatii (medicine man) are used when a Navajo becomes sick or ill to restore Hozo so that the patient may once again walk in beauty.
Think for a moment how the Navajo concepts of living in Hozo and walking in beauty are applicable not only to the modern world, but especially to forensic restoration.
We all know that we need to take care of our bodies through proper exercise, diet and nutrition, and plenty of rest. Sometimes that is easier said than done. Our minds are constantly bombarded with what can seem like information overload, and not all of it is good or good for you. In our busy, hectic lives, we forget to thank our creator for the sunrise of each new day and for the gift of life itself. Awakening early each morning to greet the rising sun, a traditional Navajo will say a prayer to bless themselves. Some might see this self-blessing as selfish, but a traditional Navajo believes that he can be of no use to anyone if he is not in Hozo. If you’re not a strong swimmer, you won’t be much help to someone who is drowning; the same can be said of a forensic restoration specialist. If the forensic specialist is not healthy, trained, equipped and mentally grounded, they are not going to be a lot of use to the client or the forensic restoration team members.
Here’s a fact of life: No one calls 911 because everything is okay, and no one calls a forensic restoration specialist because they are having a good day. In fact, they may be having one of the worst days of their lives, whether it’s a loss of life incident, which could be any of the four forensic categories of death — homicide, suicide, accidental or natural — and any of these can move into the category of unattended death within hours. The client on the other end of the phone has had their world turned upside down and now their life is out of Hozo.
As forensic restoration specialists, we are given a very honor- able and sacred trust by our clients to help restore the Hozo in their lives. At times, we as forensic operators will deal with people who are in a very fragile emotional state of being and they not only open up their homes, businesses and, some- times, houses of worship, but they also open up their lives. Sometimes the mask we wear in life may come off and we deal with the raw emotions of hurt, anger and sorrow.
The forensic restoration specialist must realize that in an environment of highly charged emotions, clients can sometimes say things that they would not under normal circumstances. It’s nothing personal — it never is. It’s just part of our job.
With beauty before me may I walk with beauty behind me
Restoring Hozo isn’t easy, but it is extremely emotionally and spiritually rewarding. I have had clients collapse and sob on my shoulders, embrace me and weep, and turn a handshake into a hug, all while saying, “Thank you.” While forensic restoration primarily concerns itself with the cleaning and disinfecting of structures and fomites from biological contamination, in the end, we are caretakers of the human condition.
Sometimes people ask, “What do you do?” “Forensic restoration,” I’ll reply. “Wow! You do crime scene cleaning? I bet you see some things.” “Yes, I do,” I’ll reply. “I see the effects of man’s inhumanity to his brother and the results of bad decision-making. I also see acts of kindness and compassion; I see the worst and the best in men.” “How do you clean some- thing like that up?” I’ve been asked. “How do you deal with it?” “What I do is put things back in Hozo,” I reply, “so that people may get on with their lives and walk in beauty.” RIA