When a Death Occurs

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When a Death Occurs at Home

If a person dies at home unexpectedly without home health care or hospice in place, the first call should be to your local authorities or emergency services. Let the first responders know if there is an advanced directive or do-not-resuscitate (DNR) in place when they arrive. The medical professionals will likely confirm that the person has passed and contact the local coroner or medical examiner to officially declare the death. If your loved one had home services for end of life care, contact that agency to provide an update and get instructions on your next steps. These services can generally confirm a death at home without the involvement of other authorities. 

If you have already selected the funeral home you prefer to work with, you may contact them to arrange transportation into their care. In some situations the coroner may need additional time to complete an investigation regarding the cause of death. If so, they will instruct you on what to expect during that time. If you have not pre-selected a funeral home, you may choose to take a few days to make that decision. 

It is important that you do not try to move your loved one or change anything around the home while you are waiting for first responders to arrive. You may choose to take a little time to say goodbye to the person before they are transported to the mortuary or coroner’s office. You should take care to lock up the home to secure any valuables and property after the authorities leave. Please make arrangements for the immediate care of any pets, if necessary. 


When a Death Occurs at a Hospital or Care Facility

When someone dies in a hospital or other facility, the caregivers and staff will help coordinate the discharge process. You may need to clarify whether the facility will be notifying your funeral home of choice of the death or if you need to contact them. The time frame for your loved one being released into the funeral home’s care may vary, but the staff should keep you updated throughout the process. Most hospice facilities will pre-arrange end of life plans and coordinate all of the details for you after a death occurs. 


When a Death Occurs Away From Home

If a person passes away while away from home, first responders or other   authorities need to confirm a cause of death before releasing the deceased to a funeral home. You will need to select a funeral home near your location to handle the immediate arrangements and transport the person home, if desired. The local funeral home will work with your hometown funeral home to coordinate transportation of your loved one into their care or make other arrangements, as necessary. 

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