When a Death Occurs

When a Death Occurs at Home

In case a person dies unexpectedly at home without home health care or hospice services, the first call should be to your local authorities or emergency services. Inform the first responders whether there is an advanced directive or do-not-resuscitate (DNR) in place when they arrive. The medical professionals will confirm the person's passing 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 usually confirm a death at home without involving other authorities.

If you have already selected the funeral home you prefer to work with, you may contact them to arrange transportation to 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 take a few days to make that decision.

It is important not to try to move your loved one or change anything around the home while you are waiting for first responders to arrive. You may 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 a person passes away in a hospital or any other care facility, the staff and caregivers will assist with the discharge process. It is important to confirm whether the facility will inform your preferred funeral home about the death or if you need to contact them yourself. The time frame for your loved one to be released to the funeral home may vary, but the staff should keep you updated throughout the process. Most hospice facilities have arrangements in place to coordinate all of the details following a death.


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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