The First 24+ Hours

The first 24 hours after the loss of a loved one can be very difficult. The appropriate steps to take depend on the circumstances surrounding the death. What is the first thing you should do when a family member or a close friend dies?

0-1 Hours After Death: Report the Death

1.   If a death occurs at home:

Death under hospice care: If your loved one has endured a prolonged illness at home under hospice care, contact their primary medical professional, who will follow all proper procedures, including making a legal pronouncement of death. Hospice professionals may also advise you in this circumstance.

Sudden, unexpected death: For an unexpected or unattended death, call 911 to notify the police and emergency medical personnel, who will attempt resuscitation, if they are authorized to do so. The body of your loved one may need to be moved to the hospital where a doctor can make a legal pronouncement of death.

Arrangements for organ donation: If your loved one’s driver ’s license or Advance Healthcare Directive gives authorization for organ donation, immediately inform the medical staff so that they can determine if organ or tissue donation is a viable option.

Note: If your loved one has signed a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) document, or is wearing a “DNR” or “Comfort Care Only” bracelet, medical personnel will not attempt resuscitation.

2.   If a death occurs in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or hospital:

Alert the staff, nurse or physician if you are the first to be aware of the death.

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