What Should You Do When Someone Dies?
It’s a sad fact that people will die. Although most people try to ignore the idea, the truth is that we will all have to deal with death at some point. It may even be that we need to deal with the aftermath of what happens when someone dies at home. And if that does happen, what should you do? What is the protocol?
The first thing that must be done if someone has died at home is to call the family doctor. Don’t call an ambulance as they are only for emergencies, and even though you might be panicking, even though you might be scared, the ambulance crew will be better off helping others. The doctor is the best person to contact. You should also call the next of kin, assuming you are not that person. And even if you are the next of kin, it is wise to call on other family members or friends for support. This is a very hard situation to be in.
If the death was expected – for example, if the deceased person had a chronic illness, or was frail and elderly – then the doctor will complete a medical certificate which will include the cause of death. Along with this certificate, you will be given a formal notice which confirms that they have signed the certificate, and giving you information on how to register the death. If you know that the person is to be cremated, then you will need two certificates which are signed by different doctors.
There is no need to move the body straight away unless this is something that you want to happen. However, one thing that you – or others – may wish to take into account is that if you do want to move the body into a lying position, you should do so soon after death, before rigor mortis sets in and the joints are difficult to move. Arrangements for a funeral home should be made to pick up the body once everyone is ready.
If the person in question dies in hospital then the hospital doctor will be able to issue the certificate and formal notice. You won’t need to contact the family doctor for this to be done. The body will then be kept in the hospital mortuary until arrangements are made.
A coroner is called if someone dies unexpectedly, or if the family doctor hasn’t seen them for 14 days if they have a terminal or chronic illness. The coroner will decide whether a port mortem or inquest is required, and this can delay the funeral.