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Understanding the Dying Process

After Death Occurs

Where to Get Help When Your Loved One Dies at Home

If your loved one appears to have died at home, do not call 911 or ambulance services unless you want the paramedics to perform CPR and other life-sustaining treatment. If the paramedics are called, the law requires them to attempt to resuscitate the patient, unless the patient has a special bracelet showing that he does not want resuscitation.

If your loved one is under the care of a physician, hospice, or home health care, call the hospice or home health care nurse if you believe he has died. If your loved one has not been cared for by a physician or a nurse under a physician's direction within 30 days of his death, you must call your local law enforcement agency - either the police or sheriff. Failure to report such a death is a crime.

After Death Occurs in the Hospital

After your loved one dies, you can stay with his body for awhile to say goodbye. Then the nurses will need to take care of your loved one's body. You can come back to the room and stay with your loved one until you are ready to leave.

You will need to sign some papers. The nurses will need to ask you some questions. You will be asked about what funeral home you want to use. The nurses have a list of some of the funeral homes in Utah, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming for you.

The nurses, your social worker, or clergy will help you find phone numbers and make calls. The nurse or doctor will ask you about organ donation and autopsy.

Purpose of an Autopsy

An autopsy can answer questions about what caused your loved one's death. It can help doctors learn how to help other people. It may be hard for you to think about an autopsy at this painful time. An autopsy may give you information that can help you through your grief.

You may want to talk with a doctor or nurse about an autopsy after your loved one has died.

Text provided by:
Caring Connections
A Hope and Comfort in Grief Program
University of Utah Health Sciences Center
Caring Connections is sponsored in part by the Ben B. and Iris M. Margolis Foundation.

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