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What to Do When a Loved One Passes Away at Home

Update Date: Oct 26, 2020 11:53 AM EDT
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When a loved one dies at home, family members have difficult tasks left at hand. Many individuals report feeling blindsided by their family member or friend’s passing or emotionally ill-equipped to conquer these next steps. Because we don’t spend a considerable amount of time thinking about death or suspecting that a loved one may die at home, these moments can rattle even the most emotionally-sturdy support group members.

Sadly, these unexpected deaths happen every day across the world, which is why you should learn the proper steps to take in the event a terminal accident or injury occurs. It’s especially important to familiarize yourself with these steps if you’re caring for a loved one who’s sick or has received a terminal diagnosis.

Losing a person we care about is difficult, to say the least, and poses emotional challenges and stresses that can be challenging to manage. To make the process easier to bear, follow the outline below in the event a loved one passes at home. If your chronically ill loved one deems you responsible for the aftercare, you’d need to maintain a demeanor of strength and stay calm in the face of tragedy.

Call the proper authorities

At the first sign of medical distress, call 9-1-1. The operator can advise you on the proper steps to take to save the person's life. The operator will dispatch an ambulance and a team of medical personnel at the first point of contact.

If the unconscious person has already passed away, notify the operator. You should also call the hospice agency if the person in question was in hospice care.

When these medical responders arrive, give these personnel ample space to work. Though this is an emotionally-charged time for family members, responders need this space to resuscitate a patient, perform CPR, etc. Many first responders attempt to revive a patient and need room to move the body and complete other procedures to verify that death has occurred.

Schedule cleaning service

Most people wrongly assume police clean-up the scene after these medical professionals pronounce a person deceased, but this is a rampant misconception. It’s the homeowner's responsibility to clean-up after a death in the home.

Don’t assume that you can clean this yourself. Call a professionally-trained expert like ECS Crime & Trauma Scene Cleaning; they’re a Dallas-Fort Worth crime scene cleaning company, with locations in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Austin. A company like this will travel on-site to assess the scene and remove harmful bacteria, bodily fluids, etc. after death occurs. Remember, it’s dangerous and unsanitary to attempt to clean the area yourself or leave the scene uncleaned.

Bacteria responsible for body decomposition also cause odors that register very quickly after the person passes. With these pungent odors and possibilities of bacteria transmission in mind, cleaning services are vital for your household’s safety, well-being, and sanity.

Schedule an appointment at the local mortuary

If your loved one dies due to natural causes and no foul play is suspected, the next step is to find a local mortuary. Notify the police, of course, if you suspect instances of foul play.

You may already know the company you want to call, or you may want to research the available providers in the area at this time. Costs and the lists of services will vary from one mortuary to the next. Although, you may prefer a particular provider over others based on client reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations.

For those unfamiliar with the purpose of mortuary services, a mortuary arranges body pick-up and transportation after medical professionals declare your loved one deceased. They arrive to remove the body from the scene as quickly as possible. They’ll also take care of services such as acquiring a death certificate, making burial arrangements, scheduling a memorial service, and placing obituaries in local newspapers and online to notify friends and family.

At their core, mortuaries provide services that make this difficult time a bit easier for families left to mourn. With the help of a mortuary, you can focus on undergoing the grieving process and recovering from this devastating incident.

Take time to heal

Many people take time to sit with the body after a passing. In fact, this ritual is customary in some cultures. Feel free to sit with the body to help better process what’s happened.

Not surprisingly, it’s an emotionally trying time for anyone close to the person who has died. After the mortuary removes the body, secure the person’s valuables and personal belongings.

Once you’ve checked off the checklist items mentioned above, take plenty of time to mourn the loss and heal after the death. Seek support from family members and friends who usually help you process your grief and feelings of anxiety.

During this time, you may wish to contact a therapist to sign up for grief support, as well. These mental health professionals offer support and guidance and help you grapple with losing a loved one. Keep in mind a plethora of information concerning grief loss and support is available online at no cost. Access this information 24/7, day or night.

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