How Will I Know Death Has Occurred?
Even though death is expected, you may not be prepared for the actual moment it occurs. At the time of death:
- There will be no response
- There will be no breathing
- There will be no pulse
- Eyes will be fixed in one direction
- Eyelids may be opened or closed
- There may be loss of control of the bladder or bowel
The procedures followed prior to and after death by nurses, physicians and funeral directors will be different from county to county, province to province and state to state. If your loved one is living with a terminal disease you should ask your physician and funeral director what the procedures are in your area.
Remember: This is an expected death and no further medical intervention is required.
Do not call 911, the police of the fire department.
After Death Has Occurred
If you have health care professionals involved in the care of the dying person they should be notified of the death. They are available to provide you with emotional support and assistance regarding phone calls to the physician and the funeral home.
A physician must be called by the nurse or the family so that the death can be certified.
At the same time, it is necessary to call the funeral home to inform them that your loved one has died.
You may spend as much time as needed with the deceased person. Do not be afraid to touch, hug or kiss the person. Some people may wish to lie down beside him/her.
A health care provider may also help with the safe, responsible way of storing and disposing of medication and equipment, but it is the family's responsibility to do so.
You may have dealt with many intense emotions and challenges in your journey through the loss of your loved one.
It is important to realize that grief is a highly personal response to life losses. Grief may last longer than society recognizes, so be patient with yourself and allow for the expression of feelings that you are feeling.