Notify the deceased's closest loved ones

Immediately After a Death

After a death, local Authorities must legally document the death and then move the body to begin the final disposition process.

However, this does not need to happen right away. Close loved ones have an opportunity to spend time with the deceased's body.

Notify them about the death, and if possible, give them a specific time to arrive.

Even if they're unable to visit, or are not comfortable doing so, they may appreciate the offer.

Helpful Tips


Depending upon the cause of death, it may not be appropriate for friends and family to visit.

This could be due to trauma, or the circumstance is just not appropriate in general.

Examples include suicide, homicide, or personal relationships that may cause conflict.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant If the cause of death is unknown, or there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, it's best not to disturb the area where the deceased passed.

  • Inviting friends and family is not recommended, unless they are needed for a specific reason
  • Contact local authorities immediately and avoid tampering with potential evidence
  • Try not to move anything in the area, including the body or items near it, until the authorities have arrived
  • Speak with an attorney who may be needed to assess damages or to represent you or the deceased in court

If this is an emergency, call 911


Depending upon the circumstances of a death, it may be challenging to know what to say to others when informing them about the death.

Phone calls are often recommended for those who were close to the deceased. If there are many people to contact, ask others to help. However, one or two family members will help make these phone calls.

You may be able to find the contact information for close friends in the deceased person’s phone. When calling, be sensitive to the seriousness of the news you’re about to share.

Saying something like, “I just wanted to let you know some bad news” or “I have something difficult to share with you” can help people prepare for what you’ll say next.

These types of statements are effective because they not only help manage expectations, but they are truthful statements.

Personal Considerations


Are loved ones nearby to say goodbye in person?


Ask when they are able to arrive, and then coordinate visitation times with others.

It may help to have everyone arrive at the same time, or it may be better to stagger arrivals.

There is no "typical" amount of time a person should spend with the deceased’s body. Manage the moment as you see fit.

Either way, visitors do not need to arrive immediately, so take the time to prepare.


Offer them the opportunity to spend time with the deceased via cell phone or video conferencing apps such as FaceTime, Zoom or WhatsApp.

Even if they're at a distance, the moment may be cathartic and comforting for them, and for you.

How to organize a FaceTime call on an Apple device

How to use Zoom to set up a video call

How to make a video call using WhatsApp


If loved ones are close by:

Ask when they are able to arrive, and then coordinate visitation times with others.

It may help to have everyone arrive at the same time, or it may be better to stagger arrivals.

There is no "typical" amount of time a person should spend with the deceased’s body. Manage the moment as you see fit.

Either way, visitors do not need to arrive immediately, so take the time to prepare.

If loved ones are not close but want to say goodbye:

Offer them the opportunity to spend time with the deceased via cell phone or video conferencing apps such as FaceTime, Zoom or WhatsApp.

Even if they're at a distance, the moment may be cathartic and comforting for them, and for you.

How to organize a FaceTime call on an Apple device

How to use Zoom to set up a video call

How to make a video call using WhatsApp

Providers to Contact


Wrongful Death Attorneys Near You

If the cause of death is suspicious, a Wrongful Death Attorney can offer helpful guidance and advice on next steps. Wrongful death attorneys help families get compensation for the death of a loved one caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing.

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Immediately After a Death