What Steps Should You to Take after an Unexpected Death

For those left behind, resolving a loved one’s death is a confronting task, even if the death was expected. But, when you are a met with a sudden, unexpected death, the raw emotions, coupled with all the funeral arrangements, can become extremely overwhelming. Sometimes it is easier to break these tasks down into steps which you can tick off.

Five Steps You Should Take after an Unexpected Death

Step One: Contact Police and Ambulance

An unexpected death is one which occurs suddenly and without warning. These can be caused by accidents, suicides, trauma or medical events such as a heart attack. For these reasons, upon discovering the body, your first call should always be to police or ambulance; once you notify emergency services that you suspect someone has passed, they will automatically dispatch the other. Please do not touch or interact with the body.

In the event of unexpected deaths, the police must be notified to carry out an investigation into the cause of death. This is part of their standard procedure and is in no way intended to make you feel like you are being investigated.

It may seem cold, but the ambulance’s role is simply to carry out a quick medical assessment to confirm that there have been no signs of life for at least 10 minutes. They will then complete the necessary paperwork so police can begin their investigation. The ambulance officers are also available to support you so, please lean on them as much as needed during this step. 

Step Two: Police Liaise with Coroner

Once the ambulance officers have issued the Recognition of Life Extinct form, the police will usually liaise with a Government Undertaker otherwise known as a Coroner Contractor. The Police will arrange for your loved one to be transported to your closest public hospital with a mortuary by the Government Undertaker. If necessary, the Coroner Contractor will take the loved one to the place of the autopsy to determine the cause of death.

However, you DO NOT have to use the Government Undertaker, to conduct your funeral. If you wish, you can arrange for your loved one to be immediately transferred to your preferred Funeral Director, after the autopsy has occurred and your nominated Funeral Director has the appropriate paperwork, signed by you. See more at Step Three.

Step Three: Contact a Funeral Director

To speed up the funeral process, Whitsunday Funerals and Crematorium can commence the paperwork before your loved one is released from the Coroner. We can meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss your rights and responsibilities, begin the necessary paperwork, and we commence funeral arrangements.

Remember, at Whitsunday Funerals and Crematorium, we are here to help you. So, if at any point throughout the process, you feel overwhelmed, you can reach out to us.

Step Four: Coroner Contractors Take Your Loved One Too and from the Autopsy Location

This will complete their involvement.

Once this has been completed and all paperwork has been signed by your designated Funeral Director, your loved one can be transferred into their care and Funeral Arrangements can commence.

This step is only necessary if an autopsy is required. Sometimes the doctor may be able to determine the cause of death without an autopsy.

At no time during the autopsy process should the Coroner Contractor contact you directly, or provide you with marketing materials, such as business cards etc.

More information on the Coroner’s role can be found on this Queensland Government fact sheet.

Step Five: Complete All Arrangements with the Funeral Director of Your Choice

However, when choosing a funeral home, we urge you to take all relevant factors into consideration, including cost, ease of service and resources.

Other Factors to Consider When a Loved One Passes

There are many tasks which may be easily forgotten when you’re filled with emotions while also trying to complete forms and responsibilities when a loved one dies. Fortunately, we have compiled some information on this which details some of those often forgotten steps

The Queensland Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages has also created this useful checklist to help you tick off each step. While the list is made by the Queensland Department, the information it contains is also relevant for other states and territories in Australia.

How Choosing Whitsunday Funerals and Crematorium Makes Your Decision Easy

At Whitsunday Funerals and Crematorium, we have a policy of complete transparency so that you know who we are and how much each of our funeral and cremation services cost. We believe having this information readily available for a bereaved person helps to remove some of the stress of decision making.

So, let us take some of this stress off you. We await your call.