(970) 241-2212      

What happens at the time of death?

At the time of death, the patient’s:

  • Breathing stops
  • Heartbeat stops
  • Control of bladder and bowel ceases
  • Responses to verbal commands or shaking cease
  • Eyelids may be partially open with eyes in a fixed stare
  • Mouth may slightly open as the jaw relaxes

What should you do?

Call us at (866) 310-8900 and ask to have the HopeWest nurse paged. (Do not call 911 or the emergency number for your area.) You may call the secondary backup number at (970) 241-2212, if necessary. Spend time alone with the patient if you would like and wait for the nurse to arrive.

What will the nurse do?

  • Verify absence of heartbeat and breathing
  • Contact the doctor who verifies the death
  • Assist in contacting family members, if desired
  • Contact the coroner/medical examiner, if necessary
  • Contact the mortuary
  • Clean the patient’s body, if necessary
  • Help dispose of the patient’s medications and notifies the medical supply company to pick up any medical equipment, if applicable
  • Complete the patient’s discharge paperwork
  • Call or visits the family
  • May attend the funeral or memorial service

What will the social worker do?

  • Call or visit family
  • Assist in contacting family members,
  • if desired
  • Provide counseling as needed
  • May make referrals to appropriate resources for the family
  • May attend the funeral or memorial service

What will the chaplain do?

  • Assist in contacting family members, if desired
  • Assist in choosing a mortuary if previous arrangements have not been made
  • Inform family about HopeWest grief recovery and support groups
  • Provide counseling or prayer as needed
  • May call or visit family
  • May conduct the funeral or memorial service, if requested
  • May attend the funeral or memorial service

What other decisions must you make?

If you or other family members would like additional time, the patient’s body may stay at home for up to 24 hours. A HopeWest team member will call the mortuary when the family is ready and the mortuary will pick up the body when requested to do so. If a decision has been made to donate organs or tissues, the nurse or funeral director can answer any questions you may have and assist you in signing the required consent forms.

What will the funeral home do?

At the appropriate time, contact the funeral home of your choice. They will help you with any specific questions and clarification of their services, which may include:

  • Pre-need planning
  • Exploring funeral/memorial service options; including viewings, cremation, burial and grave side option
  • Finding a minister or pastor to conduct the service
  • Contacting Social Security Administration and/or Veterans Administration for death benefit, if applicable
  • Life insurance benefits
  • Death certificates
  • Cemetery arrangements – pricing and location
  • Anatomical donation of a body for science