First let’s start by saying that nothing has to be done the instant after someone dies. Take some time with your loved one’s body (if you want to) and let the grieving process begin. How long you can spend with the body after death may depend on where the death occurred. If your loved one passes away at home there will be no need to move the body anytime soon, so you can spend as much time as you need. There will be time for you to exercise any religious or cultural customs that need to be done. If death will likely occur in a facility, like a hospital or nursing home, be sure to talk with the staff about your customs and time requirements early so they can plan accordingly.
Death must be officially pronounced by someone like a doctor or a hospice nurse. Paperwork must also be filled out noting the time, place, and cause of death in order for a death certificate to be prepared. The death certificate is a legal form required by insurance companies and financial institutions. If you are working with hospice there will already be a plan in place for what to do next. If death occurs at home without the use of hospice, you can try talking with the doctor, local medical examiner (coroner), or a funeral home ahead of time to be prepared.
Make arrangements for the body to be picked up as soon as the family is ready. This is typically done by a funeral home. If death occurs at a hospital or nursing home, a member of the staff can make the phone call for you. However, if at home, you will need to take care of that yourself or have a friend or family member do it for you.
The doctor could possibly ask if you want an autopsy to learn more about the cause of death. Please talk with your doctor if your religion or culture does not permit autopsies.