Learning that a family member or friend has passed away can be a confronting experience when you're the one who discovers the body. It's a moment of profound shock and grief, and it can be extremely difficult to know just what to do next. What exactly must be done if you're the one to discover a deceased loved one?
Start with the Police
Call the police. Their intervention will not always be necessary, but they will need to determine this for themselves. When your loved one was at an advanced age and/or was suffering from a serious illness, the police might simply refer you to a doctor. This could even be your own doctor, who will promptly make their way to you in order to confirm death and begin the necessary arrangements for a death certificate.
When a Coroner Is Involved
When the circumstances of the death are unclear, the police might attend the scene and refer the matter to the coroner so that the details can be ascertained via a post mortem. This is nothing to be alarmed about, and the body will generally be promptly released. Your loved one's body will be released to a funeral director who can collect it as soon as permission has been granted.
Contact a Funeral Home
If the coroner is not required, and a doctor has visited the scene to confirm the death, you will need to contact a funeral home as soon as possible. Death does not conform to business hours, so it doesn't matter when you need to make the call. Late nights, weekends and public holidays are largely meaningless to funeral directors, and they will always make themselves available. Call your chosen funeral home, and if necessary, the call can be diverted to an after-hours mobile phone, or there will at least be a recording providing you with the after-hours phone number. Find a local funeral director to help you.
Call Close Family and Friends
It's going to be extremely difficult, and perhaps it will be the moment that the death will start to feel real, but you should also contact your loved one's closest family and friends. Don't worry about how late it might be. Just think, if a loved one passed away, wouldn't you prefer to be immediately notified?
It can be quite traumatic to discover the body of a loved one, regardless of the circumstances, so don't hesitate to get help if you need assistance in dealing with this trauma.