What happens when someone dies

The following information explains what happens in different situations when someone dies. Betts Funeral Services can guide you through the whole process in each circumstance to make the process a little easier during this emotional time.

Death in a hospital, hospice or nursing home

If the death occurs at a hospital, hospice or nursing home and is expected, the medical staff will confirm and determine the cause of the death. The nursing staff will notify the next of kin and/or family members. The next of kin then needs to contact their preferred funeral director to make the necessary arrangements for transfer of the deceased into the funeral home’s premises and talk through the next steps.

When a death occurs at home or a public space

If the death was expected, a doctor still has to confirm death and document the cause of death so this should be the first phone call followed by the funeral director of your choice to transfer the deceased to their premises.

When the death is unexpected

When an unexpected death occurs in the home, hospital or in a public place then the death may need to be referred to the coroner and the first phone call needs to be the police who will make the arrangements for the transfer of the deceased. The following are reasons why a death may be referred to the coroner:

  • Accidental death

A death by any form of accident, will involve the police. Once they have completed their scene examination they will organise for the local funeral director who is contracted to the coroner to transfer the deceased to the coroner’s mortuary where a post mortem may take place. The family then needs to contact the funeral director of their choice to arrange the return of the deceased to the funeral home

  • Any other circumstance where the death is unexpected

Apart from an accident, examples of unexpected death could be where there is no serious health history, possible violence, or no recent consultation with a doctor. In such circumstances, you should call the police as well as your doctor. The police will determine if the death needs to be referred to the coroner.

  • If the coroner is involved

In cases where the cause of death is not obvious, the police will notify the coroner. The coroner will carry out further investigative work to determine the cause of death. When this has been completed, the deceased will then be released to the family to arrange the funeral and their chosen funeral director can transfer the deceased to the care of the funeral home

Death while overseas

If a New Zealand resident dies overseas, your preferred Funeral Director can help you understand the options in regards to arranging for the person’s body or ashes to be repatriated (brought back to New Zealand)

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