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HealthInfo Canterbury

What to do when someone dies

This page has links to information in other languages.


When someone you have been caring for dies, you don't need to do anything straight away. You may want to spend time with them after their death – this can be a time of sharing and closeness for family, whānau, and friends.

If they have died in a hospital or hospice, you will need to tell the nursing staff they have died. It will help if you can give them the time your loved one died.

If they die at home

There can be a lot to do when someone dies at home. Consider delegating some of these tasks to family, whānau, and friends who want to help.

Funeral directors

If the death is unexpected

If your loved one was not receiving palliative care or was not in the final stages of a terminal illness, call 111 to tell the Police about the death.

For more information about what to do when someone dies suddenly and unexpectedly, read how to register the death and get a death certificate (all deaths must be registered). Also read the guide to Coronial Services, When someone dies suddenly.

This is also available in Māori, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Samoan and Tongan.

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On the next page: After someone you love has died

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Canterbury DHB and community palliative care specialists. Last reviewed August 2017. Last updated September 2019.


Page reference: 76097

Review key: HIWSD-76097