Time of Death

Unavoidably, the time of death will arrive. If you suspect your loved one has passed, notify the hospice provider right away.

What are some signs that death has occurred?

Here are a few things to look for if you suspect your loved one has passed:

  • No rise and fall of the chest
  • Significant discoloration of the skin
  • Jaw may be dropped and eyes may be open
  • Pupils do not respond to light

Who should I call?

While your first instinct may be to call 911, call the hospice agency instead. The hospice nurse will come to the home or facility to provide support and confirmation. It's the nurse’s responsibility to confirm death.

What can I do while waiting for the hospice nurse to arrive?

If you’re alone, you may want to call a neighbor, family member or friend to be with you during this time. Be prepared to let the hospice nurse know of any special traditions or cultural beliefs that need to be honored.

What happens once the hospice nurse arrives?

After confirming death, the hospice nurse will make a series of phone calls to designated officials, such as the coroner’s office. They will then coordinate the transfer of your loved one to your chosen funeral home. The nurse will remove any tubing and help get your loved one ready for transportation.

What happens with remaining medications and durable medical equipment?

Your hospice team will coordinate the retrieval of any remaining medications and supplies. The durable medical equipment provider will make arrangements to remove any
medical equipment. ■

Time of Death

Click on a frequently asked question below to learn more.

Family members may sit for days and hours at their loved ones bedside to be there at the time of passing, but then when they leave the room for a short time, their loved one passes. This is a common experience. Some say that this is the choice of the dying and nothing to feel bad about.

We must acknowledge the many moments we are there for our loved one and not feel bad about the moments we are not.

After being contacted by the hospice nurse, a representative from the funeral home will take your loved one into their care.

The representative will generally introduce themselves to the family and give an idea of the next steps to expect.

The representative will then respectfully transport your loved one to the funeral home.

Following transport, generally, the funeral home will call the caregiver to set up a time for the family to make final arrangements.

This is a personal choice, but know that it can be very difficult, and many hospice staff and funeral home staff recommend against it.

It’s often best for family members to say goodbye to their loved one and then step away out of sight. 

Do you still have questions?

Contact a hospice provider in your city for any unanswered questions you may have about hospice care.
Find a Hospice
Purchase your copy of the Hospice 101 Booklet!
Get The Booklet