What exactly do you do when someone dies on you?

So you’re sitting there after a good lunch with the rest of the family and you’re about to offer Great Uncle Eric another cup of coffee when you notice that his head is slumped and there’s a distinct lack of movement. A nudge elicits no response. He certainly looks dead. And there’s no mist on the mirror.

Do you call an ambulance? A doctor? What do you do?

Start CPR and have someone cal 9-1-1 (or in your case, 9-9-9).

Pull out!
Har har. In seriousness though, what exactly are you asking?

“What should you do legally?”

“What is the best way to deal with the social implications of the situation?”

“What have other dopers ever done in this situation?”

“What is the scientific likelihood of him really being dead?”

"What is the psychological impact likely to be for you and everyone else involved?

Call 911, check for airway, breathing, and pulse, and begin CPR. It probably won’t help, but it’ll give you something to do until the ambulance arrives. Even trained medical presonnel have misdiagnosed people as being dead, so I wouldn’t take your mirror test to the bank.

Bill Door: What you would do is say something like, ‘People always say that.’ And when Dead Uncle Eric asks what happens next, you’ll say something like, ‘Don’t you know?’

:smiley: :wink:

Mostly this.

One simply offers the coffee to the next person. No sense wasting good coffee, is there?

I’d be interested in this but I placed the question in GQ for a reason.

This is part of it too.

I deliberately posed the question for an older person to avoid this aspect. I think - though I would stand correction - that when elderly people die of natural causes, apart from their partners who are usually devastated most others realise that it was their time.

Well, when my grandfather died in the middle of the night, he was under hospice care, so Mom called his hospice worker. She came over and called the funeral home to come collect his body (no autopsy or anything needed for an 80 year old man with 6 years of pancreatic and other assorted cancers under his belt) and then she called his primary care physician’s answering service. That one was kinda funny:

“Hello, this is Mrs. Jones from ABC Hospice calling. I need to leave a message for Dr. Smith: his patient Mr. Blake has expired.”

“His patient Mr. Richard Blake has expired.”

“B-L-A-K-E. Richard --”

“Passed on.”

“He’s deceased.”

“DEAD! He’s DEAD. He DIED an hour ago!”


Here I am, 20 years old, first dead relative ever, and I’ve got half of the dead parrot sketch going on in Grandma’s living room. :smiley:

My father, grandmother, and aunt all died at home. My father had cancer, my aunt had MS, and my grandmother was 96. My family just called 911. They sent an ambulance to confirm the death (which in each case was not unexpected) and collect the body. I think the attending physician was called later.

Heck if I know what you’re supposed to do, but here’s how we did it when Dad died. When Mom realized he was probably about to die, she called my youngest sister, who went over and sat with them as he died. Once they were certain he was dead, they called me at work, and I went on over. My brother-in-law was called, too, but I honestly don’t remember for sure if he was there when I got there or not. Somewhere along the line, another sister who lived in the area at the time also arrived, but I’m blurry on that, too. She might even have been there with Dad and the others as he died. Mostly I remember walking in the front door and Dad was sitting in his recliner and he was definitely dead, so I said my goodbye. We sat around in the living room and chatted for a while, mostly about Dad of course.

Then, we figured it was time, so I went to the kitchen and called 911 and told them there had been a death, but I didn’t know if they were the right place to contact. Apparently yes, as an EMS truck, a firetruck and a police car all showed up in short order. I went to the kitchen with the police officer and two of the EMS personnel, and after a brief conversation, they concluded that there had been no foul play and that their business was done. Then we called the funeral home and they sent two men over. We just sat around in the living room with Dad, talking, till they got there. They brought a body bag; it looked like a heavy duty black vinyl sleeping bag with the zipper down the center of the top. They put Dad in it, put him on the cart and wheeled him out. He was cremated, so that was the last time I saw him.

Push them off.

Take his wallet.

Give Great Uncle Eric a nice hat and some dark sunglasses, prop up his head with a 2x4 down the back of his shirt (don’t be squimish about the nails, he won’t mind really), load him up in the car, tie some fishing line around his wrist and loop it through either the jesus strap or over the laundry hook. Then drive around town pulling on the line so Good old Great Uncle Eric can wave good bye at people you pass.

Seriously, call 911 or 999 or whatever is appropriate, they will take care of it from there.

If necessary you may also need to call the morturary to pick up the body. When my mother passed a couple of years ago her neighbors found the body and called 911. The EMT and coroner declaired her dead and left. The apartments called me and I had to call the mortuary to pick her up, then go sit with her until they arrived. YMMV

If you don’t know CPR it is not really a good idea to perform it unless the police operator tells you to and gives you moment by moment instructions.

If he’s just slumped over in a deadish way, and you can’t detect breathing, call an ambulance. I have no idea what the likelihood is, but I know people have been found this way and turned out to be alive.

One of my exes actually had a guy die *IN *him once. He thought the guy had fallen asleep after cuming, so he went to sleep too. Didn’t notice the guy had died till morning. I think he dressed the guy before calling 911.

Another point to consider - if Great-Uncle Eric has a DNR order in effect, I’d just call emergency medical, let them know that you have no signs of life, and need them to confirm it.

If my father had been found like that before his most recent surgery, I am 99% sure that neither my mother nor I would have begun ALS.

Say loudly “Oh no, they killed Great Uncle Eric. Bastards!”

That would have been funnier if it was your uncle Kenny.

A lesson for us all.

Please check your partner is alive after coitus as well as before it.

When my mother in law died in our home (after being bedridden for six years after surviving a stroke), we called her doctor. As it happened his office is a couple of blocks from our house.

Her death was not unexpected (she’d been near death for 10 wks), and the Dr had already prepped us on what we should do.

He came, pronounced her dead and told us to call the funeral home whenever we were ready.

He had previously explained to us that because she was elderly and in poor health, the death would not be ‘unexpected or unexplained’, and so there would be no need for the coroner to visit. He made a point of saying that if me or my husband died unexpectedly it would, of course, be a different story. In that case, both the police and the coroner would likely want to investigate.

She passed in the afternoon and because of my faith I did not want her moved for at least eight hours. Which put us into late in the evening. I felt certain the funeral home either wouldn’t accommodate my wishes or wouldn’t come out late in the evening. I was fine with keeping her with us till the next morning. He told me not to make such assumptions and to call and check with the funeral home. And he was absolutely right, they were more than willing to follow my wishes and come whenever we chose, even late into the night. They really preferred we not keep her overnight in our home, it being heated was their issue.

At any rate, they were very accepting and respectful of our wishes.

They sent an unmarked vehicle, treated her with the same care as if she were alive. Did not cover her over with a sheet, remade her bed and placed a single, long stem red rose on top of it. A very thoughtful gesture that made the empty bed a tiny bit less jarring, for us.

I was shattered and it was something of a blur to me but I remember them being extremely kind and respectful to her and to us and to our wishes.

I’d say if the death is unexpected, call 911.

If, as in the case of someone under hospice care, hospice will handle it. IIRC, the hospice nurse was with my FIL when he died, so she made the appropriate phone calls (to the funeral home, to whoever needed to remove the body, to get a grief counselor over for my MIL, etc) while the rest of us made the phone calls to family and friends.

My dad was under home hospice care, and when he took a turn for the worse, the hospice sent a nurse who kept tabs on him (and provided the kind of mind-bending opioid painkillers they only let you have as a last resort.) We called family and friends, who passed through and said their goodbyes. After that, only my mom and I (and the nurse) were left. Mom and I were kind of taking a break when the nurse advised us he was fading fast. We went in and in a few minutes the nurse said he was dead, although I suspect he was actually dead before we went in and the nurse was fibbing a little in case the thought of him dying alone would have upset us. I am pretty sure he was totally unconscious at the end, so it didn’t really bother me.

He had pre-arranged his funeral. The hospice nurse washed him up and called the funeral home, then they sent a hearse around and took him out on a gurney covered by a white sheet. So we didn’t actually have to do anything at all, except a couple of days later, when we went down to the funeral home to finalize the arrangements (and pay the increase in price that had occurred in the six months since he had set things up :dubious:).

Prearrangement was a good thing for Dad to have done. I really appreciated not having to wonder what he would have wanted done, and having to scramble around trying to line up the services.