- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Facing end of life
- Caring for someone nearing the end of life
- After the death
After the death
Even when death is expected, it’s common to feel upset, sad or shocked.
An expected death is not an emergency, and what you need to do depends on the circumstances.
I had promised Mum that after she died, I would make sure she had her favourite lippy on. I did this at the funeral parlour before the final viewing of her body. She was wearing the dress we had chosen together.
Learn more about:
- What to do after the death
- Funeral and religious services
- Wills and probate
- Financial matters
- Ways to remember
If the person was being cared for at home and was expected to die at home, there is no need to call an ambulance or the police. You can take some time to sit with the person. If you would prefer not to be alone, call a friend or family member. If the person dies during the night, you may choose to wait until the morning to take further action.
When you feel ready, call the person’s doctor and a funeral home. The doctor will sign a medical certificate confirming the death. This is needed to make funeral arrangements. The funeral director can register the death with the registry of births, deaths and marriages in your local state or territory, who will provide a death certificate.
If the death occurs in a palliative care unit, hospital or residential aged care facility, there’s usually no need to rush. You can have time alone with the person before the nurses explain what needs to be done. Some people want to wait until other family members or friends have had the opportunity to say goodbye.
Several organisations will need to be told of the death. The Department of Human Services has a useful checklist called What to do following a death that explains who may need to be notified.
Listen to our podcast on Caring for Someone in Their Last Months
Dr Megan Ritchie, Staff Specialist Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Service, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Gabrielle Asprey, Cancer Support Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Rosemary Cavanough, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Metro South Palliative Care Service, QLD; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Rowena Robinson, Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia, ACT; Helena Rodi, Program Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.