If you find your spouse has died, who do you call?

A fellow caregiver asked...

If you find your spouse has died, who do you call?

Expert Answer

Ed Markin, BS, MBA, PhD, is the director of research for the Alzheimer's Disease Research Foundation and author of more than a dozen books. For the past 15 years, Markin has operated the Funeral Help Program.

You asked 'who do I call if my spouse dies?' and the answer will largely depend upon how death occurred. If it was an anticipated death, say the spouse had in-home hospice care for a terminal disease or condition, your hospice care provider should be able to advise. If the death was unexpected, from misadventure (accident), suicide or homocide you'd need to call the police first. Generally calling 911 will get you the information and coordination you need at this point.

DO not call a funeral home until A) cause of death has been determined by competent medical professional (this will vary from state to state) and B) you have discussed funeral arrangements with family and/or friends. Once the body is in possession of a funeral home you OWE them, even if they just take it to the medical examiner's office or morgue, and they may hold the body until paid in full.