Chapter 1: When death happens
At the time of death
He knew I was with him holding his hand at the end, and this brings me a great sense of peace.
How will you know that death has occurred?
The most significant sign is that the person’s breathing has stopped. Click the arrows below to read about some other signs.
The face muscles will have relaxed, and there is no movement anywhere.
The pulse cannot be felt, and there is no heartbeat.
The person’s body becomes cool to the touch, although that may take a few hours.
Give yourself some time
Regardless of where the person has died, you may want some final time to be with them. Healthcare providers will usually give some time and space for visitors. If the death was at home and no healthcare providers were present at the time of death, you will need to notify them as soon as possible.
What may help
The healthcare provider or palliative care team member has likely already told you about what happens next. However, if they haven’t, and you know the person who is ill is very close to dying, it’s helpful to ask before the person’s death. This can help you prepare and will be one less thing to worry about once death has occurred.