Time of Death

Initial Steps, What Do I Do?

Few of us are prepared when a death occurs and we often need support and assistance both at the initial time of death and throughout the funeral planning process, as well as continued support as we come to terms with the loss.

The majority of deaths are from natural causes and can occur in Hospitals, Aged Care Facilities or in the family home. In most cases, a Cause of Death Certificate will be issued by the attending Doctor.

Once you have contacted Joseph Medcalf, we would recommend that you contact close family or friends to be with you if it is possible at this time. In our experience, having someone close-at-hand is invaluable as you are likely to benefit from the support and help during the immediate hours following the passing of a loved one.


02 9698 2644


Seek Immediate Support

When the death of a loved one occurs, feelings of panic and helplessness may be overwhelming, but remember that you are not alone. It is important to reach out to close relatives, friends, and professionals for the help, support and comfort you need.

The initial telephone call made to a funeral home is known within the funeral industry as the First Call. During this call, we obtain basic information about you and your loved one, and try to guide and prepare you for your next steps. Depending where the death occurred, we may also need to arrange bringing your loved one into our care.

Common Scenarios

The initial steps you need to take when a death occurs vary according to the location of the deceased and the circumstances surrounding their death. Here are a few common scenarios and the typical outcome of each:

At Home

The attending doctor will officially confirm the death and issue a Life Extinct Certificate or Cause of Death Certificate. You can then notify Joseph Medcalf and we can bring your loved one into our care. If a doctor is unavailable and your loved one has been under palliative care, you may use the services of a palliative care nurse who is able to issue an interim certificate.

Aged Care

Most aged care facilities require families to nominate their preferred funeral director when their family member becomes a resident of the facility. In this case, the staff will contact Joseph Medcalf once the family have been notified.

At Hospital

If the death occurs in hospital, the initial contact to Joseph Medcalf is not usually made by hospital staff, but by close family members. Once contact has been made with us, we will then coordinate with the hospital in order to bring your loved one into our care.

Unexpected Death

When a death is sudden or unexpected, a Doctor may not be able to issue the Cause of Death Certificate and the Coroner needs to be notified. This usually means that the Police Service will be required to attend in order to prepare a report for the Coroner to establish the cause of the death.

Preparing for the funeral arrangement

In order to prepare for your funeral arrangements, we recommend that you consider gathering special photos, memorabilia, religious passages or even favourite songs or musical selections. Your funeral arranger can suggest meaningful ways to create a service which follows your express desires.

Grief and loss professionals believe that a memorable funeral helps families to come to terms with their loss and move on through the immediate grieving process. It is our aim to deliver your wishes, and this is one of the differences that we feel stands us out from other funeral service providers.

You may want to put an announcement online or in a local or national newspaper to advise people about the death and provide details of the funeral service. We can assist you with drafting a death or funeral notice and will liaise with the newspaper company on your behalf.