Polk County Medical Examiner

What do I do when a loved one dies?

What do I do when a loved one dies?

The first thing you need to do is take care of yourself. A lot of information will be shared with you and you will need to make several decisions. The following is a suggested list to help guide you and your loved one through this process:

  • When notified of a loved one’s death, involve your family, friends, and clergy for support and comfort. They will be able to assist you in making sense of this tragic and sometimes sudden news.
  • You will need to select a funeral home to assist you in making funeral arrangements and to coordinate the final disposition of your loved one’s remains.
  • Once you have chosen a funeral home, the funeral director will make arrangements to pick up and transport your loved one’s remains back to the funeral home following the autopsy.
  • Keep track of any and all business cards given to you by law enforcement, county medical examiner, ambulance, and funeral home personnel.
  • Start a file or folder to correlate all paperwork and information that will be shared with you as a result of your loved one’s death.
  • Finally, remember to check in on yourself. Stress can come into one’s life quickly and unexpectedly. Do not be afraid to use resources available to you in your community or visit our list of resources.(Where to go for help)
Classes for children dealing with a death of a loved one
Classes for retired adults ("GRAVE matters")

Drake University RaySociety Lifelong Learning


Contact Us

To report a death call (515) 286-3333
1801 Hickman Rd
Des Moines, Iowa 50314
(515) 286-2102 (Days)
(515) 286-3333 (Other times)
Fax: (515) 286-2208