Best Practices

Once the primary notifier makes the notification, loved ones may ask questions. Answer all questions honestly. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer. 

They may ask you their loved one’s current location. They may ask to see him/her. They may ask you what an autopsy is and why it is necessary. Be familiar with the process in your jurisdiction for the NOK to view their loved one. Be prepared with a general explanation of an autopsy so that, if asked, you can respond effectively. 

If at all possible, never leave the NOK alone after the death notification is completed. Ask if there is someone you can call for them, and wait with them until that person arrives. If the NOK does not want anyone to be with them, ask if you can check on them. 

Provide written materials so they don’t have to write anything down. If they need additional contact information, offer to write it down for them. ​

Before you leave the NOK, you can provide the Coping with Grief brochure, which is translated into several languages and can be found at the end of this course in the resource section or on the mobile app. Explain that it contains information that may be helpful to them about grief. 

Ask if you can follow up with them within the next 24 hours. Ensure that you follow up with the NOK when you say you will. If you promise to make contact, do so. Always deliver on a promise.

As the NOK may have many questions, encourage them to write questions and/or thoughts in a notebook. If a criminal investigation is underway, make the NOK aware that any information written in a notebook/journal may be discoverable in court proceedings. ​

  • Answer questions honestly. 

  • Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.”​

  • Ask if there is anyone you can contact​.

  • Do not leave the NOK alone​.

  • Provide the Coping With Grief brochure.

  • Explain the next steps.​