Care at the End of Life - After Death
autopsy is the thorough examination of a body after
death to help determine how and why a person died. Autopsies are not performed
as frequently as they have been in the past, especially when the death is
An autopsy is often not needed to determine the cause
of death when a person dies of a disease or condition that had been diagnosed.
If a diagnosis and cause of death is unclear, some families may wish to have an
autopsy done. This can provide family members with information about diseases
or conditions that they also may be at risk for developing.
members should find out the cost of an autopsy before one is arranged. For more
information, see the topic
- Should I Have an Autopsy Done on My Loved One?
Grieving the death of a loved one
a loved one's death is a normal, healthy reaction. It is a gradual process that
helps people begin to accept their loss and to adjust to life without their
loved one. It often takes 2 years or more to go through the most intense
emotions of the grieving process. Although the pain of grief fades over time,
the sense of loss after a loved one's death never completely goes away.
People experience grief physically and emotionally in their own ways.
After a death, it is common for survivors to wonder if their grief is normal.
Shock, denial, anger, and guilt are all common reactions after the death of
someone close. For example, a person may feel angry toward other family
members, a higher being, or even at the person who died. Or survivors may feel
guilty because their loved one had a long illness and they are relieved that
the death finally occurred. These all are normal
reactions to loss.
Survivors need to be patient with themselves,
and they need to seek help and support from others.
Grief counseling may help some people who are having
difficulty with the grieving process.
For more information about
surviving the death of a loved one, see the topic
Grief and Grieving.