What to Do When a Loved One Dies

Knowing there are caring, capable people who can help you with some of the practical arrangements can help make things a little easier for you at this difficult time. It is also helpful to know what to expect so things are a less overwhelming.


The first thing to do is contact someone who can confirm the cause of death.

This could be the family doctor, if the deceased died at home (as long as this doctor has treated the deceased within the last three months), the attending doctor or superintendent at a hospital, or a registered nurse.

The medical attendant must complete and sign a Notification of Death (BI-1663) which states the cause of death. This notification form is used to get the death certificate from the Department of Home Affairs.

It is important to know if the deceased wished to donate organs, or to donate the mortal remains for medical research. If you do know this, tell the doctor immediately.

Then, contact your funeral directors to make arrangements for moving the deceased.

Thom Kight & Company is on call 24/7 to assist with this. We will explain what needs to happen next and help you start making other arrangements, for example planning the service.


You must report the death to the police in the following cases:

  • When the cause of death is not known for certain
  • Unexpected death in hospital
  • Death due to fire or accident (including road accidents)
  • Death that occurs in a public place, government institution or the deceased’s place of employment
  • Death as a result of actual or suspected suicide, homicide, poisoning or a drug overdose
  • Death that occurs in unusual circumstances

The police will then arrange to transport the deceased to a state mortuary. Here, someone who knew the deceased must identify them. The District Surgeon will then conduct a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death.

Once this has been done, the state mortuary will give the family a release document. This document must then be given to the funeral directors, who can then arrange to move the deceased to a private mortuary.


Contact the South African embassy or mission in the country where the death occurs.

That country will issue a death certificate, which must then go to the embassy or mission.

Contact the insurance company.

If the deceased was travelling and had travel insurance.

Either the embassy or the insurance company will arrange to transport the deceased back home (repatriate the deceased). Thom Kight has extensive experience in international repatriation. Contact us directly if you would like us to be your funeral directors of choice.

Other people to contact.

Other people to contact, besides friends and family, include:

  • Any religious representatives, if applicable
  • The executor of the Will
  • The deceased’s bank/s
  • The insurance company that manages the deceased’s funeral policy
  • Other insurance companies (for life insurance, retirement savings, car and household insurance, and medical aid)

Contact us and we will advise you on what to do. GET IN TOUCH

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We provide high-quality services in line with the Industry's code
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Quality and standards are what bereaved families assume, want, and expect from funeral directors. We are a member of the World Organisation of Funeral Operatives (FIAT–IFTA) and a founding member of the Independent Funeral Directors Association of Southern Africa (IFDA). To maintain high standards, our staff undertakes continued training and reviews professional practice standards.