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Unattended Deaths: What are They and How to Handle Them?

Unattended deaths occur when someone dies alone and is not discovered for some time. These incidents can happen due to various reasons, including natural causes, accidents, or suicides. Handling the aftermath of such events is challenging, involving legal procedures, emotional support, and cleanup processes. This guide aims to offer a pathway through the maze of tasks and decisions that follow an unattended death, ensuring dignity for the deceased and providing clarity for the bereaved.

What Constitutes an Unattended Death?

An unattended death happens away from medical or social observation, often leading to delayed discovery. These can arise from natural causes, where health declines unnoticed, or through unexpected accidents. Suicides, too, can be classified under unattended deaths when the individual is isolated. Understanding the nature of these deaths is crucial for addressing them appropriately, recognizing the need for sensitive handling and the importance of professional services in managing the aftermath.

Initial Steps to Take after discovering an unattended death 

The discovery of an unattended death is a situation fraught with emotional and logistical challenges. Here’s a detailed guide on how to navigate these initial steps:

Secure the Scene

  • Do Not Disturb: The importance of leaving everything untouched cannot be overstated. This scene might be part of a larger investigation, and altering it can impede legal processes.
  • Safety First: Prioritize your safety and that of others. If there are any hazards present, such as potential biohazards, it’s crucial to keep a safe distance and prevent others from entering the area.

Call Authorities

  • Immediate Notification: The moment you discover an unattended death, it’s critical to dial 911 or the appropriate emergency number. This alerts the police and medical personnel to take the necessary steps.
  • Wait for Instructions: Law enforcement will guide you through the next steps, which may include waiting for their arrival without entering or altering the scene further. This process is crucial for legal and estate matters that will follow.

Notification of Next of Kin

  • Law Enforcement Role: The responsibility of notifying the next of kin usually falls to law enforcement. They handle this task with sensitivity, ensuring the family is informed in a respectful manner.
  • Personal Notifications: Should you have personal knowledge of the deceased, you may be asked to assist in contacting other family members or friends, a task that requires tact and empathy during such a difficult time.

Call a Professional Cleaning Services

  • Specialized Cleanup: Once the scene is released by authorities, the focus shifts to cleanup. Professional cleaning services, trained in biohazard remediation, are necessary to safely restore the area.
  • Restoration Services: Organizations like First and Last Restoration offer comprehensive cleaning solutions, ensuring that all biological hazards are properly addressed, and the space is returned to a safe, livable condition, providing peace of mind in a distressing situation.

Legal and Financial Considerations

  • Estate Matters: The death of an individual brings to the forefront the need to settle their estate, addressing wills, property ownership, and personal belongings. This process can be complex and requires careful handling.
  • Professional Advice: Navigating the legal ramifications and financial responsibilities after an unattended death often necessitates professional guidance. Estate attorneys or financial advisors can offer invaluable assistance, helping to organize, value, and distribute the deceased’s assets according to their wishes or state laws.


Taking these steps thoughtfully can mitigate some of the immediate challenges faced after discovering an unattended death. While the emotional toll cannot be understated, managing these practical aspects attentively helps in laying the groundwork for the healing process to begin.

Emotional and Psychological Impact

The emotional and psychological impact of an unattended death can be profound and complex, affecting individuals in varying degrees. Those left to manage the aftermath may face intense grief, compounded by the nature of the discovery, leading to feelings of isolation, trauma, and prolonged mourning. It’s crucial to acknowledge these feelings and seek support, whether through professional counseling, support groups, or community resources. Addressing these emotional challenges is a vital step towards healing, emphasizing the importance of compassionate care for oneself and the value of connecting with others who can offer understanding and support during such a difficult time.


In the aftermath of an unattended death, navigating the emotional and practical challenges requires a compassionate and professional approach. First and Last Restoration embodies this ethos, offering specialized biohazard remediation services to ensure safe and respectful cleanup. By entrusting this delicate task to First and Last Restoration, families can focus on remembering their loved ones, secure in the knowledge that the physical reminders of their loss are being managed with dignity and care. In choosing their services, one steps towards recovery, guided by the professionalism and empathy that are crucial during such a profound time of need.

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