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The First Thing to do When Someone Dies

July 6, 2023
by ChristinaV | For Seniors

The First Thing to do When Someone Dies ( if it’s an expected death)

by Dr. Sarah Kerr, PhD

If Seniors Helping Seniors can help you in any way, please call (772) 492-8381

The following is a wonderful lesson in how to accept death with grace, love, and confidence.  Seniors Helping Seniors has received written permission to share this with you from Dr. Kerr.

When someone dies, the first thing to do…is nothing.  Don’t run out and call a nurse.  Don’t pick up the phone.  When you know that someone is dying, it’s an incredible privilege and a luxury, in many ways, to have that advanced warning.

When you’re sitting at the bedside of someone you love, and they’re slowly making their transition out of this world, the moment they take their last breath there’s an incredible sacredness in the space when the veil between the worlds is open.

We are so unprepared and untrained in how to deal with death, that sometimes a kind of panic response kicks in.  They’re dead!  Well, we knew they were going to die, so their being dead is not a surprise.  It’s not a problem.  It’s really sad, but it’s not a cause to panic.

If anything, it’s a cause to take a deep breath and just be present to the experience in the room.  What’s happening for you?  What might be happening for them?  What other presences are here that might be supporting them on their way?  If we kick right into “do” mode…we call the ambulance, we call 911, we call hospice, we never get a chance to absorb.

Give yourself 5 minutes, or 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, just to be.  Because you’ll never get that time back again.  And then do the smallest thing that’s possible.  Call the one person who needs to be called.  Engage whatever systems need to be engaged, but at the very most minimal level.  Move, really, really, really slowly, because this is a period where it’s really easy for body and soul to get separated.  Yours, I’m talking about…the living. 

Because our bodies can gallop forwards, but our souls haven’t caught up.  And it’s an incredible gift to yourself, it’s a gift to the people you’re with, and a gift to the dying person, because they’re just a hair’s breadth away.  They’re just starting their new journey in the world without a body, and if you keep a calm space around their body, and in the room, they are launched in a more beautiful way too.  So, it’s a service of both sides of the veil.

If you wish to hear or read more of Dr. Kerr’s teachings, visit her on Facebook at, Dr. Sarah Kerr – The Centre for Sacred Deathcare, where you can watch and listen to her deliver the above teaching.

You may also wish to check out her website at

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