Information and Resources for Families

Information for families who have experienced

the loss of a loved one


When you have experienced a loss, the staff on the unit will make every effort to offer you comfort and information. There are also Chaplains and Social Workers available in the hospital to provide you with support and assistance. The unit staff can help you get in touch with them.

You may stay at the bedside with your loved one for a short period of time if you wish. A Chaplain can assist with a prayer or provide other spiritual support as desired.

Bereavement Services for the Health System

The hospital will need to know which funeral home or cremation service you have selected. Please give that information to the staff on the nursing unit.

If you have not selected a funeral home or cremation service, the office of Decedent Affairs is available to assist you with information or you may search here:

  Virginia Funeral Homes

US Funeral Homes

Please notify Decedent Affairs once you have selected a funeral home.

Please call the funeral home or cremation service you have selected, speak with the funeral director, and give them authorization to provide their services. Ask them to contact Decedent Affairs to make arrangements for the release of your loved one.

Additional information:

Organ Donation:

If your loved one was interested in being an organ, tissue or eye donor please let the doctor or nurse know right away. The hospital will notify Lifenet Health, the Organ Procurement Organization that serves the hospital. Later, a Lifenet Health care coordinator or representative from the Old Dominion Eye Foundation may approach you to discuss donation.

Lifenet Health web site

Old Dominion Eye Foundation web site


The physician will ask you if you would like us to perform an autopsy to help determine the exact cause of death. The next of kin or legal guardian may give consent for an autopsy or partial autopsy. Autopsies are performed at the hospital and will not delay funeral arrangements. There is no charge for an autopsy for hospital patients.

Medical Examiner Cases:

If the death was caused by an accident, injury or suspicious circumstances the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will be notified by the hospital and a Medical Examiner will investigate the death. This is a legal requirement of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Many of the investigations do not require an autopsy and will be conducted at the hospital. However, if the investigation does require an autopsy it will be performed at the Central District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond.

State Medical Examiner web site

Anatomic Donation:

Whole body donation for scientific study is coordinated by the State Anatomical Program. Acceptance is subject to suitability as determined by the Program.

State Anatomical Program web site


The Office of Decedent Affairs is always available

if you have questions or need information. 

 (434) 924-5018