Death and Dying Information

The Department of Health supports individuals and families and connects them to resources as they plan for their own death or cope with the death of a loved one.


Information is available for individuals, families, and loved ones about hospice care and organ donation. Local bereavement organizations may also help with the grieving process.


The Office of Vital Records registers, files, and maintains death records, issues copies of death certificates, and publicizes death data. The Office of State Medical Examiners screens deaths for public health significance and performs autopsies. The Office of Health Professionals Regulation oversees the licensing and regulation of funeral directors and embalmers.

Legal Authority

The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act and the Health Care Power of Attorney Act allow adults to control decisions related to their future medical care. Rhode Island law also allows an individual to designate a Funeral Planning Agent, regardless of their relationship to that person. Rhode Island has laws governing death certificates, and the Department has a separate policy related to the pronouncement of death.