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How to Find Out If Someone Has Died

Woman with white lily flowers and coffin at funeral in church

Learning about someone’s death can be devastating. It might be a distant uncle you haven’t seen in years, or a songwriter that has impacted your life. Death is unfortunately hot news on online rumor mills, and sometimes it’s best to find out for yourself if it’s true.

6 Ways To Learn About Someone’s Death

1. Search Engines

Going to Google, Bing, or any other search engine is where we generally begin our research. Finding out whether someone has died is no different. You should type in the person’s name in quotation marks. This tells the search engine to look for the search terms only in the sequence in which you have written them, narrowing your results. Your search might turn up a link to a social media profile, or some other leads to help you find the information you seek. Finding out if a person has died might be as easy as typing in the person’s full name, or the words “death,” “died,” or “obituary.”

2. Social Media

Facebook continues to be the most commonly used social media network. It also remains a popular online space for people to look for long-lost friends or relatives. If the person has had a profile on Facebook in recent years, you will most likely find posts related to their death, if they are in fact deceased. It’s a very common way for people to express their condolences for the person in question.

Dimly lit candles

3. Search For Obituaries

You can Google obituaries just like you would for any other piece of information. They are posted online and available, for free, to the public. In the Google search bar, simply type in the person’s name, along with the word “obituary.” If you know the city or town the person lived in, try searching the online archive of the local newspaper. Major newspapers archive their obituaries and provide search tools to find one they have published in the past. There are many indexes online that list all major newspapers by state, with direct links to obituary searches.

Obituary Websites

Typing obituaries or death records into a search bar will lead you to a variety of services designed to help you find death records. Obitlinkspage.com is a website that helps you find obituaries and death records according to state. It bills itself as a free site, but it will ask for a fee to find any specific information. You might be able to sign up for a free trial if you’re looking for just one piece of information.

4. Search Vital Records

Death certificates are vital records that are issued by authorities after a person has been declared deceased. They include the person’s full name, cause of death, and time of death. They are considered public records, but many states place restrictions on who can obtain a copy. Access is sometimes granted to only close family members of the deceased.

Death certificates are issued by the county the person lived in, so the county records office is a good place to start. The best place to look is the county website, in the section where you can search for vital records. If you are uncertain of the county, seek help from the state where the person died. Many states provide online access to death records.

Senior couple being consoled by lady after a death

5. Family History Searches

Genealogy websites like Ancestry.com are popular places to find massive archives of family records, including death certificates. Ancestry.com provides access to public records including census, church, and burial records to find information on people both living and dead. In some cases, the site can find images of a person’s actual death certificate. Ancestry.com and other similar websites usually charge fees and subscriptions.

6. People-Search Websites

People-search websites like Checkthem.com will find death records or any other public information related to a person. Checkthem finds anything known about a person including birthday, addresses, living relatives, court history, marriages and anything else considered to be a public record. Checkthem has a people-search tool that scours millions of public records to find all available information about a person in seconds.

Two people under an umbrella bringing a teddy bear and flowers to a grave site in the rain.

Searching For Memorials, Cemeteries

There are a few services online that can help you find a particular gravesite. Findagravesite.com searches cemetery information and burial records from around the world. You can plug in search information beginning by name and narrow down your search results by birth date and the year they died. If you can’t find any record of someone you think is probably dead, you might just try searching for their grave. 

Finding Out If a Famous Person is Dead

Many people want to know if their favorite celebrities, or maybe not-so-favorite, are still among the living. There are websites dedicated to this. Who’s Alive and Who’s Dead is one such website. The website takes all the guesswork and Googling out of the task at hand by letting you search by categories. Categories include Actors and Actresses, Musical Performers, and Political Figures. The site also features tidbits for the trivia-minded, like “Mouseketeers: Alive and Dead,” and “Dead Playboy Playmates of the Month.”

Consult With Friends, Relatives

Can you think of anybody who might have been close to the person in question? Social networks like Facebook are good places to reach out to someone who could have the answers. Reaching out about such a subject can be touchy, but sometimes this is the best or the only resource available.