When Death Occurs

No matter if a death is sudden, or if it something that was a long time coming, the loss of a loved one makes us feel emotional and overwhelmed.  No amount of preparation can fully prepare you for the loss of a loved one.  When you are in a heightened emotional state, even the most basic decisions can seem staggering.  The following is a rough guideline of what needs to be done within the first 24 hours after death.

When death occurs at a residence

If the person was not under hospice care, the police will have to be notified immediately.  The police will be dispatched to the home and place the call to the coroner/medical examiner and/or Paramedics whom may officially pronounce the person deceased.  From there the coroner/medical examiner will take the body (if they determine it is warranted).  The coroner/medical examiner must release the body before a funeral home is able to remove remains from a home for a death that was not expected or the deceased was not under home nursing care.   If the person was under hospice care, contact the hospice representative (usually a  Nurse) if they were not present and they will notify family members what the proper procedures are to follow.

When a death occurs at a hospital/nursing home/hospice facility

The staff of a care facility such as a hospital or a nursing home will notify you and the necessary authorities immediately after a death has occurred.  If a funeral home has been provided to the hospital or nursing home, they will be notified at the time of death.  Our preference is to arrive at the facility where the person passed at a time when the family has already left.  By the time of our arrival the family has comfortably said their goodbyes and should not feel rushed at such a time.  Upon the initial contact to the funeral home, the director will ask about what the wishes may be and schedule a time to come to the funeral home to make arrangements, of course this would be if the funeral has not been Prearranged which is highly recommended for peace of mind.  If prearranged basically the director can actually even save you any extra steps by confirming your plans as previously arranged.

Informing a Funeral Director

Once everything has been cleared with the proper authorities, the next call you place should be to a licensed funeral director.  Funeral directors are here to  obtain a death certificate, transport the body, and in the event pre-planning was not done, select a casket/urn and arrange the funeral/memorial service.  The funeral director will also help you notify the employer and insurance company of the deceased to assist with those arrangements.  Funeral directors are here to help and advise you and will work very hard to relieve the stress and logistics involved in funeral planning.

Meeting a Funeral Director

You should meet with a funeral director within 24 hours of a death to begin to make final arrangements for your loved one.  Deciding on these final arrangements may seem like a very daunting task, especially when you are in heightened emotional state, but, funeral home staff have years of experience dealing with these issues, and strive to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Making Arrangements

First the Funeral Director will gather information required for the death certificate.  This includes:

  • Full Legal Name and Address
  • Marital Status
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Place of Birth (City, State and/or Country)
  • Date Birth
  • Highest Level of Education
  • Father’s Name, Mother’s Name (including maiden name)
  • Name of Spouse (if married or widowed)
  • Occupation and Employer
  • Social Security Number (if applicable)
  • Veteran's Status and Discharge papers (if available)

The funeral director will also need pertinent documents required to do all the legal paperwork, those documents include:

  • Most recent bank Account Statements ( if applying for assistance from State)
  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Last Will (if available)
  • Picture (s) (one main one and 20-90 others for a Memorial Video tribute prepared by the firm)

If no pre-planning has been done, necessary arrangements need to be made for the funeral service.  These include:

  • Scheduling the location, date and time of the visitation and funeral service
  • Selecting burial or cremation
  • Choosing Funeral Products such as casket, vault, stationary, etc.
  • Arranging a cemetery plot
  • Preparing an obituary notice (if applicable)
  • Scheduling transportation arrangements

A funeral director will guide you through all these steps, using your wants, needs and considering your financial position, he or she will take into consideration all your desires as a foundation to create a memorable funeral for your loved one. From here the funeral services can be personalized.  Did your loved one have a favorite color?  What was their favorite type of music?  What activity was your loved one known best for?  Recalling fond memories assists with the grieving process and will help honor the life of your loved one.