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 home or a place of business

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 a call to the coroner/medical examiner.  From there the coroner/medical examiner will determine if they need to take the body and determine whether further action is necessary.  The coroner/medical examiner must release the body before a funeral home can do anything.   If the person was under hospice or palliative care, contact the hospice representative 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 NOT necessarily notify us at the time of death.  It is important that the person responsible for making final decisions calls the funeral home to authorize the transfer of the deceased to our care;  we are on call 24 hours a day.  

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 help you 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 provide to you an estate checklist and some Government forms to assist in the tasks of the executor.  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 Name and Address
  • Marital Status
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Date and City of Birth
  • Father’s Name, Mother’s Name (including maiden name)
  • Name of Spouse (if married or widowed)
  • Occupation and Employer

You can fill in our "immediate need form" if you wish,  in preparation of your visit with the funeral director.

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

  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Personal Healthcare Number
  • Last Will

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,  a green burial, or cremation
  • Choosing Funeral Products
  • Arranging a cemetery plot
  • Preparing an obituary notice
  • Scheduling transportation arrangements

A funeral director will guide you through all these steps, using your wants, needs and 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 sports team?  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.

Have a question? Ask the Director