When Death Occurs
Whether a death is sudden or expected, the loss of a loved one is indescribable. When you are in a heightened emotional state, even the most basic decisions can seem staggering. This section seeks to guide you through the immediate hours following a passing.
When death occurs at home or a place of business:
If the person was not under hospice care, you will need to call 911 immediately. EMS will be dispatched to the home and will place the call to the coroner or medical examiner. From there, the coroner or medical examiner will determine whether further action is necessary. The coroner or medical examiner must release the body before a funeral home can do anything. After the coroner or medical examiner releases the body, EMS will bring them to the funeral home. If the person was under hospice care, contact the hospice representative, 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 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 passing. If you are present at the hospital when the funeral director arrives, they will ask a few questions about the deceased's wishes and set up a time to make arrangements. If you are not present, a funeral director will contact you by telephone to discuss these arrangements.
Informing the Funeral Home:
Once everything has been cleared with the proper authorities, the next call you place should be to the funeral home. The funeral home is here to help you obtain a death certificate and transport the body. In the event pre-planning was not done, you will meet with a funeral director to select a casket or urn and arrange the funeral or memorial service. Funeral directors are there to help you and advise you.
Meeting a Funeral Director
You should meet with a funeral director as soon as possible after a death has occurred to begin making final arrangements for your loved one. Deciding on these final arrangements may seem like a very daunting task, especially when you are in a heightened emotional state. Do not worry: funeral home staff have years of experience, and will strive to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
First, the Funeral Director will gather information required for the death certificate. This includes:
- Full Name and Address
- Marital Status
- Date and City of Birth
- Highest Level of Education
- Father’s Name, Mother’s Name (including maiden name)
- Name of Spouse (if married or widowed)
- Occupation and Employer
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
- Arranging a cemetery plot
- Preparing an obituary notice
- Scheduling transportation arrangements
A funeral director will guide you through all of 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? Sharing these memories with the grieving process will allow you to pay tribute to the life of your loved one.