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, call 911 immediately. The police and ambulance will be dispatched to the home and place the call to the coroner/medical examiner. From there the coroner/medical examiner will determine whether further action is necessary. The coroner/medical examiner must release the body before a funeral home can be involved. If the person was under hospice care, contact the hospice representative of the death first and they will notify you of 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. The funeral home needs to hear directly from you (the family, family representative, legal representative or friend) at the time of death. If you are present at the hospital when the funeral director arrives, they may ask a few questions about the deceased's and your wishes and set up a time to come into the funeral home to make arrangements. However, if you are not present, call the funeral director to discuss these arrangements.
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. 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 as soon as possible 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.
- First the Funeral Director will gather information required for the death certificate. This includes:
- Full Name and Address
- Date and Place of Birth
- Served in US Armed Forces? - Branch, Years, Funeral Home Needs Copy of form DD214 (Honorable Discharge)
- Highest Level of Education
- Social Security Number
- Marital Status (Never married, Married, Widowed, Divorced, Legally Separated)
- Surviving Spouse (Name & Maiden Name)
- Occupation (Job Title, Type of Business, Name & Location of Employment)
- Name of Parents including mother's maiden name
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
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.