When A Death Occurs

No matter if a death is sudden, or if it is something that you have been expecting, the loss of a loved one can make us feel 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 distressing.

When a death occurs at home any place other than a health facility.

If the person was not under hospice care, the police will have to be notified.  They come to the home and place a call to the coroner/medical examiner.  From there the coroner/medical examiner may take the body if they cannot contact an attending physician who can inform them of significant health problems causing the death.  The coroner/medical examiner must release the body before a funeral home can do anything.   If the person was under hospice care, generally the coroner/medical examiner will release the body to the funeral home directly.  This means you can call the funeral home directly, without the police having to come, and they will transport the body from place of death to the funeral home.

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 at the time of death if you are not present. If the death occurs at a hospital, the family will need to notify the funeral home. If a funeral home name has been provided to the  nursing home, the funeral home will be notified by the nursing home at the time of death.  If you are present at the nursing home or hospice facility when the funeral director arrives, they may ask a few questions about your wishes and set up a time to make arrangements. However, if you are not present a funeral director will contact you by telephone 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 plan funeral/memorial service. Funeral directors are here to help and advise you and will work very hard to assist you with the logistics involved in funeral planning.

Meeting with the Funeral Director

You should meet with a funeral director within 24 hours of a death to begin making funeral arrangements for your loved one.  Deciding on funeral arrangements may seem like a daunting task, especially when you are in a heightened emotional state.  The funeral director is there to comfort, encourage and guide you through this process.

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
  • Highest Level of Education
  • Father’s Name, Mother’s Name (including maiden name)
  • Marital Status
  • Name of Spouse (if married)
  • Occupation and Employer
  • Veteran information
  • Social Security Number

If no pre-planning has been done, discussion of what type of funeral services will follow.  This discussion will  include:

  • Scheduling the location, date and time of the visitation and/or funeral service
  • Selecting burial or cremation
  • Choosing Funeral Products
  • Arranging for a cemetery plot
  • Preparing an obituary
  • Scheduling transportation arrangements

A funeral director will guide you through all these steps, using your wants and needs as a foundation to help create a meaningful funeral for your loved one.