When Death Occurs

No matter if a death is sudden, or if it has been 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 twenty-four hours after death.

When death occurs at home 

If the person was not under hospice care, the police should be notified immediately.  The police will be dispatched to the home and place the call to the medical examiner.  From there the medical examiner will determine whether further action is necessary.  The medical examiner must release the body before a funeral home can do anything.   If the person was under hospice care, contact your hospice nurse if they were not present at the time of death, and they will guide you regarding the proper procedures to follow.

When a death occurs at a hospital, nursing home, or hospice facility

The staff of a care facility such as a hospital or a nursing home will notify you when the death occurs.   If a funeral home has been provided to the hospital or nursing home records, the funeral home will also be notified at the time of death.  If you are present at the hospital when the funeral director arrives, he will ask a few questions about your wishes regarding funeral services and make an appointment for you to go to the funeral home 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 in the event pre-planning was not done, select a casket/urn and arrange the funeral/memorial service.  The funeral director can also help you notify other third parties, such as an employer and insurance company, of the death to assist with those arrangements.  We are here to help and advise you.  We 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 twenty-four hours of a death to begin the arrangement process 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 we 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
  • Social Security Number
  • Marital Status
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • 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
  • Veteran Status ( a copy of the veteran's service record/honorable discharge will be needed)

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 merchandise
  • Arranging for final disposition
  • Preparing the obituary
  • Scheduling transportation 

We 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 there, the funeral services can be personalized.  Did your loved one have a favorite sports team?  What was their favorite type of music?  What activities were those for which your loved one was best known?  Recalling fond memories assists with the grieving process and will help honor the life  and memory of your loved one.  We will strive to make your loved one's funeral service unique, as each person is unique.