When Death Occurs

No matter if a death is sudden, or 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 helpful guideline of what needs to be done within the first 24 hours after death.

When a 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 /business and place a call to the Coroner.  Once the Coroner arrives on site, he/she will advise and determine whether further action is necessary.  In order for a funeral home to transfer from the Coroner’s office, the Coroner must authorize the release of the deceased.   If the person was under hospice 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 be notified at the time of death.  If you are present at the hospital when the Funeral Director arrives, they will ask a few questions about the deceased wishes and set up a time to come into 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, then you should make an appointment at the funeral home. The role  of the   Funeral Director  is  help you  with obtaining  a proof of death certificate, transport the deceased, and in the  event pre-planning was not done, select a casket/urn ,  arrange the funeral/memorial service, and notify the  employer and insurance company of the deceased to assist with arrangements.   Funeral Director’s will work diligently on your behalf to relieve the stress and the 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 Statement of Death Certificate.  This includes:

  • Full Legal Name 
  • Most Recent Address
  • Marital Status
  • Name of  Spouse/Common Law ( if married or widowed)
  • Ethnicity
  • Date of Birth and Death
  • City and Country of Birth
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Next of Kin /Executor Name and Address
  • Copy of the Last Will & Testament ( if applicable)
  • Father’s Name, Mother’s Name (including maiden name),  and Country of Birth
  • Place of  Death
  • Occupation ,Employer/Industry
  • Passport  ( applicable for shipping)
  • Funeral Home contact information   in other province/country ( for shipping)
  • Cemetery  Name -City, Country  for Burial /Cremation 

The Funeral Director may also require pertinent documents to assist with all the legal paperwork for your aftercare appointment, those documents may include:

  • Account Statements
  • Copy of  Marriage License to be certified for Canada Pension Benefits
  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Real Estate Deeds
  • Car and Boat Deeds
  • Stock and Bond Certificates
  • Pre-Nuptial Agreements
  • Post-Nuptial Agreements
  • Loans and Leases
  • Copies of Utilities (Hydro, Cable, Phone etc.)
  • Tax Returns

If the funeral was not pre-planned, there are other matters to consider that may be necessary for your arrangements.

 These include:

  • Scheduling the location, date and time of the visitation and funeral service
  • Selecting burial, shipping or cremation option
  • Choosing funeral products
  • Arranging a cemetery plot
  • Preparing an obituary notice for the newspaper/radio
  • Selecting  a photo and clothing for your loved one
  • Scheduling transportation arrangements
  • Selection of  flowers /gifts
  • Selection  of memorial  stationary/ keepsake offerings
  • Selection of reception (repass), and catering

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?  Favourite travel destination? What activity was your loved one known best for or supported?  Recalling fond memories assists with the grieving process and will help honor the life of your loved one.