First Steps to Follow After a Death
When a loved one dies, it can be devastating and overwhelming. There are so many details to take care of and sometimes it is hard to know just how to proceed. Contacting a funeral director right away can be a big help. It is the funeral director's job to help make this process as easy on you as possible. A funeral director should be sensitive to your needs and have good listening skills. A good funeral director will look out for your best interests and help guide you through a process that contains many important steps.
The person must be declared legally dead and the proper authorities must be contacted. After which, the body may be transported to a Funeral Home.
When someone dies, that person must be declared legally dead and a death certificate must be filled out by a physician. In most cases the physician or other medical official is the only one who can legally pronounce death.However, if someone is terminally ill and in hospice care, the hospice nurse can also make the call.
If someone dies in a hospital, the funeral home can be directly contacted and the body will be taken to the hospital morgue to await transport. It is the responsibility of the family to make all the necessary arrangements with the funeral home regarding the transport of the body to the chosen funeral home.
If someone dies in a nursing home the process is the same, unless there is no one available at the nursing home to pronounce death and then the body must first be taken to the hospital before being taken to the funeral home.
If someone dies at home, the police must be called first and then, if cause of death does not need further review, the body may be taken directly to the funeral home. If the death is unexpected, the body must first be taken to the morgue for an autopsy. If a death occurs in a public place, the police are called and then the body is taken to the hospital before being released to the funeral home.
Collect all the information for the death certificate.
When someone dies, there are several pieces of information that will need to be provided to the funeral home. You will need the full name and social security number of the deceased. You should also provide the full names of the deceased's parents and their occupations. The dates and place of birth for the deceased as well as pertinent family members will be needed as well. You will also include the deceased's place of work, occupation, address of workplace, and marital status. If applicable also provide the deceased's Veteran's claim number or discharge.
Make important phone calls.
The following is a list of calls which should be made right after a death occurs:
- Call 911 to report the death (unless death occurred in a nursing home, hospice care facility, or hospital);
- Call the deceased's doctor or care nurse ;
- Call the funeral home of your choice to begin funeral and service arrangements;
- If needed or required for insurance purposes, call the county coroner;
- Call a religious figure (minister, priest, rabbi, etc.) if needed;
- Call the Social Security office if you do not know the social security number the deceased.
- call the deceased's landlord and employer
- make sure to close all bank accounts, credit cards and utility contracts
- contact the post office and stop or forward all mail
Determine what kind of funeral service and burial you wish to have.
There are many things to consider when planning a funeral and many options for services. Sometimes the deceased has a plan or wish in place, or has made pre-arrangements which can make the process a little easier. Once you have contacted a funeral home, an appointment will be set up to discuss your funeral plan options and/or the pre-arrangements made by the deceased. The funeral director will also need some of the same information needed for the death certificate, such as the official time of death, date of birth and occupation of deceased, along with the name of the deceased's primary care doctor. The funeral director will also ask you to bring in the clothing and jewelry you wish for the deceased to wear for the burial. There are many different types of funeral services available and many opportunities to customize a funeral service or memorial service so it meets your family's needs, both emotional and financial. The funeral director can help you decide which is the best choice for you. Options include a traditional burial service, direct burial, cremation, memorial services, and direct cremation.
Notify friends and family of the death and of the plans for a service.
It is important to notify friends and family of the death and any plans for a service. Phone calls are the quickest way to notify people, but many families will also include a printed or written announcement that is mailed to everyone, especially those out-of-town. There are also two different types of notices available for the newspaper. One of those is the death notice, which is paid for by the survivors and contains a list of services being provided along with day, time, place and circumstance of death. This notice can also include whatever instructions are available for sending flowers or making a contribution to a charity in honor of the deceased. The newspaper can also decide to print an obituary which contains a list of survivors and more detailed information on the deceased. This is usually written by the surviving family members and can be a wonderful tribute to your loved one.
Consider hosting a social gathering after the service.
This is generally coupled with a meal and can be an excellent time to reconnect with family and friends and celebrate and honor the deceased's life. This service can be hosted at a home, church or other location of your choice and is generally a more relaxed time for families and friends to spend some time together after a funeral service.