What Happens When Death Occurs?

No matter if a death is sudden, or if it's something that was a long time coming, the loss of a loved one makes us feel emotional and can be very overwhelming.  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 deceased was not under hospice care, the police will have to be notified immediately.  The police will be dispatched to the home and place the call to the coroner/medical examiner.  From there, the coroner/medical examiner will take the body and determine whether further action is necessary.  The coroner/medical examiner must release the body before the funeral home can take any actions.   If the deceased 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 should notify you and the necessary authorities immediately after a death has occurred.  If we have been designated as the funeral home to the hospital or nursing home, we 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's wishes and set up a time to come into the funeral home to make arrangements.  However, if you are not present one of our funeral directors 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 our funeral home.  Funeral directors are here to help you obtain a death certificates and transport and care for the body.  If the services were not pre-arranged, you will need to meet with the director to arrange for services and to select a casket/urn.  The funeral director will also help you notify insurance companie of the death and assist with those arrangements.  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 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 a heightened emotional state.  Our 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 need to gather biographical information required by the state for the death certificate. This includes:

  • Full Name (maiden name if applicable)
  • Full Address (including county, borough or township, etc.)
  • Marital Status
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Date and City of Birth
  • Highest Level of Education
  • Social Security Number
  • Father’s Name, Mother’s Name (including maiden name)
  • Name of Spouse (if married or widowed)
  • Occupation and Employer

Military status is not required for filing a death certificate.  However, the director may inquire about military service at this time to make the family aware of free official copies available for veterans.   Most veterans (discharged in good standing and with proper documentation) are eligible for free copies of the official death certificate through the Department of Veteran Affairs.  Ask your funeral director for more details on all the benefits available to those who have served our country.

The funeral director will also need pertinent documents required to do all the legal paperwork. Those documents include:

  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Power of Attorney
  • Social Security Card
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage License
  • MIlitary Discharge Documents (DD214)
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Cemetery Plot Deeds

If no pre-planning has been done, necessary arrangements need to be made for the funeral service.  These include:

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 or were they a musician? 
  • What activity was your loved one known best for? 
  • What was their passion or hobby?

Recalling fond memories assists with the grieving process and will help honor the life of your loved one.