When Death Occurs

No matter if a death is sudden, or if it something that was foreseen, 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 24 hours after death.

When death occurs at home or a place of business

If the person was not under hospice care or the supervised care of the family physician, EMS
(911) should be called. Law Enforcement may also be dispatched. The medical examiner must release the body before a funeral home can do anything.   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 your choice of funeral home has been provided to the hospital or nursing home, they will call the funeral home.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. If you have not been contacted by the funeral home in a reasonable time frame you may wish to call them yourselve. Some times communication channels are dropped and the funeral home does not get notified.

Also you should know that federal law requires the hospital to contact the organ donor organization prior to the release of the decedant. This organization must talk to a family member about donation before the remains are released to the funeral home. If the family agrees to donation, donor services will make arrangements to obtain the donated organs. Normally funeral arrangements can proceed with out very much delay, but it is a factor that must be considered.

When death occurs out of town, out of state, or out of  country

Regardless of the place of death, a notification to your local funeral director will provide you with one more person on your team, looking after you. Pugh Funeral Home is a member of several professional organizations, and as a member we know reputable funeral directors thoughout the country, and even overseas. By letting us contact these persons first, you can be better assured of getting first class professional assistance. Most arrangements, including making casket and other merchandise selctions can be made via email or other electronic means. If the death occurs out of country the US Embassy will be there to assist in the repatriaction of the remains.

Informing a Funeral Director

A telephone call to the funeral home, even before everything has been cleared with the proper authorities can be a wise choice. The funeral director can keep track of all these processes making sure there is no unduly delays.  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 will also help you notify the employer and insurance company of the deceased to 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 try to meet with or at least contact the 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 death certificate.  This includes:

  • Full Name and Address
  • Marital Status
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Social Security Number
  • 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

The funeral director may also need pertinent documents required to assist you with the the legal paperwork, those documents include:

  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Military Discharge (DD 214)

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 Products
  • Arranging a cemetery plot
  • Preparing an obituary notice
  • Scheduling transportation arrangements

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