WHO TO CALL FIRST

Whether you received a 2 a.m. phone call with news of an unexpected death or shared your loved one's final moments of a long illness, your initial reaction to the death was likely shock. It doesn't seem to matter how prepared we are - or aren't - a loved one's death often leaves us feeling numb and bewildered. If you're responsible for making the funeral arrangements or executing the will, shock and grief can be immobilizing. Even simple decisions can be overwhelming.


Making the first phone calls

What to do first depends on the circumstances of the death. When someone dies in a hospital or similar care facility, the staff will usually take care of some arrangements, such as contacting the funeral home you choose, and if necessary, arranging an autopsy. You will need to notify family, friends and clergy. It may be easier on you to make a few phone calls to other relatives or friends and ask each of them to make a phone call or two to specific people, so the burden of spreading the news isn't all on you. If you are alone, ask someone to keep you company while you make these calls and try to cope with the first hours after the death.


Call a funeral director

Whatever the circumstances of death, one of your first calls should be to a licensed funeral director. We are here to help you:

  • transport the body
  • obtain a death certificate
  • select a casket, urn and/or grave marker
  • arrange the funeral, memorial and/or burial service
  • prepare the obituary
  • help you notify the deceased's employer, attorney, insurance company and banks
  • offer grief support or direct you to other resources

Call the employer

If your loved one was working, you'll need to call his or her employer immediately. Ask about the deceased's benefits and any pay due, including vacation or sick time, disability income, etc. Ask if you or other dependents are still eligible for benefit coverage through the company. Ask whether there is a life insurance policy through the employer, who the beneficiary is and how to file a claim.


Call the life insurance company

Look through the deceased's paperwork for the life policy. Call the agent or the company and ask how to file a claim. Usually the beneficiary (or the beneficiary's guardian, if a minor) must complete the claim forms and related paperwork. You'll need to submit the death certificate and a claimant's statement to establish proof of claim. Remember to ask about payment options. You may have a choice between receiving a lump sum or the having the insurance company place the money in an interest-bearing account from which you can write checks.


FAMILY EMERGENCY

Nothing adequately prepares us for the initial shock of losing a loved one to death. Feelings of panic and helplessness may be overwhelming, but it's important to know you are not alone. It is important to reach out to close relatives, friends, and professionals for the help, support, and comfort you need. Notifying Family & Friends is always an important consideration in the initial tasks to be completed. Call immediate family members first, Parents, Children, Brothers, Sisters and Grandparents of the deceased.  Again, do not worry about waking others. Grief researchers say those close to the deceased feel left out if they aren't told about death immediately. Rely on others to assist you in notifying everyone: do not attempt to do this yourself. It not only helps others through the grieving process to have some responsibility, but also allows you to carry on with other tasks.  Although it may be difficult, telling others of a death it is therapeutic. Saying aloud that a loved one has died, the death is confirmed in your mind - an important step in the grief process.

So much to be done in what seems like so little time. The emotional impact of death understandably makes it difficult to focus on the details that go into organizing a funeral.  Also by clicking on the resource centre on the home page, you open a wealth of information and guidance to assist you through all of your needs.


1.  When death occurs at home, what should we do?
 

2.  If we are on vacation, and a death occurs what should we do?
 

3.  A death of a loved one has died at the hospital, where do we turn?
 

4.  A loved one has died in the nursing home, what should we do first?


Question #1 When death occurs at home, what should we do?

Answer: If the death has been expected, the physician caring for the deceased will be able to pronounce the death and this is the person you should first contact. You can then call the funeral home of your choice to remove the body and follow the personal wishes of the deceased.   
If the death is unexpected, the police should be notified. They will in turn dispatch an officer and contact a local coroner or medical examiner who will then decide the level of investigation necessary to determine the cause of death. They will arrange to have the body transferred to the either a hospital or examination centre if an autopsy is required (at their cost). You may suggest to the coroner or medical examiner the funeral home of your choice to make this transfer, however if you do not or they wish to use their own personnel, you are under no obligation to use the funeral home they choose.  Once the body has been transferred and the examination complete you have the right to choose the funeral home you wish to carry out the deceased's final wishes. If after a preliminary examination and investigation it is determined no further inquiry is necessary, you may then call the funeral home of your choice to remove the body and carry out the deceased's final wishes.


Question #2 If we are on vacation, and a death occurs what should we do?

Answer: If a death was to occur away from the home, i.e. during a vacation or a business trip, then COMPANY_NAME suggests that you do a few things first. 
Call COMPANY_NAME. He / she will take care of making the necessary contact with a reputable firm in the area that the death occurred.

This action will avoid any possibility of becoming involved with a funeral home outside of your residential area that may care little about matters because they feel they will not ever deal with the family again. When calling COMPANY_NAME, we can act as your agent, monitoring and avoiding any possibility of excessive, unnecessary or double-billing possibilities. 

Contact your local police department and they will dispatch an officer to your location immediately so you will not be alone. 

If the death was sudden and unexplained, your local police authorities will make the necessary call to the local coroner to attend to the place of death. A county medical examiner or coroner may be called. 

If you have not called your funeral director, you will have to consider doing so as the body will have to be removed by them or an authorized agent. Regrettably, there have been circumstances where police and or coroners have called a funeral home of their choice. While we will not speculate on the motives, often families find themselves being pressured by a funeral home that was called to the scene.


Question #3 A death of a loved one has died at the hospital, where do we turn?

Answer: Whether or not you are present when the death occurs a health care professional will contact you and ask a few questions. Two of the questions you may be asked, you should be prepared for. 

1. Which funeral service provider will you be releasing the body to, for transfer from the hospital? 

2. Would you like an autopsy performed? Unless the deceased has died unexpectedly, you will have the choice. An autopsy is the thorough examination of the deceased body, to understand and determine the cause of death or any factors that may have contributed towards the cause of death. The information resulting from an autopsy can help researchers in developing cures and medications to assist in the preventions of such diseases. Autopsies are generally performed quickly, as to not interfere with the funeral process, however you may experience some short delays and should check with the health care professional as to when you can expect the autopsy to be completed if a delay could be of concern to you.


Question #4 A loved one has died in the nursing home, what should we do first?

Answer: If you have not called your funeral director, you will have to consider doing so as the body will have to be removed by them or an authorized agent. Regrettably, there have been circumstances where police and or coroners have called a funeral home of their choice. While we will not speculate on the motives, often families find themselves being pressured by a funeral home that was called to the scene.