Many questions and concerns can come up
between the time of death and when the family sits down to make
arrangements. Below is helpful information on what you may be able to expect or actions that can be taken when that time comes.
Once the Death Has Occurred
Depending on where the death has occurred,
there will be different steps taken to contact the funeral home. If the death is at a hospital or while on
hospice, please check with the staff as to when the funeral director can be
contacted. If the death was
unanticipated, call 911 first to go through the proper emergency procedures.
Keep in Mind: The funeral director or answering service may ask questions to be better
prepared for transport and preparation.
- Have any pre-arrangements been made
with the funeral home?
- Has the body been released by medical
personnel / emergency services?
- Are there any family members who wish
to see the deceased before transport?
- If so, when would you like for the
funeral home to arrive?
- What are the family’s desires for
services? Is embalming or cremation
- Has the family given permission to
embalm if needed?
- If the body is located at a residence,
are there steps? Where is the deceased
- What size is the deceased?
- Where should the funeral director park
upon arriving at the location of the deceased?
- Who is the family’s point of contact
and what is a number where they can be reached?
- Is there a church or clergy member that
could be contacted on the family’s behalf?
Please feel free to notify the funeral director of any other questions or concerns you may have during this time.
The funeral director will arrive with a
removal vehicle, usually a hearse or van, within an hour or so of being
notified. The family should be given an
estimated timeline and informed of any possible delays (distance, traffic,
weather, etc.) during the initial call.
The funeral director’s equipment will include
a removal cot, sheets, gloves, and other items necessary to make a safe and
dignified transfer from the location of the deceased to the removal
vehicle. Before beginning the transfer,
they will check with the family as to their wishes to leave the immediate area,
stay and observe, or even assist in the removal. There is no right answer. Family and friends should do what they are
The body will be typically wrapped in a sheet
or placed in a pouch for transport.
There are buckles, similar to a seatbelt, that will secure the deceased
to the cot. Finally, a zippered cover
will be placed over the deceased. This
is all done to provide safety and dignity to the deceased.
The funeral director will bring paperwork to
be filled out by the family. These forms
often include authorization to embalm, authorization to cremate, a property
form (for any items or clothing being taken with the deceased), and notice of
Keep in Mind:
Some families like to send some items with the deceased at the time of
removal. These Include:
- Clothing and undergarments for the
deceased to wear during transport
- Clothing and undergarments for the
deceased to wear during services
- Jewelry (including wedding rings,
glasses, rosary, etc.)
- A recent photo of the deceased, which
can be very helpful for the preparation of the deceased and obituary
- Blankets, pillows or bed sheets
None of these items are required, but if they are included, please
communicate with the funeral home where each should go (example: bed sheets should be returned, transport
clothing can be discarded, etc.) The
funeral home will provide a property form to record all items being taken with
Before the director leaves, it is a good idea to have a plan in place
for the next steps. When and where will
arrangements take place? Does anyone
need to be contacted (clergy, other family)?
Does the family have some tentative service plans in place already? If there are other questions, feel free to
ask them as well.
Sometimes after the funeral director leaves, new questions or thoughts
arise. Many also feel compelled to start
making “arrangements” now – coordinating flowers, food, participants, etc. Feel free to write down any desires or ideas
you might have to be shared with your funeral director at the time of
arrangements. They will be happy to address
any concerns, help coordinate the different components of the service, and take
care of any other details on your behalf.