Death is a part of life that’s filled with many uncertainties. You never know where, when, or how you, or someone you love, will die. Losing a loved one can be a very difficult and confusing time, especially if the death was unexpected.
A lot of things need to be done but you never know where to start. It can be an overwhelming experience for the person designated to carry out the funeral arrangements.
Before any decisions can be made about the funeral itself, some calls need to be made first. These calls will depend on the circumstances of the death. If it is your first time being in charge of making the calls after a loved one dies, it might be overwhelming and confusing.
To help make this process easier, in this post we will discuss the various first calls you should make in the event of any death. We will also cover the kind of information you need when making the calls, as well as the importance of calling a funeral home.
Who to Call When Someone Dies?
Death can occur in many ways and at different locations. It could happen in a nursing home due to old age. It could also occur in the hospital or at home due to prolonged ailment. It’s also possible that it could have happened in an accident or encounter.
In each case, there are different protocols to follow in terms of who to call and notify first. The following are the main people to call in the event of death, and the circumstances under which you should call them:
Local Law Enforcement.
The police are among the first people to be called in the event of death, in unknown circumstances. For example, if the death occurred through an accident, the police should be notified immediately.
If a dead body was found in what looked like a homicide or murder, then the police should also be notified.
This is so that an investigation can take place to determine how the death occurred and who the culprit was. The body will also be needed for postmortem, as evidence and to give clues as to how the deceased died.
Not informing the police especially in the case of an accident or murder may lead to you being considered a suspect if an investigation was to be opened.
Another important call to make is to the hospital. It is important for the deceased to officially be pronounced dead. The time of death will be needed for the death certificate as well.
If the death occurred while the deceased was in hospital then there is no need to make the call. If it occurred in a nursing home or hospice, then they will make the call on your behalf.
The hospital should also be notified in case the deceased was an organ donor. Ensure you check his/her driver’s license or advanced directive to see whether they were a registered donor. It’s important to act quickly since organ donation is a time-sensitive matter.
Family Members or Close Friends.
The family is also an important priority in the list of people who need to be called. They should be informed of the loss of a loved one as soon as possible.
That way, they can start making arrangements for the funeral. They can also make arrangements for the temporary care of any dependents or pets that were under the care of the deceased.
In addition, the family is in a better position to know if the deceased had any final wishes or desires before dying. Such information would prove useful when planning for the funeral.
In case the deceased had no family members or wasn’t close to any, then the next best person to call is a known close friend or colleague.
In the case where the deceased had a lawyer then it would be advisable to contact the lawyer in the event of death. The deceased may have made pre-arranged funeral plans that could help the family in planning. This could include any funeral policy and/or documented last wishes.
The lawyer is also in a better position to take care of and secure the major properties that were under the deceased’s name. The deceased may have left behind a will with clear instructions on how the properties should be divided.
Therefore, once the family has been informed it is important to call the lawyers and notify them as well.
If the deceased was a full body donor or requested cremation upon death, then there may be no need to work with a funeral home. You can simply call a cremation company and work directly with them or hand over the body to the research organization where the deceased was registered as a donor.
A funeral home, however, can be very helpful during the planning process of the funeral. They make the burden easier for the family and offer guidance where needed. They can also help you with cremation if necessary.
When Should You Call a Funeral Home?
Most funeral homes are in contact with hospitals and nursing homes so they can be easily informed when their services are needed. It is, however, important to note that while funeral homes can advise you on how to get death certificates, they cannot officially do anything without a death certificate.
The best time to contact a funeral home, therefore, is once the death certificate has been issued. From there the funeral home can help with funeral arrangements, by guiding you through the options you have.
That includes traditional burial or cremation, as well as embalming or refrigeration as preservation methods.
Why Should You Call A Funeral Home?
As mentioned, funeral homes help makes the burden of funeral planning easier. The funeral directors offer guidance and care for the body before its disposal.
They will take care of the cleaning and preservation of the body, which includes embalming and any cosmetics if necessary.
At times, some people make pre-arrangements for their funerals with the help of funeral homes. Therefore, for the family to plan the funeral per the deceased’s final wishes they would need to consult the funeral home.
The deceased may have also taken out a preneed policy with a funeral home to help cover the funeral expenses, so the family would have to call that funeral home in the event of death.
Other Important Calls.
Aside from the calls listed above, one other person you should call to inform about the deceased is the employer in case of any. The employer needs to be made aware of the death of an employee so they can find someone to feel their position.
Also, the employer and other workmates may want to do something concerning the deceased and to show support to the family. You could also call the media and order a press release especially if the deceased was a prominent person.
You’re also meant to call insurance companies where the deceased may have been a policyholder. It could be for the car house or even life insurance.
The insurance company needs to know so they can cancel the policy. Also, the beneficiaries can receive the deserved benefits in the case of life insurance for example.
You also need to call the banks and credit agencies where the deceased had accounts and inform them of the passing. That way the accounts can be closed and the proceeds or savings be given to the named beneficiary.
You should also call the social security administration and the necessary authority in charge of driving licenses. This prevents a case of stolen identity. Also, the SSA can stop any cheque benefits that the deceased may have been receiving.
Information You Will Need When Making First Calls.
When making all these important first calls, to the funeral homes and other mentioned parties, you require some important information about the deceased.
To begin with, the deceased’s details like name, address, and social security number are important. Information about the whereabouts of the remains is also important. Such information includes the name and address where the body is being held.
Their contact number as well as the name and contact detail of the attending physician is also important. The time of death will also be needed especially for the death certificate.
Other than that, as the person in charge of making the call and funeral arrangements, you will also need to provide your details. The details include your name, your address, and contact details as well as your association with the deceased.
When Do You Call the Coroner?
As you may already know a coroner is a government official with the power to order for or conduct an examination of the deceased remains to establish the cause of death.
It is also within a coroner’s jurisdiction to identify an unknown body. Although some coroners are medical practitioners, it is not a requirement.
It may not always be necessary to call and involve a coroner before issuing a death certificate. This is the case only when the death is certain.
There are, however, some situations when a coroner must be involved before a death certificate can be issued. The following are the scenarios that would require the involvement of a coroner:
An unattended death. This means that the death occurred while not under the supervision of a medical physician. This can be either at the time of death or a long time before the event of death.
Uncertain attended death. This applies when the physician is unable to determine the cause of death. This is despite the deceased being under his/her care at the time of death.
Death due to poisoning. This could be through food, direct chemicals, or a drug overdose.
Suspected homicide. This is usually a police case, where evidence is required to help with the investigation. Therefore, the body has to first be examined for clues before its released to the body.
Death occurring due to medical procedures. There is never a guarantee that a person will walk out of a medical procedure alive. Still, an examination needs to be done to prove it wasn’t due to negligence on the part of the medical personnel.
Suspected suicide or accidental death. In such a case, a coroner is involved to establish whether the cause of death was truly suicide or an accident, or if it was intentional murder.
The death occurred under unusual circumstances. For example, if the deceased died suddenly despite being young and completely healthy. Also, if there are no known or visible signs of injury or ailment.
Death is caused by a contagious disease. This can be a public hazard if not discovered on time. Therefore, an examination is required if there is any suspicion that the cause of death was a contagious infection or disease.
Prison death or death while in police custody. In such cases, it is important to establish the cause of death to ensure it wasn’t a murder or attack on the deceased. Also, because it’s part of the protocol.
Death due to occupational causes. This means that the death was caused due to a person’s occupation. For example, a police officer dying in the line of duty. Or a doctor dying after contracting a contagious disease from a patient.
No one enjoys being the bearer of bad news, especially, when it is about the death of a loved one. Having to make the necessary calls discussed in this post can also be overwhelming especially while grieving. Nevertheless, it’s important to inform the right authorities as well as family and legal representatives among other parties.
The funeral homes, help lessen the burden of planning. They also guide you through the confusing time, by informing you what is necessary and where and how to get it done. So, while you may not need to call a funeral home, the services of a funeral director can be helpful.