Death of a Loved One
There will always be factors surrounding the death of a loved one that will dictate how a family must respond. These will include, but are not limited to, the cause, location and time of death. The following section will discuss the various locations where death may occur and the necessary steps to be taken.
What Happens When Death Occurs at Home? Who should be contacted?
A physician must be contacted regardless of the circumstances.
The police must be contacted when a sudden, unexpected or accidental death occurs.
A Funeral Director should be contacted. His/her presence would help to relieve the family of the problems and details surrounding a death at home.
A member of the Clergy should be contacted depending upon one's personal beliefs or church affiliations.
After death is pronounced, the police or physician will authorize the transfer of the remains by the Funeral Director, either to the hospital for an autopsy or to the funeral home.
Legally, the services of a Forensic Pathologist or Coroner are required under the following circumstances: When an individual has not been under the recent and regular care of a physician; When accidental death occurs; When death results from something other than natural causes.
It is the legal decision of the Pathologist to request a post-mortem examination, the family cannot object to this request. However, a physician may request an autopsy, the family's consent is required in this circumstance.
Should the death of a loved one occur while that person is traveling, a family may choose from the following alternatives:
- Contact a representative from a funeral home in the community in which the person resides. This is generally recommended, as the Funeral Director will make the necessary arrangements to transport the remains back home. All funeral arrangements could then be made, on a personal basis, with the local funeral home.
- Contact a representative from a funeral home in the location where death occurs. Similar transportation arrangements would then be made by this funeral home to ensure the remains are transferred to a funeral home in the community in which the person resides.
*The above noted alternatives assume that a traditional funeral service would be chosen. Another option would be the cremation of the remains at the place of death with the cremated remains interred or scattered at a later date.
Should the remains be transported home, some preparation and embalming will be necessary to meet the carrier's requirements. The carrier will accept a "shipping container" designed for this purpose or the remains may be shipped in a casket.
Regardless of the country where death occurs, a local Funeral Director would be familiar with or could readily access the rules and regulations associated with the transportation of the deceased. His/her services in these circumstances would be of great benefit.
In a Resident Care Facility?
Many of the residents in these facilities leave specific instructions with the Administrator or Superintendent as to whom they should contact in the event of their death. These instructions should include the name of the funeral home of choice. The Funeral Director would then be contacted and if an autopsy were not required, the remains would be transferred immediately to the funeral home, as morgue facilities do not usually exist in a resident care facility. Family members or resident staff following instructions left by the deceased can then make funeral arrangements.
In a Hospital?
The procedure followed when death occurs in a hospital is similar to that of a resident care facility. However, the transfer of the remains to the funeral home would be more flexible as hospitals have morgue facilities.
Whatever the circumstances surrounding the death of a loved one, the advice, counseling and guidance of a Funeral Director at this emotional time should prove invaluable.