A Death Has Occurred
Chapel Ridge Funeral Home & Cremation Centre in Markham has prepared this list to help families who have never had to deal with having a death occur before, and aren’t sure what steps to follow. While we know this is a very emotional and difficult time for you, we hope this helps you and your family to cope, and to make the funeral and related tributes meaningful.
- If the person dies at home, call the attending physician. If you are not sure if the person has really died, you should call 911 and the paramedic can attempt resuscitation. However, if you expected the death, and you wish the person to be able to pass peacefully and without attempts at resuscitation, then do not call 911. The attending physician will come as soon as possible, and if there is no need for an autopsy, he or she will leave behind a medical certificate of death. If an autopsy is required, the coroner (another medical doctor) will arrange the transfer of the deceased to a local hospital or coroner’s facility, and you will be notified when the autopsy is completed. If the person dies in a hospital, long-term care centre, or another seniors’ facility, notify the nursing staff and they will arrange for the attending physician to pronounce the death.
- After the doctor leaves, call the funeral home. If you’re not sure which funeral home to call, there are several things to consider. First, if possible, check to see if the person has pre-arranged or prepaid their funeral. More and more people are doing this ahead of time today, because of the financial and emotional advantages of doing so. If they haven’t, then you can ask for advice from someone you trust – perhaps someone who has had experience making arrangements at a funeral home for their family, or your pastor/minister/priest, your doctor, a nurse, social worker or chaplain. Be sure to choose a funeral home where you feel the staff will be professional and compassionate. Choose one where the location is convenient for you and your family, which suits you in terms of size and décor, where you feel you can trust the staff, and where you feel their values are similar to yours.
- The funeral home staff will arrange to transfer the deceased person to the funeral home. Set up an appointment with the funeral director to go to the funeral home and finalize all the arrangements. You will need to know the deceased’s social insurance number and the names of his/her parents and their birthplaces, in order for the death to be registered. It is also wise to bring a small recent photo of the person’s face for the funeral director for reference, and full clothing for the deceased. You may be able to bring these the next day, if there is time before the visitation or funeral. You should also come prepared to discuss when you would like to have the visitation and funeral service, and give some thought as to who will officiate at it. The funeral director will walk you through all of the steps and decisions you have to make, and help you with anything else you have questions about.
- You will need to decide as a family who you need to call to let them know about the death, and who will make the calls or emails. You may wish to have the funeral director help you write a newspaper notice to let people know about the death and the times and places of the visitation and funeral. If there are people coming to the funeral from out of town or out of country, you will need to schedule the funeral so that they have sufficient travel time. The funeral director can give you a letter or letters for traveling friends or family members to provide proof to employers, immigration officials or airlines that they are travelling to a funeral.
- The funeral director can help you plan a gathering and funeral which meets your family’s needs and preferences, no matter how simple or elaborate, no matter how traditional or creative. Incorporating picture boards, Power Point photo slides or mementos which bring back memories or other meaningful ways of remembering can be considered.
- There are many agencies and organizations which have to be notified of the death in due course, such as banks, insurance companies, government ministries, pension plans, accountants, lawyers, etc. Chaple Ridge Funeral Home has a booklet called Checklist for Families After the Funeral, which will help you know who to contact and how. We also have a Bereavement Resource Guide with the names and phone numbers of professionals and support groups in the community for anyone in the family who is having difficulty coping with their grief. Please contact us if you need further information or assistance.