When Death Occurs

No matter if a death is sudden, or if it something that was a long time coming, the loss of a loved one makes us feel emotional and overwhelmed.  No amount of preparation can fully prepare you for the death of a loved one.  When you are in a heightened emotional state, even the most basic decisions can seem staggering.  The following is a rough guideline of what needs to be done within the first 24 hours after death.

When a death occurs at home:

Northview is available to attend a residence regardless of the hour.  It's important to know that the funeral home cannot transfer an individual until that person's physician, a coroner or other authorized person has made a pronouncement of death.  Some family doctors will attend a residence to make this pronouncement but this is something that must be discussed with your physician in advance of a death at home.  More frequently you will have to notify your local police service who, in turn, will dispatch police to the residence and notify the on-call coroner. Sometimes a pronouncement will be made by a Registered Nurse with an EC (Extended Class) designation.  This may occur when an individual has been enrolled in the E.D.I.T.H. Program (Expected Death in the Home). When a pronouncement is made in this manner it is the physician's responsibility to deliver a completed Medical Certificate of Death (Form 16) to the funeral home thereafter.  When your doctor or a coroner has completed this certificate at a residence it is to be given to the funeral home staff when they arrive to transfer that person's body. 

When a death occurs at a hospital/nursing home/hospice facility:

The staff of a care facility such as a hospital or a nursing home will notify you and the necessary authorities immediately after a death has occurred.  If a funeral home has been provided to the hospital or nursing home, they will be notified at the time of death.  If you are present at the hospital when the funeral director arrives, they will ask a few questions about the deceased’s wishes and set up a time to come into the funeral home to make arrangements. However, if you are not present a funeral director will contact you by telephone to discuss these arrangements.

Informing a Funeral Director:

Once everything has been cleared with the proper authorities, the next call you place should be to the funeral home.  This is when you set a time to meet with a director who will assist in planning a service, completion of necessary documents, transferring that person's body (if not already done), composing a death announcement and choosing a suitable casket, cremation container, urn, burial vault, etc. Funeral directors are here to help and advise you and will work very hard to relieve the stress and logistics involved in funeral planning.

Meeting a Funeral Director

You should meet with a funeral director within 24 hours of a death to begin to make final arrangements for your loved one. Deciding on these final arrangements may seem like a very daunting task, especially when you are in heightened emotional state.  Our funeral home staff have years of experience dealing with these issues and strive to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Making Arrangements:

The Funeral Director will gather information required to register the death.  This includes:

  • Full legal name of deceased
  • Complete address of deceased
  • Marital status 
  • Date and place of birth
  • Father’s name, Mother’s name (including maiden name) and place of birth for each parent
  • Name of spouse
  • Occupation or 'Type of Work Done Most of Working Life'
  • Full name and address of executor or next of kin

If no pre-planning has been done, necessary arrangements need to be made for the funeral service. These include:

  • Scheduling the location, date and time of the visitation and funeral service
  • Selecting burial or cremation
  • Choosing a casket, cremation container, urn or burial vault
  • Arranging a cemetery plot
  • Preparing an obituary notice
  • Scheduling transportation arrangements

A funeral director will guide you through all of these steps, using your wants, needs and desires as a foundation to create a service that is appropriate for your family.  From here the funeral services can be personalized.  Did your loved one have a favorite sports team?  What was their favourite type of music?  For what activity was your loved one best known?  Recalling fond memories assists with the grieving process and will help honour the life of your loved one.