What To Do When Death Occurs
Through difficult moments and the days after loss, we’re here to help.
Your mind is spinning in a million different directions right now. That’s why we want to make it easy for you by answering your questions, making the process as simple and straightforward as possible, and educating you on what needs to be done in these situations.
Remember, you are never alone. You can always reach out with questions at any time.
A Death Has Occured
What do we do first?
Whether you received a 2 a.m. phone call with news of an unexpected death or shared your loved one’s final moments after a long illness, your initial reaction to the death likely involved sadness and shock. It doesn’t seem to matter how prepared we are -or aren’t - a loved one’s death often leaves us feeling numb and bewildered. If you’re responsible for making the funeral arrangements or executing the will, shock and grief can be immobilizing. Even simple decisions can be overwhelming.
Making the first phone calls
What to do first depends on the circumstances of the death. When someone dies in a hospital or care facility, the staff will usually take care of some arrangements, such as contacting the funeral home you choose, and if necessary, arranging an autopsy. If the person died at home, notification will depend on the circumstances. If the death was expected, you should notify Hospice. If the death was unexpected, you should notify the authorities, who will determine if further examination or investigation is required.
Whatever the circumstances of death,
one of your first calls should be to a funeral director at Sunrise. We are on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week and we are always available to help and answer questions. Once we have received the initial call, and the deceased person has been released from the hospital or care facility, we will ensure that they are brought safely into our care at the funeral home. We are here to help you get through those first few stressful moments... and beyond.
You may also want to notify Immediate family members or close friends. It may be easier on you to make a few phone calls to other relatives or friends and ask each of them to make a phone call or two to specific people, so the burden of spreading the news isn’t all on you. If you are alone, ask someone to keep you company while you make these calls and try to cope with the first hours after the death. Your funeral director will also make an appointment at a time convenient for you and your family members to meet at the funeral home, and begin the planning process which we refer to as “funeral arrangements.”
Typically, if there are no prearrangements on file, the arrangement process may take anywhere from two to four hours, depending on the decisions that need to be made and the number of people involved in making them. Sometimes, it may take even more time. If the services have been prearranged, the time required will typically be less, as many of the decisions were already made, and paid for, by the deceased.
Widening the circle
Our staff members are experienced professionals who can provide much of the information you need, emotional support and compassionate guidance. While you may ask the director any questions at this time, you will be able to discuss the arrangements in detail later when you meet in person. During this initial call, the funeral director will gather information to be
able to transport your loved one to the funeral home.
The funeral director May ask you several questions, including whether your loved one made any pre-arrangements. The director will also schedule a date and time for you to meet at the funeral home and will let you know what you should bring with you.
Others you will need to call are:
• Family members and friends
• Clergy or other spiritual advisors
There are several other questions that you may have in regards to the death of your loved one:
• Do I have to have embalming?
• Do I need to purchase a casket?
• What about cemetery arrangements?
• Does the family have to engage the services of a minister?
• What type of service should we have?
By contacting our staff, We’ll be able to help answer your questions and assist in making the appropriate plans.
However, one of the best ways to make sure that all of your questions and desires are taken care of is to make pre-arrangements. This is as simple as outlining your wishes, to having all of the details written down and the financial arrangements prepaid. Please contact one of our staff at (218)-727-6869 to learn more about pre-arrangement.
What to expect when you arrive
When you visit us, the funeral arranger will provide you with price lists and guide you through the entire arrangement process, explaining how you can create a memorable personal celebration of your loved one’s life.
The arrangement process may include:
• Preparing and filing the official death certificate
• Scheduling the location, date and time of services or events
• Selecting a casket, urn or other items
• Preparing an obituary notice
• Scheduling vehicles
• Selecting pallbearers
You may also sign necessary authorizations or make arrangements to have them signed by the appropriate family members.
Feel free to bring any photos, a favorite song, or memorabilia so that you and your funeral arranger can discuss how you would like your loved one to be remembered. More and more people today choose to personalize the funeral services they plan for their loved ones. A favorite song, a favorite gathering place, even a favorite activity can all become part of the service.
Our funeral arrangers will listen and assist you in planning a loving tribute that captures the spirit of the person whose life you wish to honor.
To learn more about personalizing the service, please read the ‘How to Honor a Life’ section of this guide. The funeral arranger will discuss personalization with you during your arrangement conference.
The following checklist Will help you remember what information about the decedent and items will be needed when meeting with a funeral arranger.
• Full legal name
• Current address (6 months or longer)
• Social Security number
• Date/Place of birth
• Father’s First, Middle, Last name
• Mother’s First, Middle, Maiden name
• Veteran’s discharge papers (DD-214)
• Recent photograph
• Highest education
• Place of burial (if applicable)
• Clergy name and phone number
• Survivors (name and relationship)
• Insurance policies (if applicable)
• Obituary Outline
Call us at (218) 727-6869, and a staff member of Sunrise Funeral Home will be honored to explain all of the options available to you.
1. Notify the right people
Is the deceased at home or work, or are they under supervised care?
At home or work:
- If on Hospice call Hospice
- Call the police if no one was there at the time of death
- Call the funeral home then the cemetery
Please remember, you can always call us at Sunrise Funeral Home, Cremation services and Cemetery if you are unsure.
Under supervised care:
- Call the funeral home
- Call the cemetery
The staff will notify the rest of the necessary personnel and funeral home on your behalf.
2. Widen the circle
- Begin discussing arrangements with the funeral home
- Notify other family members
- Contact any clergy or other spiritual advisers
3. Answer any key questions about arrangements
Was there a pre-plan in place? If so, your loved one has taken care of all the details and just wishes for you to celebrate their life. If the death is more sudden or a plan is not in place, don’t worry, there are just a few key steps for you to take care of:
- Determine after-life choices
- Do you need embalming?
- Do you need a casket?
- Do you need to make cemetery arrangements?
- Choose the type of service
- Do you need a minister or other clergy member?
- What type of service do you want to have?
- Contact the cemetery for help
Please remember you don’t need to know all the answers - that’s why we’re here, to walk you through anything at all, at any time.
4. Talk to the cemetery
We will walk you through any choices that need to be made and will let you know what you need to bring with you.
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