When Death Occurs

No matter if a death is sudden, or 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 loss 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 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 physician immediately after a death has occurred.  If a funeral home name has been provided to the hospital or nursing home, they will be notified at the time of death. 

The staff of a care facility such as a hospital or a nursing home will notify you and the doctor immediately after a death has occurred.  Once you have been informed of the death you should contact the funeral home.  At this time the funeral director will ask a few questions about the deceased wishes and set up a time to come into the funeral home to make arrangements.

When death occurs at home

Often times, arrangements are made with a person's primary care physician and a nursing agency to arrange for them to die at home.  Contact the nursing agency if they are not present, and they will notify the physician and know the proper procedures to follow.  

If the person was not under nursing care, the police will have to be notified immediately.  The police will come to the home and place a call to the coroner or primary care physician.  From there, the coroner/primary care physician will decide what action is necessary.  The coroner/primary care physician must release the deceased before a funeral home can do anything. 

Informing a Funeral Director

Once everything has been cleared with the proper authorities, the next call you place should be to a licensed funeral director.    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, but, funeral home staff have years of experience dealing with these issues, and strive to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Making Arrangements

First the funeral director will gather information required for the registration of the death.  This includes:

  • Full Legal Name and Address
  • Canadian Social Insurance Number
  • Marital Status
  • Date and Place of Birth
  • Father’s Full Legal Name, Mother’s Full Legal Name (including maiden name)
  • Father's place of birth and mother's place of birth
  • Full Legal Name of Spouse (if married, widowed, divorced, common-law)
  • Occupation and Employer (if retired, occupation before retiring)
  • Burial, Cremation or Entombment

The funeral director may also request to see a copy of the last Will of the deceased, indicating the name/s of the legal executor/s (Estate Trustee/s).

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

  • Scheduling the location, date and time of the visitation and funeral service
  • Selecting burial, cremation or entombment
  • Choosing Funeral Products
  • Arranging a cemetery plot
  • Preparing an obituary notice
  • Scheduling transportation arrangements

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