Upon Passing

Who Should I Notify?

The first phone calls made upon news of a death will depend on the circumstances. When someone dies in a hospital or other medical care facility, the staff will usually take care of some of the arrangements, such as contacting your funeral home of choice and, if necessary, arranging an autopsy.

You will need to notify family, friends and clergy. It may be easier on you to make just a few phone calls to close relatives and ask them to inform specific people so the burden of spreading news does not rest entirely on you. If you are alone, don’t be afraid to ask someone to keep you company as you make the first phone calls and cope with the first hours after the death.

If a person dies at home or at work, the first call must be made to 911. Any unexpected death occurring without a physician or medical personnel present must be reported to the police.

If your loved one was currently receiving medical care, be sure to notify the doctor. If your loved one was in hospice care, it is not necessary to call 911. You can call the hospice facility directly.

Who Should Come with Me to the Arrangement Conference?

If you are the only next-of-kin, do not feel like you need to make all the arrangements alone. Families often come to the arrangement conference in groups for moral support and to participate in the funeral experience.

What Information Should I Bring to the Arrangement Conference?

When you first call the funeral home, you will probably answer a few general questions about funeral plans – some vital statistics about the deceased, whether there was a prearrangement or a will, the decedent’s or family’s preference for burial or cremation, and possibly your thoughts on what services you’d like to hold. Plans will be finalized when you meet with the funeral director. The following list does not include everything, but it is a general list of things you may want to bring with you to the arrangement conference.

  • Vital information about the decedent —date and place of birth and death, parents’ names, names of pre-deceased relatives and survivors, Social Security number, dates of marriages/divorces
  • Highest level of education
  • Occupation
  • Military information including separation or discharge papers (DD-214), if the deceased was a veteran
  • Any information related to a pre-arrangement, if applicable
  • Place of burial or final disposition if a cemetery plot has been purchased
  • Photographs—one or two recent photographs will be used during the embalming and cosmetizing process
  • Names and phone numbers of clergy or celebrants you wish to involve in the ceremonies
  • Clothing, including undergarments and jewelry or glasses you would like the deceased to be viewed wearing
  • Records of life insurance policies