how will you know

If you're present for the death moment know that it is not an emergency and nothing needs to be done straight away. 

The signs of death include things such as no breathing, heartbeat, no response, eyelids slightly open, pupils enlarged, jaw relaxed and mouth slightly open.

The body doesn't have to be moved straight away and you and your loved ones can help in the preparation of the body if you wish. 

Death is an event in the sequence of nature's ongoing rhythms. - Dr. Sherwin B Nuland

What you need to do

When someone dies there are a few things that need to happen. If your loved one dies in the hospital, hospice or a nursing home many of these things will be taken care of for you and/or there will be someone there to help. If your loved one dies at home you may need to organize these things yourself. Either way it's good to know the steps in the process.

  • legal pronouncement of death
  • transportation of the body to a mortuary
  • arrangement of the funeral
  • notify family, friends and doctor
  • obtain death certificate
  • lodge the will.

When someone dies they need to be legally pronounced dead. This can be done by a doctor, an attending hospice nurse or a local officer of the law. Once death is officially pronounced you can call a funeral home to arrange for the removal of the body - most are available 24 hours.

A funeral home is a person or company that supervises the preparation of the body for burial and directs or arranges the funeral. Once you've chosen your funeral home it's good to meet in person to discuss arrangements - this can happen at their office or you can ask them to come to you. It's a great idea to have someone with you that isn't an immediate family member for the first meeting to ensure you get all the information you need.

And a few things to keep in mind:

  • a body doesn't have to be embalmed as long as the funeral happens within a few days
  • you can rent a casket
  • many offer packages but you can ask for an individual price list too
  • you can supply a vessel for the ashes or specify what you'd like
  • you can change funeral companies at any time.