Steps To Take After the Death of a Loved One

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In the event that you’re learning of the death of a loved one and you’re responsible for organizing the deceased’s affairs and all of the other post-death arrangements, you may find yourself unsure of where to begin. Take a look below for answers to all of the questions you may have after the death of a loved one.

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Step 1. Depending upon the location of the person’s death…

  • If the person is in a hospital or nursing home, then you do not need to call anyone or do anything until the medical professional confirms the death and permits you to take the next steps.
  • If the person is somewhere that is NOT considered a medical facility, then call the first responder (911). They will take care of everything leading up to the confirmation of death. After this point, it depends upon if the cause of death is apparent or not. There may need to be additional legal processes or investigations. You will have to wait until a medical examiner or coroner permits you to take the next steps. This protocol can be subject to change based on the municipality or state that the death takes place. The aforementioned is the most common of procedures.

Step 2. Contact the funeral home

In many instances, the funeral home may already be selected if there has been some pre-planning. If there has not been, then you will need to select one yourself based on what you believe the deceased’s wishes would be.

While location of the funeral home is certainly a consideration, keep in mind that your funeral director will be helping you in making many difficult decisions over the next few days to weeks. It is helpful to find a funeral director you are comfortable working with rather than just because of convenience or location.

You may also rely on advice from trusted friends/family in the selection of a funeral director as well as the overall reputation of the funeral firm.

Once you have contacted the funeral directors, they will go to wherever the body is located and transport it back to the funeral home for final preparation.

If you are going through this difficult time in your life, then contact Dietrich-Mothershead Funeral Home for compassionate and experienced funeral service planning.

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Step 3. Consult with a funeral director

The consultation, also known as the funeral arrangement conference, will be as soon as possible after the passing of your loved one. This is where many arrangements are discussed and agreed upon with the help of the funeral director. These include general funeral plans, the death certificate, the obituary, payment, and signing of the contract. The person(s) who should be in this meeting are the ones who have the authority to make decisions based on the deceased’s wishes if there have been no instructions left behind. This normally includes a spouse or any immediate family members.

Step 4. Preparing the death certificate

The first thing that will occur during this phase of the consultation is gathering information to allow the funeral director to start a death certificate. The death certificate is an important document used by those who need to work with financial institutions, pensions, estates, and other matters on behalf of the deceased. After getting the required information, the funeral director will then forward it to the medical professional who will complete the medical portion of the death certificate prior to filing it with the local registrar.

What you should have prepared for the death certificate:

  • Complete proper name
  • Birth certificate
  • Birth date
  • Birthplace
  • Social Security number
  • Parents names including mother’s maiden name
  • Method of disposition (burial, cremation, anatomical donation, etc.)
  • Level of education attained
  • Home address
  • Place of death
  • Any relevant family history

Step 5. Writing the obituary

Having all of the above information on hand will also assist you in writing the obituary. The funeral director will certainly help if you have never written one before.

Obituary samples additionally include:

  • A short biographical sketch
  • Any accomplishments
  • Immediate family members, either living or deceased
  • Funeral date, time and location
  • Where to send any gifts or donations in memoriam

For both the obituary and death certificate, the funeral director may also have you fill out a worksheet to simplify the information gathering process. For an example, take a look at our “A Personal Guide for My Family and Loved Ones” worksheet.

Guidelines for Writing the Memorial

Step 6. Arranging the payment

Many funeral homes offer safe and secure methods of paying for many services in advance of their need. During the funeral arrangement conference, your funeral director will provide you with the firm’s price list for services and merchandise.

Following the conference you will be provided an itemized list of funeral expenses.  At this time, arrangement of payment for the services provided will be discussed. The funeral director may also assist you in making claim on life insurance or other benefits that may be available to assist with funeral expenses.

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Step 7. Begin making arrangements for the funeral

During the consultation, the funeral director will also help you in the planning of any type of funeral or memorial service. This planning phase may include preparation of notifications for local media outlets or social media groups, coordination with other local groups such as  religious or other facilities that may host a service, gathering, or reception, and initial contact with the cemetery, if necessary.

Step 8. Choose the form of disposition

Step 9. Choose the type of funeral service

The type of funeral services may depends upon which option for disposition has been chosen. These include:

  • Traditional Burial— This is when the casket with the body is present. It can be either formal or casual, religious or secular. Whatever your wishes, the funeral director can help plan a funeral service designed to create a meaningful tribute to your loved one. Oftentimes, traditional services move to a gravesite. Your funeral director will also help coordinate additional transportation to another site if that is your intention.
  • Memorial — This is when the body of the deceased person is NOT present during the gathering of family, friends, and community at a chapel, church, or other location. For example, if the body is cremated, there may be an urn with the remains present as well as a display of photo(s) and other items representing hobbies, awards, and accomplishments.

Step 10. Choose the time and date of the service

There is no best practice for scheduling the time and date of service. The timeframe is subject to the availability of loved ones, the church, or venue. Your funeral director will assist you in scheduling the service.

Step 11. Ideas for the funeral service

Leading up to the date of the service, the funeral director will work with you and any additional loved ones to plan out what you want prepared for the service.

Things to take into consideration:

  • Music
  • Photographs to be displayed
  • Funeral video
  • Funeral Programs
  • Flower arrangements
  • Scriptures to be read
  • A guestbook that people can sign
  • Transportation before, during, and after the service.
  • Determine who will do certain things like: Reading the scripture, performing the funeral sermon, giving the eulogy, being the pallbearer

Step 12. Contact friends and family

Now that most of the decisions are made, all you need to do is contact whomever you’d like to attend and, if out-of-state, arrange their transportation. An obituary notice or a social media post may also assist in letting people outside of your contact circle become aware of the service.

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headerTwoBegin to HealheaderTwo

A funeral service is more than just saying goodbye, it is a way to begin the healing process after a loved one has passed. It also presents a great opportunity to tell their story and express the values of a life that was well-lived. By gathering as a community in an orderly and supportive environment, the grieving process becomes less of a burden and one that celebrates the joy of life!

When you are going through the difficult process of planning a funeral, you need service that is both experienced and compassionate. Our staff is here to help before, during, and after you have experienced a loss. Contact us for services in De Soto, Hillsboro, Festus, Herculaneum, and surrounding municipalities today.

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Funeral Director

Your loved one’s life should be honored in a way that would make them proud. Our team of caring, compassionate funeral directors is available to help 24 hours a day to help you add the personal touches that celebrate their life.

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Funeral Services

No matter if you want to honor your loved one with a casual ceremony or a formal one, our services allow all attending the service to express their heartfelt gratitude for the part their loved one played in shaping their life.

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Cremation Services

We provided memorial service options for loved ones who choose cremation over a traditional burial.  All of our cremation services include assistance with the permanent placement of the urn at a cemetery or columbarium.

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