A Death has Occurred
Choice Memorial Cremation & Funeral Services
If you were present during the final moments in a loved one’s life, then you’ve been fortunate. We believe that while nothing prepares you for being present at the death of a loved one, bearing witness to the death of a loved one can bring new insights into your own capacity for selfless love and caring, help you to renew or intensify bonds with other family members, find a new respect for siblings, or help in the healing of old emotional wounds. It is a priceless gift – but it’s one you may not truly value until much later.
So, Who Do You Call First?
Whether you were sitting right next to the bed, or were unfortunate to get a call at 2 a.m. with news of a death of someone you loved, chances are your first feelings were of “being numb” and confused. But, if you're responsible for making the funeral arrangements or executing the will, you really can’t give into the shock or grief - you’ve got to move forward, and take care of things.
When someone dies, what you do first depends on the circumstances of the death. When the death occurs in a nursing home or hospice, the staff will usually contact the funeral home on your behalf. You may prefer to make this call yourself. If you are present at the time, the staff should give you and other family members the opportunity to say your good-byes before we come to transfer your loved one into our care. If you were not present, the nursing home or hospice should have asked if you wish to come there before we are called. If the death has occurred at home, and was unexpected, please call 911. If it was an expected death, then your palliative care team should be notified. If the death occurs in a Calgary hospital, you must call the funeral home. The hospitals do not contact the funeral home on your behalf (even though they sometimes tell families that they will).
After the call to us, you – or a designated family member or friend – will need to notify others. We’ve found it will make it easier on you if just a few phone calls are made to other relatives or friends, where you ask each of them to make a phone call or two to specific people. In that way, the burden of spreading the news isn't all on you.
And if you are facing this situation alone, then ask a friend or neighbor to keep you company while you make these calls. In that way, you’ll be better able to cope with the first hours after the death.
When you call us, we will walk you through the information that you will need to gather, and will set up a time to meet to go through the arrangement conference. This arrangement can be made at Choice Memorial, or we can come to your home if that is easier. When you make your initial phone call to us, we will discuss any questions or concerns that you have, and will ensure that you are prepared for the next steps. After your initial phone call, we will make preparations to transfer your loved one from the place of death to our funeral home.
If Applicable, Call the Employer
Was your loved one employed? Then, you'll need to call his or her employer immediately, to let them know of the passing, and the resulting change in their staffing arrangements.
At some later point (most likely when the funeral is over), you should ask about the deceased's benefits and any pay, which is owed to them, including vacation or sick time.
Also ask if you or other dependents are still eligible for benefit coverage through the company. And, you might ask whether there is a life insurance policy through the employer, who the beneficiary is, and how to file a claim.
Call the Life Insurance Company
If your loved one had a life insurance policy, locate the related paperwork. Call the agent or the company and ask how to file a claim. Usually the beneficiary (or the beneficiary's guardian, if a minor) must complete the claim forms and related paperwork. Families will often ask us to assist in making the initial calls to the insurance company, and we are happy to do so on your behalf.
You'll need to submit a certified copy of the death certificate and a claimant's statement to establish proof of claim. Remember to ask about payment options. You may have a choice between receiving a lump sum, and the having the insurance company place the money in an interest-bearing account from which you can write checks.
For more information on what's involved with funeral planning click here or contact us.