Many early decisions involve care of the body.
1. Advising those that need to know.Make a list of immediate family and friends. Consider breaking it into groups, calling one member of that group and asking them to share with the others. This helps share the load.
Notify the employer or employees, secure any major property, advise neighbours, arrange pet care if required
2. Confirmation of DeathA medical certificate must be issued within 48 hours. If the death occurred in a hospital or care facility a doctor will give a legal pronouncement of death. If they passed away at home or elsewhere, call 911.
3. Will and InsuranceAdvise the solicitor to enact all legal requirements around the will, banking, tax and other matters with the administrator of the estate or executor of the will or to enact probate. They may also have a Digital Assets Log.
4. Decide on a Funeral HomeThe doctor or medic who pronounced death will ask if you have a preferred funeral home. If you are in Portland, consider our local providers local providers here. Elsewhere, your physician, friends or family may have recommendations. Take your time to find just the right company.
If family are making many funeral arrangements themselves, they may still want a funeral home to assist with care of the body. If you wish to handle body care, this organization has helpful advice and guidance here
Funeral homes charge a fixed service fee that covers some (but not all) tasks. Read our 9 Funeral Home Facts to be clear on what is, and what is not covered.
5. Collection of the deceasedFor practical reasons, this is typically done by the funeral home.
6. Presentation of the bodyThe funeral home will ask for the family’s decision on viewing, and how long until the service. This may (but not necessarily) influence the decision to embalm or not. Read Read Myth: You Must Embalm The Body to better understand your options. Having an open casket may affect interventions to aid presentation such as makeup, hair, skin toning and so on.
7. Disposition of the bodyThis is the decision on burial or cremation. Consider eco-friendly cremation and natural burial options. The funeral home can make bookings on your behalf, including burial plots if this isn’t already arranged.
Our Emerging Trends in Green Funerals article discusses latest eco practices.