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In some cases, loved ones pass away peacefully with an expert on death and dying – like a hospice nurse or doctor – nearby. This person knows exactly what steps to take to ensure your loved one’s body is taken care of respectfully and according to his or her wishes. But what if your loved one passes at home, surrounded by friends and family who have little or no experience with the process? Follow these steps to ensure that this sad life event is handled appropriately and peacefully.
Seek a pronouncement of death.
If your loved one had a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, have it handy to avoid efforts at resuscitation, such as CPR. Call 911 so paramedics can either pronounce your loved one dead (in some states) or transport your loved one to the emergency room for a pronouncement. If the person who passed away was receiving hospice care, contact the hospice nurse instead.
Contact the mortuary or crematorium.
According to your loved one’s wishes, contact the mortuary or crematorium to transport the decedent into their care. You may be asked a few questions about your loved one before a time is scheduled for an Arrangement Conference. Feel free to ask about pricing over the phone, as law requires mortuaries to provide this information when requested.
Notify appropriate parties.
Take time to notify the person’s primary care physician, family, and close friends of his or her passing. When possible, ask those you call to notify others (such as their own children and grandchildren) to ease the burden and limit delay in communication.
Handle urgent responsibilities.
If the deceased was the primary caregiver for children, dependent adults, or pets, make arrangements for immediate care for all parties.
Contact their employer.
Notifying the person’s employer that he or she has passed away and will not be returning to work. Find out whether or not they had an employer-sponsored life insurance policy and whether any pay for worked hours or paid time off is due to the person and when it will be paid out.
There are further steps to complete following the funeral service, like obtaining a death certificate, handling the estate, closing utilities accounts, and discontinuing Social Security benefits. Keep in mind that the more you know about your loved one’s wishes in advance, the easier the process will be.