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When A Death Occurs

What Do I Do Now?

Someone has died at home, what do I do first?

If the death is not expected call 911 immediately. Let the operator know somebody has passed away and they will arrange for the police, and emergency personnel, to arrive. The police will usually place a call to a coroner who investigates the cause of death further. If the coroner requests an autopsy, the body will be transferred by a funeral home to a hospital (usually Owen Sound or London) where the autopsy will take place. If autopsy is not required, the body will be taken directly to the funeral home.

After an autopsy, and once the coroner is comfortable with the circumstances around the death, the body will be released to a funeral home. From there, the funeral home can arrange to pick up the deceased and proceed with funeral arrangements.

Discussions between family and funeral director can begin at any time after the death. However, arrangements are not usually finalized until the body is released by the hospital.

If the death is expected you should call your palliative care/hospice worker, or hospital, if a representative was not present. Do not call 911, the paramedics are obliged to try and resuscitate your loved one.

Once your loved one has been pronounced as deceased by a health care provider please contact us for the transfer of your family member to the funeral home. Our funeral home staff will ask some basic questions such as: What is the name of the deceased? Where is that person’s body now? Has a health care provider been present at the place of death? Who is calling – your relationship to the deceased, address and phone number? A time will then be set up whereby Nathan and staff will pick up your loved one.

What happens if someone dies after typical work day hours, on a weekend or holiday?

Rhody Family Funeral Home has someone available to take your calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time!

Can we have some personal time before the body is removed?

Most certainly! Take your time. We only proceed with our tasks when you, the family, are ready.

Even when your loved one is at our funeral home you can spend some additional quiet time with your family and loved one. Just let Nathan know your wishes.

Can we help care for our loved one once they have died?

Of course! To care for the deceased upon death is an honour and privilege, a deeply profound and emotionally intense experience for everyone involved. It is a continuation of your relationship with them and gives a real sense of the fulfillment of your responsibility. This can allow for a deeper feeling of gratitude and respect, as well as a further acknowledgement of the reality of death.

Here is one family’s recollection of doing so, “It left us with a sense of having shared in something so extraordinarily special and emotionally rewarding that in the following weeks and months we were able to look back at the experience and benefit from the real feelings of comfort that the memory of it brought to us.”

What happens if someone dies while away from home or on vacation?

First and foremost, call us! Nathan will then walk you through all the options available to you and your family. We have numerous contacts available to us, both within and beyond our borders, to help us reduce your stress. Remember, we are as close as a phone call away.


50 or so Detailed Things to do When a Death Occurs

When a death occurs, the order in which things need to be done often depends on where the death occurred. One thing needs to be remembered: you are in a heightened emotional state. Bring a family member(s) or friend with you when you come to the funeral home, someone who can offer you the support and guidance you may need. Even if a death is anticipated, no amount of preparation can fully prepare you.
Planning a funeral ceremony can be overwhelming. Dozens of decisions have to be made and most people are simply not aware of what needs to be done. Nor do most understand the significance of each decision or the many options available to them. Below is a partial list of the decisions and tasks family members can typically be faced with.


  • relatives
  • friends
  • funeral home
  • clergy
  • lawyer

Accurate information of:

  • date and place of birth
  • parents’ full names and maiden names (and birth places)
  • social insurance number
  • career
  • spouse’s social insurance number, if living
  • spouse’s birth date, if living
  • relatives’ names

Location of:

  • birth certificate
  • marriage license
  • will

Funding of Services:

Is funding a concern? If so, please talk to us so that we can let you know all of your options. Please don’t make this a big concern until you talk further to us.

Choice of:

  • burial or cremation
  • casket or urn
  • open or closed casket
  • cemetery or memorial location
  • cemetery plot, vault or mausoleum

Location, date, time & agenda of:

  • private family viewing
  • special children’s visitation
  • visitation
  • funeral/memorial
  • post funeral gathering and menu (reception)

Choice of:

  • memorial and/or prayer cards
  • type of ceremony (religious, fraternal, secular or other)
  • clergy or celebrant involvement
  • charity to receive memorial gifts
  • death notice wording
  • musician(s)
  • flowers
  • pictures and other memorabilia
  • pallbearers/flowerbearers
  • person(s) to deliver eulogy
  • clothing, undergarments, shoes
  • jewellery
  • final placement of jewellery<
  • ceremony bulletins (programs)
  • special readings, scripture passages
  • music
  • transportation
  • out of town guest arrangements
  • thank you cards
  • keepsake selection

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