What do I do when a death occurs?

When a death occurs in your family, you will be faced with important tasks and decision-making during a very difficult time. You may not know what to do or when to begin making arrangements, and bearing the responsibility can be overwhelming. Remember that you are not alone: we are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to assist you with the details and offer our guidance.

Call us at:  (765) 288-5061

Most deaths occur in health care institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes. If the death occurs outside of a health care institution the first task is to notify the authorities. Simply dial 911. They will guide your next actions. At some time, the responding authorities or the staff of the health care facility will ask you which funeral home you wish called.

As well as escorting the remains of the deceased to the funeral home and preparing them for final placement, the funeral home can help you with:

  • obtaining death certificates
  • completing the relevant form for Social Security
  • informing all the people and organizations who need to be informed
  • making arrangements for and conducting the funeral or memorial service
  • deciding on whether you want memorial gifts to be made on behalf of the deceased, and whether they should go to a hospice, charity, church, school, etc.
  • deciding on the disposition of flowers after the funeral

Most people are reluctant to ask a funeral establishment for the consumer information they would expect from any other service provider. Be aware that every funeral home is required by law to give you information, including price information, over the telephone. If a firm is hesitant or unhelpful you may wish to search for one that will satisfy you.

Do not hesitate to call several firms. There is rarely such a hurry that you will not have time to select a funeral home as carefully as you would any other service. Outline the type of memorial or funeral you want or that your family has traditionally used. If the person you are talking to is a good listener, is free with information, and is comfortable to talk to – then the firm probably will be supportive of your needs.

What do funeral directors do?

Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. When a death occurs, the funeral director will transport the body to the funeral home, embalm the body as required or requested, sanitize the body, and stay in contact with the family throughout the process. The funeral director will meet with the family to arrange the visitation and service, contact the clergy, church and cemetery, and assist in creating an obituary. The funeral director will also gather the required information for the death certificate, fill out the necessary paperwork for the government and military, as applicable, assist the family with filing insurance claims and make any other arrangements the family requests.

Why have a public viewing?

Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity voluntary.

What is a Disposition?

Final disposition means the entombment, burial in a cemetery or cremation of a deceased human body.

Isn’t burial space becoming scarce?

While it is true some metropolitan areas have limited available cemetery space, in most areas of the country, there is enough space set aside for the next 200 years without creating new cemeteries. In addition, land available for new cemeteries is more than adequate, especially with the increase in entombment and multi-level grave burial.

What are some funeral service options?

  • Visitation night before, body present in a casket, church service next day, earth burial
  • Visitation day of funeral, body present in a casket, church service same day, earth burial
  • Visitation day before or day of, body present in casket, church service, cremation, burial or scattering at a later date
  • Cremation, visitation, church service or memorial, burial/scatter/retain ashes
  • Cremation, memorial service at the funeral home, burial/scatter/retain ashes
  • Cremation, burial/scatter/retain ashes
  • Immediate burial
  • Immediate cremation

What is the purpose of embalming?

Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, slows the decomposition process and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.

Does a body have to be embalmed?

A funeral home normally requires and has the right to require embalming if a public visitation is planned. Additionally, common carrier regulations usually require embalming as a condition for the transportation.

Death Away From Home

When funeral arrangements must unexpectedly be made away from home, and family hearts are filled with mixed emotions, it is difficult to consider costs. If you want to limit costs, the best practice is to contact the funeral home in the area where the service is to take place.

What to Do First

Call Elm Ridge at (765) 288-5061, day or night.

We take charge from then on and make all the arrangements for conveying of the deceased to the local funeral home for embalming and preparation for return to their home state. You only need contact us with some basic information and call us when you return to set a time for an arrangement conference.

For us to assume the costs as outlined the death must have occurred in one of the forty-eight contiguous states and you must call us direct so we can engage our representatives at the place of death. (Do not contact a funeral firm where the death occurs. We must do this.)

The standard receiving policy in most other funeral homes is to give you a credit for the embalming against their standard prices. You must pay all other charges such as transfer casket, transfer container, out-of-town funeral home facilities, professional and staff services, transfer documents and transportation charges. These costs can easily mount up to $1200 dollars or more, depending on the cost of transportation and charges of the out-of-town funeral home. Transportation costs differ and fees are not uniform from funeral firm to funeral firm, so we cannot say exactly how much this might be.

What Do You Save?

We pay all most normal out-of-town costs except cash advances. These normal charges include out-of-town removal service, standard embalming, transfer of remains to airport, outer transfer container, all documents for transfer and burial, out-of-town funeral facilities, professional staff and services. This means your only additional costs are transportation and transfer of remains to the funeral home from the airport. Since we use a lightweight transfer casket and outer container we help to keep the airfare to a minimum.

International Travel

If a family member dies while traveling outside the United States, the U.S. Embassy will come to your assistance. You should call us immediately when a death occurs abroad. We are well versed in the procedures for returning the deceased to the United States.

Other Conditions

If the death occurs outside of the forty-eight contiguous states or your family has already engaged another funeral firm, Elm Ridge Funeral Home will still assist you. Our memberships in national organizations provide us with funeral service contacts worldwide.