What To Do When Death Occurs

Through difficult moments and the days after loss, we’re here to help.

Your mind is spinning in a million different directions right now. That’s why we want to make it easy for you by answering your questions, making the process as simple and straightforward as possible, and educating you on what needs to be done in these situations.

Remember, you are never alone. You can always reach out with questions at any time.

1. A Death has Occurred

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.Is the deceased at home or work, or are they under supervised care?

At home

If the death occurs at home with family or friends present a family member should contact the person’s doctor. The doctor will usually issue a death certificate if the deceased has been treated by them in the past and they can confirm the cause of death.

However, if the death occurs in a home and no one is present at the time of death, the police will need to be notified and respond to the home before the deceased is removed from their home.

If in any case you are not sure of who to notify or what to do, you may call us and we will assist you in notifying the appropriate services.

While under supervised care

When a death occurs in a care facility such as a hospital or nursing home, the professional staff will notify you and the necessary authorities. If the name of the funeral director has been left with them they will notify the funeral director at the time of the death. The funeral director will contact you immediately following their notification to help you proceed. However, we suggest you contact the funeral director immediately, so you’ve got the reassurance you need that all is taken care of properly.

Sudden or unexpected death

If a death is sudden or accidental, or the cause of death cannot be confirmed, it is the doctor’s responsibility to notify the police. In these cases, it is important the deceased is not moved or disturbed in any way. The police will contact a government-appointed funeral contractor to transfer the deceased from the place of death to the Coroner’s mortuary.

The Coroner will then investigate and determine the cause of death, which may involve a post mortem examination. This procedure may slightly delay the funeral arrangements until the necessary clearance is obtained. You should contact us as soon as possible so we can liaise with the Coroner’s office and make the necessary arrangements to take your loved one into our care as soon as we are able to.

Death interstate or overseas

If the death occurs away from home, you should contact us immediately so we can make arrangements to transport the deceased home and attend to any legal, statutory or Customs requirements.
If your loved one’s wish was to be returned to their homeland for burial, we are able to attend to the extensive process of contacting government departments for you and processing the necessary documentation on your behalf.

Are You the Responsible Family Member?

We’ve seen it happen time and again. The person making the initial call to our funeral home turns out not to be the one with the legal responsibilities of making decisions related to the care of a loved one.

If the deceased has not expressed their wishes through a written document such as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, or a Last Will and Testament, where the deceased has designated an agent to fulfill their wishes; then the chain of command, formally called the “order of precedence”, is commonly as follows:

  • Legal Spouse/Partner
  • Surviving Adult Child/Children
  • Surviving Parent
  • Surviving Adult Sibling
  • Ex-Spouse
  • Parent of Minor Child

The person designated as the responsible party, whoever they may be, needs to be present to make decisions, and sign documents. If you are unclear as to who is the responsible person in planning a funeral for your loved one, call us.

The Critical Importance of Designating a Representative

If your loved one has yet to specify who they wish to be in control of their funeral service planning, and they are clear-headed enough to do so, now is the perfect time to take care of that task.

This is especially important if they think their relatives will not respect their funeral plans, or if they are on bad terms with them; do not know where they are, or do not have any living relatives.

And, you might mention that appointing a specific person to arrange their funeral who is not a family member, but is deeply trusted, is a good way to ensure that their final wishes are carried out.

As always, if you would prefer to speak to someone directly, please call us at (03) 9329 4024.

2. Widen the circle

  • Begin discussing arrangements with the funeral home
  • Notify other family members
  • Contact any clergy or other spiritual advisers

3. Answer any key questions about arrangements

Was there a pre-plan in place? If so, your loved one has taken care of all the details and just wishes for you to celebrate their life. If the death is more sudden or a plan is not in place, don’t worry, there are just a few key steps for you to take care of:

  • Determine after-life choices
    • Do you need embalming?
    • Do you need a casket?
    • Do you need to make cemetery arrangements?
  • Choose the type of service
    • Do you need a minister or other clergy member?
    • What type of service do you want to have?
  • Contact the cemetery for help

Please remember you don’t need to know all the answers - that’s why we’re here, to walk you through anything at all, at any time.

4. The Cemetery

We will walk you through any choices that need to be made and will let you know what you need to bring with you.

More Resources

Cemetery FAQs

Everything you need to know about funeral and cemeteries.

Read More

Grief Support

How to truly support yourself and others at a time of grief.

Read More

Cemetery Etiquette

Let us guide you through the ins and outs of your cemetery experience.

Read More

Local Resources

Local resources for all your support and planning needs.

Read More