What to Do When Death Occurs

When death occurs, the doctor in attendance will declare the person dead and fill out a death certificate. If death occurs at a time when no doctor is present, call a doctor or a funeral home. They will assess the situation and make the necesary arrangements. Do not call 911. Death in a home can be unsuspected or anticipated. What usually happens in a home is that a spouse is suddenly found dead and the surviving spouse, not knowing what to do, calls 911. This, of course, brings on all the bells and whistles: the police, the ambulance, the emergency response team, etc., causing an unnecessary burden on resources and much confusion.

A Check List

Assuming that the deceased belonged to a Memorial Society and that the matters above have been taken care of, there still remain numerous details, many of which can be taken care of by friends or relatives. On the list below scratch off the items that do not apply and check off the others as they are taken care of. { } Obtain death certificates or burial certificates from undertaker - usually available after the memorial service, or from the doctor. Also have on hand birth/baptismal certificate, marriage certificate or, if applicable, statutory declaration of a common law relationship. { } Ensure there is enough cash available for surviving spouse to cover day to day expenses-eg. withdraw funds from any joint bank account. { } Arrange for cancellation of deliveries, service calls, subscriptions, appointments with doctors, dentists, chiropractors, etc. on behalf of the deceased. { } Decide on the time and place of the funeral or memorial service(s). { } Make a list of immediate family, close friends, employer or business colleagues, or last employer, if deceased was retired. { } If flowers are to be omitted, decide on an appropriate organization to which memorial gifts may be made; e.g. church, library, school, or favorite charity. { } Write the obituary. This often includes age, place of birth, cause of death, occupation or trade, education, memberships in societies, military service, hobbies, outstanding work, list of survivors, and other appropriate information. Give time and place of services. Deliver in person or by telephone to newspapers. { } Notify insurance companies including automobile insurance for immediate cancellation of policies and available refund. { } Notify Old Age Security, Canada (Quebec) Pension, OHIP, Canada Revenue Agency, Spouses Allowance, Widowed Pension Allowance, Ontario Guaranteed Income System, Company Pension Plan, etc. Apply for Canada (Quebec) Pension Death Benefit. { } Notify banks, investment companies, issuers of credit cards, and professional organizations. { } Arrange for family members or close friends to take turns answering the door and telephone, keeping careful records of each. { } Arrange for appropriate child care. { } Coordinate the supplying of food for the first few days. { } Consider special need of the household, such as cleaning, etc. which might be done by friends. { } Arrange hospitality and accommodation for visiting relatives and friends from out of town. { } Select and notify pall bearers and honorary pall bearers, if desired. { } Notify lawyer and executor. { } Plan for disposition of flowers after the funeral (to a hospital, nursing home, or church). Remember that funeral homes may charge for this service. { } Prepare a list of persons to be notified by letter or printed notice, and decide which to send to each. { } Prepare a list of persons to receive acknowledgements of flowers, donations, calls, etc. and send them. { } Arrange for home security (sitter) during funeral home visitation and funeral service because break-ins often occur after the death notice appears in the newspapers. See also https://www.ontario.ca/government/what-do-when-someone-dies

When Death Occurs in a Foreign Country (TUCK THIS INTO YOUR SUITCASE)

The first step a Canadian should take in the case of a death in a foreign country is to contact the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate. You may be hesitant to do this but experience shows that staff at the embassy or consulate can be most helpful and are used to dealing with dramatic situations. Most travel-associated personnel in foreign countries can direct you to the nearest consular office or at least help you find a telephone number or website. The consular staff will help with everything from notifying family, examining the cause of death, obtaining proper documentation, making arrangements for disposal or transportation of remains. Such help is also provided if you are in Canada and are notified of the death of a Canadian relative or friend traveling abroad. If you make the arrangements on your own, you may run into difficulties. For instance, there are rules regulating what type of cremation container you may carry on an airplane! It may also be difficult to obtain the proper documentation that you will need in the future. Do your homework, travel prepared, take along the appropriate email addresses and enjoy your trip. "Death Away From Home" Contacts People at these phone numbers will try to help to contact your funeral director where prearrangments have been made. In the USA: (802) 482-3437 In Canada: (416) 241-6274