Part three of our four part Expert Counsel series
First steps after a death during this Corona virus pandemic
If a loved one passes away during this current pandemic, there are a number of steps you need to take allowing arrangements to be made:
• Bringing your loved one into a funeral providers care (*1)
• Figuring out the most appropriate arrangements possible
• If possible, visiting your loved one
Bringing your loved one into your funeral providers care (*2)?
Funeral provider staff will ask you for details of where your loved one is and whether they, or anyone helping you make arrangements, may have had Coronavirus or the associated symptoms.
• If your loved one died at home, in a hospital, care home or hospice, they will arrange for them to be brought into your providers care.
• If your loved one died abroad, your funeral director will discuss your specific circumstances and advise you if and how they are able to help.
Arranging for final disposition, and registration of the death having occurred?
You will need discuss arrangements and register the death of your loved one (each jurisdiction has different laws, so your funeral provider will know what deadline your jurisdiction holds).
Your funeral provider will then need to also procure from the presiding medical authority, the medical certificate of death, which will hopefully be signed with a release, at the place your loved one lies.
Once the arrangements are confirmed as both feasible, and agreeable, you will need to sign some documents, and cover the costs, which now, most places, can also be arranged on line.
After your first appointment, your funeral director will keep in regular contact with you (by phone and/or email), to ensure that you are kept informed at all times.
Visiting your loved one?
You may wish to visit your loved one before the day of the funeral. If you wish to do so, your funeral director can guide you through your particular circumstances and the services they are able to provide.
In your region, they will likely be required to limit the numbers attending to a regionally legally predetermined maximum at any one time, or perhaps to those living in a same household. At-risk groups are likely not allowed to visit. Any viewings will likely be for immediate family only and likely, only one viewing will be available. It likely must also be only during normal business hours, and only by appointment.
If your loved one’s death was related to Coronavirus, they may be unable to allow you to visit their facility, attempting to limit further spread of infection.
(*1) In any ‘free-market’, there are all kinds of providers. Our organization (the Partners In Care Alliance Society) was formed in 1994, by end-of-life-care professionals wanting to work with ethical (family) funeral service providers. If you do not already have an ethical provider, please view our website (P-I-C-A.org), to find our member nearest you.
(*2) Levels of care available can also vary. Though our founding city had no funeral personnel licensing until 1996, Ellen Kearney Crean (the first woman to graduate from the California College of Mortuary Science in 1938, insisted on only hiring embalmers licensed from other Provinces or States. As a result, we were the only funeral home in Vancouver (Canada’s San Francisco), willing to accept victims of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980’s. Levels of care offered to families during this crisis may also vary, according to the individual service provider.