Death Day Decisions

Fork in the road

There are a few very important action items that will have to be made the day your beloved dies. This is one of the reasons the living so desperately need you. 

  1. Notify family
  2. Where to send the body
  3. What is going to happen to the body
  4. Put a person or close group in charge of everything
  5. Organ donation

The first thing that needs to happen is that you need to let your very special people know what has happened. This should be in person or a phone call if possible.

Once the ambulance arrived and the paramedics (or whoever they were) took over, I quickly called my mother and mother-in-law and told them to get to the hospital, that it was bad. My neighbor followed behind the ambulance. They were there when I received the news from the emergency room doctor.

I’m still not sure of the logistics, but those people you call will begin making phone calls or go to see others in person. It’s like a rapidly organized phone tree. You will need to tell your immediate family.

My younger daughter, the one who had gone for help, was waiting on the back patio with my neighbors’ wife and her daughters. I was blessed that our good friends were also our neighbors. I was able to sit with her and cry as I shared the news. We all cried.

Now, my older daughter happened to be in France that day (yes, France!), and I had the task ahead of me to get ahold of her and to tell her over the phone that her father had died! That didn’t take place until three o’clock in the afternoon. That was eight hours later.

I know that to read this sounds odd, but you need to know where and what is happening to the physical remains of your loved one. If it was unexpected, they may be sending the remains to the coroner for an autopsy. If it was expected, or they were older, or it was not suspicious, they will need to send him to a funeral home. You will need to make the decision of where you want him or her to go.

My husband was to be taken to the coroner’s office to await an autopsy because of his age and sudden death. My job, during the course of the day, was to decide which funeral home would receive him once the autopsy was completed. Once again, things I had never considered.

There is going to be someone there who can step in and help you think through decisions. It may be your parents, your adult children, siblings, or a friend.

Within hours, I had a team assembled, but not of my own doing. I had someone helping me decide who would receive my husband’s remains. My daughter reminded all of us that dad always said he wanted to be cremated. My family and friends contacted legal people for me, began planning the funeral, and my mother-in-law sat with me while I spoke to the organ donation people.

This brings us to perhaps the most important thing you’re going to need to do today. If you beloved was an organ donor, it was indicated on their driver’s license, and the hospital forwarded that information to the proper agency.

You will receive a phone call from them today, and it is vital that you take it!

Time is of the essence. They are going to need to ask you a lot of questions, and I will address those in another post. The short story is that you need to answer those questions and give your consent as quickly as possible so that the process may begin. 

Have someone who can spend the night with you. If possible, have someone who can spend the next few nights with you. You have made it through the worst day of your life, dear one. Rest and prepare for tomorrow.

Julie Martella Avatar

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