When A Death Occurs

What you need to know

What to do when a death occurs

When the death of a loved one occurs, it not only affects the survivors, but the friends of the survivors. We hear questions all the time such as, “What can I do to help them?” or “What should I say?” Trained professionals, clergy, relatives, and close personal friends find it difficult to console someone close to you who has suffered a loss. We have put together some helpful suggestions you can do to help your loved one or friend through a difficult time, as well as etiquette words to say or not to say.

  • Death in a Medical Facility: When the death occurs at a hospital or nursing home, the medical staff should take care of all necessary legal steps. Notify the medical staff of the funeral home that is handling the arrangements. Please note that some facilities require the FAMILY to contact the funeral home. Be sure of who will be in charge of making that call.

  • Anticipated Death at Home: In this situation, notify Hospice of the funeral home that will be serving your family, they will then take care of all necessary legal requirements. Many times, families will pre-arrange services with us, before the time of death. Taking this step helps reduce stress and anxiety that can come with the death of a loved one.

  • Unanticipated Death at Home or Elsewhere: In these situations, immediately call 911. The emergency medical personnel will then determine the appropriate steps to be taken. If asked, tell emergency personnel which funeral home they should contact. We will then work with them to coordinate transport and contact the family.

  • Death Out of State: If the death occurs outside of Wisconsin, you should call O’Connell Family Funeral Home FIRST. We will then coordinate with a local funeral home at the place of death. Calling an establishment at the place of death first may incur more fees and costs.

Once the initial contact has been made, one of our staff will contact you with a few basic questions. These are simply to allow us to serve you better.

Questions asked might include:

  • Have any pre-arrangements been made with our funeral home?
  • Will we need to prepare your loved one for viewing? (permission to embalm)
  • Was the deceased a member of a church?
  • Is there a church or clergy member that we should contact on your behalf?
  • When would be a good time for your family to meet with us and make final arrangements?

Once an arrangement time is set up, our staff will meet with your family and discuss the finer details of the services. Information will be needed for paperwork (death certificates, military forms, etc) and biographical information will be needed for obituaries and memorials.

Some of the items and information that might be helpful to bring to the arrangement include: Full legal name

  • Full legal name
  • Home address
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Father’s name
  • Mother’s name (including maiden name)
  • Highest education
  • Occupation
  • Place of burial (if applicable)
  • Clergy name and phone number
  • Survivors (names and relationships)
  • Clothing for the deceased (not necessary for cremation services)
  • Jewelry for the deceased (glasses, make-up, special lipstick, etc & instructions)
  • Picture (for hairdresser, obituary & cosmetics)
  • Pictures and Music for Memorial DVD (if one is desired)
  • Insurance policies, original documentation if possible (if applicable)
  • Discharge Papers – DD214 (if a veteran)

We realize that this information is not always readily available. If there are any problems with gathering anything, please let us know and our staff will be happy to assist you.