First Steps - Where do I start?
The first steps and knowing where to turn to especially when it may be the first time of having to arrange a funeral can be a daunting task. The first step is to contact us so we can start taking care of what happens next. We are contactable on our 24 hour care line – Free Call 1300 011 725
When a loved one dies at home and the death is expected e.g. someone who is palliative care, the first person to be called and notified of the death should be the family or treating Doctor, who, if he or she has treated the deceased during the preceding three (3) months, can usually issue a Death Certificate. Next to be advised should be the Funeral Director.
When a death is unexpected, many people will begin emergency resuscitation while the ambulance is on the way. On arrival, the paramedics may attempt resuscitation or may just confirm that the person has died.
At this time, one officer will most likely issue a life extinct form to confirm the death and make contact with the doctor to see if a certificate will be issued or the police as the representatives of the coroner.
When a patient passes away in a hospital a member of the Nursing Staff who will often help the family in completing the formalities to obtain a Death Certificate will usually notify the family of the deceased. Most public hospitals will have facilities for the care of the deceased whilst the necessary documents are reviewed. Generation Funerals will organise with the Public Hospital to transfer your loved one into our care and will let you know when this take place.
Many Private Hospitals do not have the facilities and will need to notify us shortly after the death, so appropriate care of the deceased can be immediate. They will organise interim paperwork whilst the legal documents are organised. The hospital will need to know who you would like to engage for the funeral service. You will just need to advise them of your choice being Generation Funerals.
When a person passes away in a Nursing Home, the nursing staff will assist in organising the necessary paperwork and will contact your chosen funeral director.
If you did not nominate a Funeral Director on admission into the Nursing Home you will be asked of the Nursing staff of your choice. You will need to just advise your choice of Generation Funerals. If you nominated a Funeral Director at the time of the Nursing Home admission and want to change your choice, you can do so by following the steps here – Nursing Home Placement.
Following the sudden or unexpected death of loved one, events may happen so quickly while you are in a state of shock. There are certain procedures that must be followed, this is a legal requirement. If you feel pressured and want to spend some more time with your loved one tell emergency personnel this wherever possible, emergency personal are only too willing to accommodate the need of bereaved families as much as possible.
Generally, only two people can certify a death and issue a Death Certificate: a Doctor (G.P.), or a coroner. If the death of a loved one is: Unexpected, appears suspicious, is accidental, sudden, or the result of suicide, the G.P. will notify the police, who will notify the Coroner and then arrange for the transfer of the deceased’s body to a government mortuary.
THE POLICE VISIT
It is a legal requirement that the coroner investigate ALL incidents of sudden death. No matter how young or old the deceased was, if the death occurred suddenly or unexpectedly, the death must be investigated. The police are NOT sent because of the ambulance officers or anyone else suspect that anyone was involved in the death. It is simply that police are the representatives of the coroner and have to investigate.
It is the job of the police to investigate the circumstances of the death. This will usually involve taking photographs of the scene of death and asking those present to provide a statement that is written down and signed at this time. Alternatively, the written statement may be given at a later time. The police may remove any article that they may feel needs to be investigated. (Eg- Medications, bedding clothing etc) these will be sent to the pathologist for examination. You may request that these items be returned to you at a later time. If this does not happen, you may be assisted in making this request by your chosen funeral director. Once the police investigation is completed there is no reason that you cannot spend time with your loved one.
THE GOVERNMENT UNDERTAKER
The police will contact the government undertaker whose job it will be to take the deceased to the place where an autopsy will be carried out at an appropriate time. The deceased is treated with respect and dignity at all times. In Queensland, the government undertakers is a local funeral director who take the decease to a local hospital or forensic mortuary. You are under no obligation to use the services of the government undertaker to conduct the funeral; they are contracted by the government to convey the deceased. However they can assist you in the funeral arrangements if you so wish.
In ALL cases of sudden and unexpected death were a doctor has been unable to specify a cause of death, the coroner, who has overall responsibility in these cases, will order that an autopsy be carried out. The coroner in Queensland is located in 4 larger centre, Cairns, Mackay, Southport and Brisbane.
Autopsy are performed in large centres by a pathologist. This may not be teh same centre that the coroner is located. An autopsy involves the careful examination of the body externally and internally in an attempt to find the cause of death. Incisions are made in such a way that after they are surgically repaired they should not be obvious under clothing. If you wish to know more about the actual procedures, you can discuss this with the attending doctor or your local GP.
Results of the autopsy may be given to you but this is not always the case and may take several months. You can write to the coroner’s office in your area and request them (Your funeral director can assist you in this). Your family doctor will be able to assist you in understanding any medical terms and findings. The results of some tests made during the autopsy may not be known for several weeks so final findings of the autopsy may not be available for some months after the death.
AFTER THE AUTOPSY
Autopsy results will be conveyed to the coroner who will then issue an Order for Burial. At this time the deceased body can be released into the care of the person who has the order. In most cases, this is the funeral director chosen by the family to conduct the funeral service.
Coroners Court http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/courts/coroners-court
Coroners Brochure – View Here
When meeting with your Funeral Director for the first time
Your funeral arranger is there to support you through the process and make the funeral arrangement as simple and easy as possible
6 things to expect from the first meeting
• Set aside 1-2 hours to meet and talk with your funeral arranger to allow enough time to begin planning the funeral.
• Think about a day, a time and a place that you would like for the funeral.
• Have some ideas about the ceremony itself. Music, flowers, theme, catering, videos etc.
• Burial or cremation: Consider whether you are likely to want a burial or a cremation.
• A viewing: Reflect on whether you would like some time with the person again before the funeral. This time can be held privately, often the day before the funeral or can be part of the ceremony.
• The account and cost: It is normal for the funeral arranger to discuss the account and explain the cost of each item. Your funeral arranger will give you a fully itemised estimate of fees based on what you have agreed upon for the funeral. Most families pay by credit card, cheque or cash before the day of the funeral. Most banks will allow you to access the deceased’s bank account to pay for the funeral and your funeral arranger will be able to advise you on how to do this.
What to bring with you when you meet your funeral director
• Supportive family or friend.
• Information for Death Certificate.
• Clothes for the deceased to be dressed in including perfume, make up or after shave if you wish. A current photo is also helpful to assist with their presentation.
• Credit card / Eftpos card / Cheque book.
• Prepaid funeral plan documents, if any.
• Burial site reservation, if any.
• A list of questions you may have.