Whether a death is anticipated or unexpected, it is a very difficult time for those close to the deceased. It is also a time when many decisions need to be taken, often very soon after the death, and this can cause considerable stress.
Our practical guide, below, gives you a quick step-by-step overview of the sorts of things you may need to deal with.
Not all the points on this list will apply to your situation, but many will. If the deceased left specific instructions regarding preferences for funeral and burial arrangements, with a list of people to be notified, your job is that much easier. If not, you’ll need to consult other family members and look for address or phonebooks that can help you with your task.
First things first
If the family doctor is not present or out of hours, contact the local care doctor. The doctor will decide if the local Garda Síochána or coroner needs to be called. In the case of sudden or unusual death, do not move anything until an official pronouncement of death has been made by the doctor. Contact the next of kin, especially those abroad who may have to book flights.
If the deceased held an organ donor card, inform the doctor of this immediately.
Notify others of the death, close friends, relatives, neighbours, employer and work colleagues. Most people in Ireland contact a funeral director for help with funeral arrangements.
Others to notify in the days following the death include:
- state authorities e.g., if the deceased was in receipt of a pension or other form of social security payment or health service
- insurance agencies and financial institutions
- the deceased’s solicitor
If it was the deceased’s wishes to be buried, find out if a burial plot exists and determine its exact location. If you are using a local funeral director, they may help you with this.
Agree the following with the family:
- Will there be a repose? If yes, where will this be held? A family Home or Funeral Home
- Will the body be on view (open or closed coffin)?
- Content for the death notice. Family Members etc.,
- Decide on coffin?
- For cremation determine if you want ashes scattered, buried or kept at home.,
- Do you want flowers or charitable donations (mention in death notice)?
- Decide on prayers, readings, offerings, music and structure of the service
- Decide on who should be involved in the service and remember to ask them in good time.
You may need to cancel some, or all, of the following:
- standing orders
- newspapers & other journal subscriptions
- milk deliveries
- coal deliveries
- telephone and broadband internet connection
- mobile phone
- bin collection
- TV & radio licence
- postal services (or have them re-directed)
If the deceased wanted a non-religious ceremony. Ask your Funeral Director for advice.
Arrange for someone trustworthy to look after the house while you and the family attend the funeral. This is an important measure, to guard against burglary.
Avail of help that others may offer in sincerity and remember to keep a note of who to thank. Jobs that may need to be done include:
- Cleaning the house
- Looking after the children
- Looking after an elderly person
- Watering plants at the deceased’s home
- Taking care of the deceased’s pet