When Death Occurs

You may receive a call from a member of the family, a health care professional or clergyman. Knowing the necessary steps to take when a death occurs may assist in relieving a feeling of helplessness.

Pronouncing death

At the time of death and in most cases, the attending physician or coroner will be required to pronounce the death. If the death has occurred at home, the physician or coroner will then advise the family when the deceased may be transferred to the funeral home. The same procedure applies if the death has occurred at a hospital, nursing home or other health care facility.

In some cases, a Coroner (Medical Examiner) will investigate a death. The Coroner may be contacted by a physician, the police or the funeral director. This may occur when someone who has not been under a physician’s care dies suddenly, is killed in an accident, or when death is due to other than natural cause.

The Coroner may, under the law, request an autopsy. The permission of the family or the executor of the estate in not required under these circumstances.

Once the family has been advised that the deceased may be transferred to a funeral home, only the authorized person may give permission for this transfer to occur.

Who can authorize the transfer of remains?

Do I need the assistance of a funeral director?

Funeral arrangements can range from the simplest cremation to very elaborate services, depending on the wishes of the deceased and the remaining family members. Regardless of the type of arrangements you wish to make, the services of a licensed funeral provider will be invaluable. These licensed professionals will guide you through the processes and documentation required, and help you make the right decisions for your loved one. Most people are not equipped to handle the storage, preparation or transportation of the deceased from the place of death; construction of an approved container or casket; obtaining the necessary permits and dealing with the regulations and documentation. Calling a funeral home is your first step.

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British Columbia Funeral Association
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