Honest Funerals

First Steps Upon the Passing of Your Loved One

Notify authorities

If your loved one passed away at home rather than at the hospital, call the treating doctor. If he/she was not under the care of a doctor, call 311 in NYC or 911 if outside of NYC. If the passing was unexpected you will need the police as well as medical assistance.

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Removal of the Remains

If you haven’t already decided on a funeral home, it is better to have your loved one’s remains removed to the medical examiners office. If you authorize a funeral home to remove the remains and later decide to use a different funeral home, both funeral home may charge several thousand dollars to transfer the body.

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Notifying relatives and friends

Keeping relatives and friends up to date and notifying them of the passing can be emotional and draining . With that in mind, it is important to maintain a contact list of who to call and who should call them. Use our Contacts form to make a list of everyone to contact, with their contact information and who should contact each. This can be filled out on your computer and saved so that it can be emailed, or printed and filled in by hand.

In addition to boxes for the Name, Telephone Number and E-Mail of each contact, it has a box for you to assign a Team Member to make the contact. When this list is complete, make copies for the team members who will be making contacts. It will make the process much easier and more certain that everyone who should be contacted, will.

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Create a private family blog

One of the easiest ways to keep family and friends up to date through a long illness, passing, and funeral arrangements is to set up a free private blog. We recommend Google Blogger which can be made private. Assign this task to the most tech savy member of your team. Google provides easy, complete instructions for setting up a private blog.

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If you want an autopsy

An autopsy is a postmortem examination to determine the cause of death of your loved one, their state of health before they died and whether any medical diagnoses or treatment before death was appropriate. The number of autopsies performed in hospitals has been decreasing since 1955. According to Pathologist George Lundberg, this reduction in autopsies is negatively affecting the care delivered in hospitals, because when mistakes result in death, they are often not investigated and lessons therefore remain unlearned. Similarly, a mistake by a hospital or medical provided that they should have addressed may otherwise never be discovered.

If the treating doctor is unable to write a death certificate or when the death is believed to result from an unnatural cause, such as an accident, homicide, malpractice, suicide, or when a person did not have an illness or was not under the care of a doctor at the time of their death, a medical examiner may step in and perform an autopsy. Such autopsy does not require the consent of relatives or the deceased. Additionally, in some circumstances you can request that the medical examiner themselves perform an autopsy.

Where the medical examiner or hospital refuses to perform an autopsy, you can request a pathologist to perform a private autopsy. In New York, The College of American Pathologist maintains a list of board certified doctors who perform private autopsies for a fee. If you are contemplating a lawsuit, your accident attorney may be able to help you arrange for the autopsy. It is important to decide quick preferably within 24 hours of the death.

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