Good morning everyone, and happy New Year! I hope you were all able to spend it with the ones that you love, and I wish you nothing but the best in 2016! I also hope you were happy with 2015, and if you were not, I hope you are able to make the changes necessary to ensure 2016 is a better year.
Anyways, today I wanted to write about what happens if your loved one passes away at home. I will cover the entire process, including who to call, what forms you will need, how we can help, and anything else that comes to mind. I sincerely hope you do not have to ever use any of this information, however I want you to have it in case you do. So here we go, What happens if your loved one passes at home.
So, generally speaking, if your loved one passes away at home it is because they were on hospice, and were also fortunate enough to be able to still be home during this beautiful, final process of life. In a perfect world, the person is older and is finally succumbing to the inevitability of death. In the real world, sometimes the person is young and is finally losing the ultimate battle. In any event, if the person passes at home, you will most likely be in the presence of a hospice nurse. Just recently the law was changed so that an APRN is able to pronounce the death and sign the death certificate. It used to only be allowed by a doctor, so you would have to wait for the doctor to come to your house, and pronounce the death. Once the nurse has signed the death certificate you will then make the phone call to the funeral home. Hopefully this is the point where you dial our number, 1-800-890-9000, and we will start the process. What happens on our end is that you will call and either speak with Luke, Luke Jr, or Tianna, they will confirm the death, get your address and phone number, and let you know someone is on their way. If the death occurs outside of regular business hours, for instance at 3 oclock in the morning, chances are we will be immediately on our way. If the death happens during normal business hours then we will be on our way as soon as we can. Luke will then call whoever is on call, sometimes myself, and we will go to the funeral home and get our van, and we will head right there. A couple of things to remember here are as follows; Once a person passes away decomposition takes effect immediately, and if you are planning on having an open casket wake, you want to get the person in our cooler as soon as possible. The smell starts to get noticeably bad after about 3 hours so even if you really want to spend every last moment with your loved one you hafve to be aware of the fact that a clock is ticking and as it progresses the body will go further along the path of decomposition, and it becomes a rather unpleasant situation rather quickly. That being said, we are always aware of the fact that people want to say their final goodbyes. Because of this, if you have a family member that lives 45 minutes away but really wants to say a final goodbye, please make all of those arrangements before you call us. Speaking from experience of going on many, many house calls, once we get there wew generally like to be in and out of the house as soon as we can.
In speaking of what happens when our staff gets there, I will draw from my own experience of what I do during a house call, as that is really the best source that I have. So, when we get there, typically we will leave our gear in the van and walk to the door. Once inside we will check the location of the body and we will determine what it is we are going to need to make the pick-up as easy as possible. We have a whole variety of differen t equipment ranging from a traditional stretcher to a hand cart, which we use in a situation where the stretcher is just not going to fit. Once we figure out what it is we are going to need, we will ask the family if they want some alone time to say their final goodbye and at that point we will leave and go get our stuff. Please do not hesitate to ask us if you would like some more time, I speak for the whole staff when I say that we are aware of how sad this moment in time is, and we are more than happy to give you time to say goodbye for the last time. Typically at this point I ask what kind of music your loved one liked and I make sure to play that artist during the fcar ride home.
Once we get our gear we will come back inside and go right up to the body., At this point if the family is still there we will ask if they would like to leave the room or not, Actually, we usually recommend that the family leave the room. We do this not because typically speaking, it is a rather unpleasant sight to see your loved one placed from the bed into a body bag, however, I also understand that for some people they want to make sure their loved one is treated with care, or they just want the closure of seeing the final process. In any event, once we get the body in the body bag and on the stretcher, we will walk him/her to the van and slide them in. At this point we will grab the death certificate, make sure that it is signed with the doctors information, and we will be on our way. Before we leave please feel free to ask either of us any question that you may have as all of us are more than happy to answer any question you may have. The entire experience can be very emotional, and speaking for myself, sometimes it even gets us. I have definitely wiped away my fair share of tears walking away form a removal.
So, at this point we have the body in the van, we have left you with our business card, instructed you when to call (if you haven't already), we have taken the death certificate with us, and we will be on our way. Generally speaking, the next business day you will give our office a call and talk to Luke to figure out how everything is going to be handled. From the moment we have the body in our custody, a 48 hour clock starts. In the state of Connecticut there is a mandated 48 hour holding period that starts once the funeral home takes possession of the body. Until that 48 hours is up a person cannot be cremated. During this 48 hours we will drive the death certificate over to the doctors office, no matter where it is in the state, and we will get the certificate signed. Hopefully during the holding period you are able to come down to our office and figure out all of the details with Luke. It is important to note at this point that I generally always recommend pre-paying for your service. However, I want to point out that we can do everything that I have covered so far without any financial contribution from you whatsoever. We will do absolutely everything without a penny out of your pocket. The only thing is that we will not release the ashes until the bill is paid in full. Now, if your loved ones cremation is being paid by the state, we will release the ashes as soon as the cremation is done.