What To Do When a Loved One Dies

What to do when someone dies: a funeral planning checklist

We know how difficult losing a family member or friend is and how overwhelmed you can feel. The responsibility of funeral planning can be challenging, but Dignity Memorial® professionals have extensive experience working with people in the midst of grief.

When someone dies, there are many decisions to make: where to hold the funeral or memorial service, whether to have a traditional funeral or a modern celebration of life, whether traditional burial or cremation is more fitting, which funeral home to choose and so much more. There’s a lot to consider, and your funeral planning adviser will guide you every step of the way, assisting you with all the details of a memorial service or burial. You can also use the following funeral checklists to help guide you.

Before your funeral planning meeting

A funeral planning meeting, sometimes called a funeral arrangement conference, is the time for us to plan a tribute fitting of the individual. We will talk about your family’s traditions, your loved one’s wishes and any religious requirements you might have. We’ll discuss what should be included in an obituary, what elements would mean the most in a funeral or memorial service and more.

Before your funeral arrangement meeting, think about the following:

  • Who will be the main point of contact for the funeral home? Is it you or someone else? Decide who will be in charge of communicating with the funeral home and funeral director.
  • Who will be there to support you? It is helpful to have a close friend or family member at the arrangements conference for emotional support and to take notes for you.
  • Were there any arrangements made ahead of time? If your loved one prepaid for funeral arrangements, purchased cemetery property, or even simply wrote down preferences and wishes, gather the applicable documents and bring them to the funeral planning meeting.
  • What elements should be included in the funeral? What are your family traditions? What religious rites are required? What kind of funeral, burial or permanent memorial will best honour your loved one’s personality and life views? From a faith-based funeral followed by a cemetery burial to a no-holds-barred celebration of life followed by a fireworks display containing cremated remains, we specialize in creating personalized services.

A cup of coffee and eyeglasses rest on a newspaper, representing Father's Day.

Funeral arrangement conference checklist

At the funeral arrangement conference, we will begin the process of planning a funeral and discuss options for burial. We will ask questions about your loved one in order to help you plan the most fitting tribute. Use the checklist below, and bring the following to the meeting with your Dignity Memorial professional:

  • Clothing, including undergarments (these items will be used to dress your loved one if you are planning a viewing or prefer special clothing for a cremation or casket burial)
  • Eyeglasses and jewellery (these items may remain with your loved one or be removed and returned after the service)
  • A recent photograph (for cosmetic purposes, if a viewing is planned)
  • Social Insurance
  • Life insurance policies
  • Names and contact information for 6 to 8 pallbearers, if applicable
  • A collection of approximately 30 photos we can use to create an Everlasting Memorial™ digital archive and a multimedia scrapbook

Death certificate information

From the information you provide during the funeral planning conference, we will initiate the original death certificate. In most cases, it needs to be signed by a physician, who will also indicate the cause of death. The certificate then goes to the health department for registration and recording. The original certificate is retained by the health department, which issues certified copies. The following checklist details what we need:

  • Your loved one’s full name
  • Social Insurance
  • Date and place of birth
  • Address at the time of death
  • Marital status and surviving spouse’s name, if applicable
  • Father’s name
  • Mother’s full name, including maiden name
  • Place of death
  • Highest level of education and occupation

Coping with the death of a family member or friend isn’t easy, but when you choose a Dignity Memorial provider, we pledge to help you plan a fitting tribute, handling all of the details so that you can be with friends and family when you need it most.