Ask Your Funeral Director - What do I do if my loved one dies at home ?
By Jason Meidl, Funeral Director at Creston Valley Funeral Services
Summer is upon us and who doesn’t think of ice cream when they think of a hot summer’s day. Everyone has their favourite flavour whether it be rocky road, bubblegum, espresso, or in the case of my simple taste buds, vanilla! We are extremely excited at Creston Valley Funeral Services as a new business will be setting up shop in our parking lot next week and running until the end of the summer. Scooper Duper Ice Cream, run by three young men, will be scooping up and serving cold summer treats all the while wearing their custom superhero capes! We are incredibly happy to support these young men as they explore their entrepreneurial spirit. Check them out on Facebook and come on down and support them.
“What do I do if my loved one dies at home?” – George
There are two types of deaths that occur at the home – the unexpected and the expected death. I will start with the expected deaths. When someone is expected to pass away at home it is because they have been deemed palliative by their doctors. Often that person will have home health coming into the home and assisting with care as well as having in place what is called an Expected Notification of Death Form. With this form in place the family calls the funeral home of their choosing when the death occurs. There is a place to write on the form when they fill it out with the doctor as to their preferred funeral home to call. I have received quite a few calls lately from people asking if they are allowed to change their mind if a funeral home is written down on the form. You absolutely can. It is always your choice who to call regardless of what is written down, whether you call a local funeral home, or in some cases, a funeral home in another city. Anytime that a death occurs in the home and the Expected Notification of Death Form is not filled then you need to call the RCMP as the coroner needs to be notified. The coroner may or may not attend the death dependant on the circumstances. If the coroners deem the death a coroners call, then the coroner will contact their contracted removal service to come and transfer the deceased. Often this is a funeral home who is contracted to do the removal for the Coroner’s Service. It is important to know that the funeral home is there as a contracted employee of the Coroners Service as opposed to to being there as a representative of their funeral home. If the coroner deems the death a non-coroner’s case, then they will inform the family to contact the funeral home of their choice to come to the home and transfer the deceased. Whether it is a coroners or non-coroners call, it is always up to the family to contact the funeral home that they would like to use.
“What kind of things do funeral homes help with after the service is all done?” – Heather
I can only speak to this question from my experience working at the different funeral homes in my career as well as from discussions with various colleagues. One of the most valuable things that funeral homes help with is applying for the various government benefits that are available to families, as well as cancelling CPP/OAS payments for the person who has passed away. The two main forms that we assist with are making application for the Canada Pension Death Benefit as well as making application for the Canada Pension Survivors Benefit. The Survivors Benefit applies to surviving spouses as well as to children under the age of 18, as well as children from the age of 18 to 24 attending post secondary education. There is also another benefit that we can help with which is the Allowance for the Survivor Benefit which is for those between the age of 60 to 64 who have low income and whose spouse has passed away. Another service that we offer is the option to have the funeral home take care of returning any government issued identification, Drivers Licenses, Care Cards, Social Insurance Cards, BC ID, and passports. I will be honest, I have spoke to many families who have shared over the years how they were so happy that we take care of all these items for them as they had dealt with other larger funeral homes in larger centres where these services were not offered, or if it was offered, there was an additional charge. These are all items which I believe are important for the funeral home to take care of, as we all know how complicated these government forms can be. I have on numerous occasions helped families who have had loved ones pass away elsewhere come into the office, and I am always more that happy to help with all these forms at no charge to to them. We are all a part of our local community and in this together!
Funerals can be as unique as the life you are celebrating, and I encourage this! In 2003 there was a funeral in Rockland, Mass. for a Mr. Harry Ewell, a man who had been an ice cream vendor. Mr. Ewell’s ice cream truck led the funeral procession and at the end popsicles were handed out to everyone. Every life is special and unique, and, in the end, there is nothing wrong with celebrating that persons life, that might even mean with an ice cream truck and a popsicle.
Keep the questions coming! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.