What Happens First Tips

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An autopsy is done after death to determine the cause of death when it is in question. If a doctor is not sure what caused the death, or the death was unattended, the body will be turned over to the medical examiner who holds jurisdiction over the area.

This is a medical procedure where the body is examined. Both the outside and inside of the body will be explored. Samples will be taken for testing and microscopic examination.

There are laws governing autopsies and when they are done. The family will often have no control over whether the procedure is carried out. In most cases, the families wishes will be considered but if the law requires that it be done it will be.

If an autopsy is called for, this needs to be taken into considersation when planning the funeral. This may delay the funeral for a day to several days. The medical examiner's office should be able to tell you when the body will be released.

In some cases, families wish to have autopsies performed by an independent professional. There are places that provide these services.

A competent funeral home can prepare the body for viewing after an autopsy. This should be discussed with the funeral home before making a final choice of a funeral provider.

How do I tell my children?

Telling Children About a Death

Children need to be told of a death in the family. State it in simple terms. Give brief explanations and honest answers to your child's questions. Don't shield your children from death by telling them lies to make the subject easier. However, a child doesn't need to know every detail. The important thing is to honestly answer the questions they ask.

Children tend to have short attention spans. Along with this, there is also a limit to what information they will retain. Use simple language that the child can easily understand when explaining death to them. Don't be afraid to use words like dead or death.

How do you start planning for a funeral?

How to start planning for a funeral

Before you can even begin planning a funeral, you must first decide on the disposition of the body. If it is to be a cremation, what will be done with the cremains? Will they be buried or retained? If they are to be scattered, you may need to check into local laws governing such things and may need a permit. If, on the other hand, ground burial or a mausoleum crypt is to be the final resting place, then that´s where you´ll want to start your research and your planning.

Who makes the funeral arrangements?

Who Has the Right to Decide

Laws governing how a body will be buried exist in every state. In many states you have the right to leave written instructions as to how you want your body handled. Perhaps you have strong feelings about whether you will be buried or cremated or the type of funeral service to be held. This will help insure your wishes are met. While some states do not have this law, it is best to have your wishes outlined in writing. If your case goes to court many judges will consider your written instructions.

Some states have laws that allow you to designate a person to represent you in your body's disposition. This designated agent should be someone that you know will follow your wishes.

The laws are different in every state and cannot be covered here. Check with your state for specifics in your area.

How do I tell my family?

Notifying Family and Friends

Notifiying everyone of a loved one's death can be a daunting task. Close family members and friends will need to be notified in a personal manner such as a telephone call. Don't be afraid to reach out to the first few people that you notify and ask them to help you inform other members of the family.

Once your family and close friends have been notified, you can notify other friends and acquaintances through e-mail. This method may be easier than trying to get in touch with everyone by phone. It also will save you from the task of re-telling the story over and over. If you are the closest relative to the deceased, it is appropriate to delegate this task to another family member or friend.

How can I help my child remember his/her sibling?

Inexpensive Funeral Options

When the economy is in a down turn it can be difficult to find the money to cover funeral expenses. The cost of an average funeral including burial is close to $10,000. If covering an expense like that is not possible, there are some less expensive options.

  • Consider donating the body to science. If a medical school or scientific institution accepts the donation they will usually pay to have it cremated and returned to the family after the body has been studied.

  • Look into direct cremation. This type of cremation is offered by some funeral homes as well as organizations like the Neptune Society. In a direct cremation, the body is picked up and taken directly to the crematorium. There is no funeral or visitation. The cost for one of these cremations usually starts around $700 depending where you are.

  • If you opt for a traditional funeral and burial there are ways to save there as well. Caskets are a major expense. You can make your own for much less than purchasing one and it is allowed. Look for a burial plot in a public cemetery run by the city or county, the fees are usually much less than private cemeteries.

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