When a loved one passes, it is time to enlist the help of those around you. There will hopefully be family around to support each other in their grief as well as friends that will support you. There are also funeral directors that can manage the majority of the logistics with the next of kin’s input. While the subject might be a morbid one, knowing what happens after a loved one dies before the sad event takes place, can help remove a lot of uncertainty when the day arrives.

Here are the details of what needs to happen after a loved one passes away and how you might need to be involved.

Just after death

The exact series of events depends on where the death took place and what the causes were.

In the case of a natural death in a state hospital, the hospital will usually have a mortuary where the body can be kept until the notification of death is issued. In the case of most private hospitals, a funeral director needs to collect the deceased. If the deceased is to be embalmed for a viewing and/or burial or cremation, the funeral director will ensure that this happens at their own facilities or hired facilities if they do not have their own. Remember that you will need to collect your loved one’s personal possessions from the hospital and you might need to provide the funeral director with the original ID-document or a copy of the deceased identity document if you cannot provide the original.

In the case of a natural death at home, you may contact the EMS who can issue a Declaration of Death after checking the vital signs pertaining to the deceased. If there is any uncertainty, they will usually have the police confirm that no foul play is suspected and then the funeral director can be contacted to collect the deceased. The funeral director will contact the medical practitioner who attended to the deceased prior to his/her death and enquire about the notification of death form and cremation documents, if applicable. The funeral director will notify you of all the documents they will need.

If an individual died of unnatural causes, an inquest will be opened, and an autopsy would need to be performed before a notification of death can be issued by the forensic pathologist. Once all the legal necessities have been performed, a funeral director can be contacted to collect the deceased. In the meantime, you may wish to continue with the funeral arrangements.

In all these cases, the body of the deceased needs to be identified by a relative or friend. A release form must be signed by the latter once this has been done.

Organising the legalities

The funeral director will require several documents to see to some of the legal matters concerning the death. Once they have all the documents needed, he/she will also ensure that the legal formalities are properly completed, like obtaining the notice of death notice from the medical attendants, registering the death at Dept of Home Affairs and collecting the death certificate, organising death notices in newspapers, providing you and/or the executor of the deceased estate with some of the legal documents they require, etc.

The funeral director will ensure that the deceased’s body is prepared in accordance with his/her religious beliefs and/or in the manner requested whether it be for viewing, burial, or cremation. He/she will see to the local transport of the body and if they have passed away in a different country, they will assist with the repatriation of the deceased across borders.

Organising the funeral

Once the legalities have been attended to, the funeral arrangements need to be made. The family members can have as much control over the funeral arrangements as they wish, but the funeral director is there to make the process easier and will be able to see to most of the arrangements in accordance with the deceased and loved ones’ wishes. The funeral director will meet with the next of kin to have a conversation about the type of funeral, memorial service, end of life service, etc they would like.

It is imperative that Covid-19 regulations regarding funerals are taken into account.

This can be an emotional process. As much as the funeral director can take over the actual process of arranging everything, they still need the next of kin’s input on various issues, like the venue, pall bearers, a coffin or a casket, who will do the readings, are there specific flowers to be placed, will there be a viewing, will there be a small ceremony for just the family at the grave, etc. They will need decisions on these matters and more from the next of kin, so that they can go ahead and arrange all matters concerning:

  • The funeral pamphlet
  • Organising the venue
  • Catering
  • Candles and floral arrangements
  • Musicians
  • Multimedia
  • Petals or flowers to sprinkle on the grave or put on the casket
  • Transportation to and from the venue
  • Who will write and read the eulogy, etc
  • Live streaming

Paying for the funeral

Though this is often the last thing on a person’s mind, all these arrangements still need to be paid for and there are a number of ways that this can happen.

If the deceased had a funeral policy, the funeral director could in some instances verify the details and receive payment via that method. The next of kin could also opt to pay for the funeral, especially if they know no other arrangements have been made for it. The estate administrator could also advance the funds from the deceased estate should he/she deem it possible to do so. It is not standard practice to send Invoices pertaining to a funeral to the executor of the estate, since it is a cumbersome and lengthy process and often ends up in an insolvent estate.

It is always advisable to have a funeral policy in place to avoid any problems that could arise after your death regarding payments that need to be made. It saves your loved ones a lot of stress during an already fraught time.

Contact us at 012 035 0599 to enquire about our funeral policies.

We have offices in Benoni, Centurion, Fourways, Mayville, Meyerspark, Midstream, Moot, Montana, Moreletapark and Roodepoort should you need to speak to a funeral planner. For branch locator, click here.