What to do when an expected death occurs
Before we proceed, it is important to understand that even if a death is expected, it will still be necessary to call 911 if the person died at home and was:
1) Not currently under hospice care
2) Has not been seen by their attending physician in the past twenty days or physicians assistant (usually within the last 72 hours)
This is important to keep in mind because if either of those two circumstances coincide with the death then there is a chance that it will be a coroner's case. Please be sure to have open and candid talks with your doctor or hospice worker for more information regarding the law, and how death will be declared.
A Step by Step Guide
- Call Undertaking LA at 323-446-2233 and notify us that a death has occurred.
- We will ask you if you have a nurse, signing doctor, or hospice representative information. This is imperative in order for us to legally pick up the body.
- We will then ask if you are ready for us to come to your home. We encourage you to take your time to be with your loved one, and assure you that except in rare circumstances, you will be perfectly fine to sit with the body. You can call us back whenever you are ready for us to come out. Please be aware our average pick-up time is between 90 minutes and two hours.
- A Director will follow-up with you about setting up time for an arrangement. We usually suggest doing them the next day so that you have some time to process everything.
- We do all our arrangements by phone and they take about 20-30 minutes. It will consist of collecting all necessary information to complete a Death Certificate. This is necessary in order to have permission from the State to cremate or bury a body. This will also be the time that you and your Director can discuss what kind of service you would like. Burials take longer to plan as it will require you visiting Joshua Tree to pick out your plot and at least 3-5 days advance notice to dig the grave. Things to have on hand at the time of the arrangement that you may not know easily will be Social Security number, Date of Birth, Name of Decedent's Father and Mother including the State they were born in.
- After the arrangement concludes, the Director will email all necessary forms to you. We use an electronic signature program that allows you to easily sign and send them back within minutes.
- After the arrangement we will begin the filing of the Death Certificate and Disposition Permit. Both of these must be secured and approved by the state before any form of disposition can take place. We will contact you when it has been approved by the State. This process usually takes 3 business days after a death has occurred, however, it can take longer if we are having trouble getting a hold of the signing doctor. If this happens we will inform you of the delay.
- After the Death Certificate has been approved and the Disposition Permit has been obtained we will schedule the Cremation date and follow-up with you.
The entire process from the time of death to the time the remains are ready to be picked up is about 7-10 business days.
Keeping the Body at Home
Extra Information for the DIY Inclined
If your loved one has died at home under hospice care, which is becoming more and more common today, they will often help give you support during the initial death process. It is always important to talk to your hospice representatives ahead of time so that you know what to expect once the death has occurred and to help make it easier for them as well. Also, please be aware that the immediate removal of the body is not an emergency.
We highly encourage you to take your time with the body and assure you that you are in no immediate danger from it. Unless it is an exceedingly hot summer day (which, let's be honest, does happen) simply keeping the air conditioner on for the first 24 hours should suffice.
If you feel like it's necessary (or it makes you feel more comfortable), dry ice in VENTILATED bags/pillowcase placed near the head and torso will help slow down decomposition. Change the dry ice as needed. However, keep in mind that the easiest way to facilitate this is to know where you can pick this up ahead of time. Ice packs can always be substituted while obtaining the dry ice and usually work perfectly if you are keeping the body at home for less than 24 hours.
If you are up for it and want to do a light bathing, we have found that in our experience this can be as simple as using a medium size bowl with some warm water and a wash cloth. Then just gently bath the body, changing the water as often as desired. If you like you can add some essential oils like Rosemary, or Lavender that not only smell great, they have natural antibacterial/antiseptic properties too!
We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have on washing and dressing a body and suggest signing up for our Home Funeral Workshops here where you can learn in a hands on environment at our Crematory where we do all of our dressings for services.