Tasks when death occurs

Tasks Checklist:

  1. Family Meeting for Planning
  2. Completion of forms needed immediately, see below
  3. Book burial or cremation
  4. Order coffin
  5. Assess transportation requirements
  6. Plan laying out of body
  7. Arrange viewing of body
  8. Make service arrangements
  9. If cremation is chosen, arrange disposition of ashes
  10. Send obituary to newspaper.

                            DETAILS OF TASKS AT THE TIME OF DEATH

Depending on the circumstances of death, each set of activities will be slightly different.

This is to bring family and friends together to review the wishes and/or preplanning of the deceased, and to plan for implementation of those wishes. If it would be helpful, a Last Wishes Society volunteer could be included.  If the death is expected, this meeting could take place before the death occurs, and may include the person who is dying.

For details, see Required Forms page

Three BC Government official forms are time related and must be obtained, filled out and faxed as soon as possible after the death has occurred.
A. Registration of Death
Have a local fax number ready for the form to be sent to you.
B. Medical Certificate of Death
The completed form is obtained from the attending physician.
A and B must be faxed together to 250-712-7562. A Burial Permit will be faxed back in a few hours; until this is received, the body may not be moved.
C. Private Transfer Permit Application
This form is required as well as the Burial Permit, because a commercial funeral provider is not involved.

The body of the deceased may be kept in the home until burial or cremation.
If the death occurs in the New Denver Health Center or other facility, the staff need to know as soon as possible what the funeral arrangements will be.
In case of an unexpected death, the Coroner will be responsible for assessing the cause of death, and also must be informed of funeral plans. An autopsy (medical examination of the body to determine the cause of death) may be required.
Burials are legally required to take place in a designated cemetery. The New Denver Cemetery is run by the Village of New Denver. Burials need to be booked through the village office at 250 358 2316. Two village employees are required to do the ‘opening and closing’ of the grave (digging and filling in). Burial usually takes place within 72 hours of death. If the time is longer sanitation issues may require embalming, which is only carried out by a commercial funeral provider.
Cremation cannot take place prior to 48 hours after death. It must be done in a designated crematorium, arranged through a commercial funeral provider.
Prior to cremation, pacemakers have to be removed; this is usually done by the attending physician. Replaced joints do not need to be removed.

A ‘rigid, combustible, leak-proof closed container’ (coffin or casket) is required for either burial or cremation. This can be made locally from any kind of wood, including particle board or plywood. Last Wishes keeps several in store; to see them, phone Gloria at 358 2253.
The Society can also provide names of local woodworkers who keep materials at hand. Alternatively, a coffin can be obtained from a commercial provider.
A sheet may be used to lift the body into the container.
If the body is to be cremated, the head end of the coffin must be marked.
If people wish to decorate the coffin, any paint applied should be water based.

Transportation must be arranged, from the site of death to wherever the body needs to go. Make sure the coffin will fit in the vehicle prior to placing the body inside.   Three or more adults will be required to lift a coffin containing an adult body. A car will accommodate a child’s coffin, a truck or van an adult’s. The coffin should not be visible during transportation; if the vehicle is short, a tarp is adequate to conceal the exposed end.

This process is optional, and may include washing and dressing the body for viewing and burial, or for cremation. Laying Out may take place at home, or in a community building with many people participating. It helps if the people gather beforehand to discuss with an experienced person what to expect and what they will do. Items need to be assembled such as water, disposable gloves, towels and clothes.

Viewing is also optional, and can occur at home or in a community building. If the viewing period is to be greater than 72 hours, embalming may be necessary to preserve body tissues.
In situations of sudden death, or when family or friends have not seen the deceased person for some time, the opportunity to see the body can be a crucial component in coming to terms with the reality that death has occurred.

Ceremonies serve various purposes including community acknowledgement of the death, providing support, sharing the grief with bereaved family and friends, and celebrating the life of the person who has died. The body or cremated remains may be present at the service but do not need to be. Arrangements can be made entirely by the family and friends, or may include a religious leader. An ‘order of service’ may be prepared that includes biographic or other information, and whatever rituals, readings, music etc are chosen.

Arrangements will be needed to pick up the cremains (commonly known as ashes). Cremains weigh 4-8 pounds, and are returned from the crematorium in a plastic bag or cardboard box. They may be transferred to an urn, kept, buried, or scattered as desired. Urns may be made of various materials, eg pottery, brass, wood. It is possible that if cremains are scattered on water they may not sink and the water will move them to the shore.

If desired, write and place a funeral notice or obituary in a newspaper. In New Denver, it is traditional to post a notice in the window of the Post Office.