Day 1 - Loss of a Loved One

Losing a family member or friend can be one of the toughest events to go through in life. There are countless things that have to be done in the following days. Carson’s Village is here to help families get organized and get through those days as best as they can. Please take the time to look over our timeline so that we might help you understand what to expect. Also, there are many little things that need to be considered. We have put together a list of them. Please take a few minutes to review the list.

Action Items:
Review the Things to Consider document

Day 1 - Determine How Carson's Village Can Help

There are countless things that have to be accomplished in such a short time. Let Carson’s Village help you to organize your village. The service is completely free. Below is a link to a page that will walk you through the different ways that Carson’s Village can offer support. Families are free to utilize our online resources at their leisure or we can have a volunteer advocate assist the family over the phone or in person if one is available locally. Each situation and family is different and we are here to support the family as their needs dictate.

Action Items:

Review the levels of support to determine the best for your situation:
How Carson’s Village can Help

Day 1 - Alert Family, Friends, & Religious Affiliations

Communications should start with immediate family members and close friends. The family can determine how they need to facilitate this communication. Once immediate family, friends and clergy have been notified then extended friends and family should be notified. Once the word gets out people may start coming by the house to offer support. To help organize the village, one person should be appointed as the single point of contact. This will ensure that the same message is communicated out from the family.

Action Items:

Pick a single point of contact for the family and have them determine a lead for each social circle and get their contact information: Social Circle Organization

Day 2 - Organ Donation

Depending on how the person passed will determine which organs can be donated. For minors, the guardians will make the decision. For adults, the authorities will look to see if the person indicated organ donation with the DMV. The timeline for donations may vary based on the circumstances, but viable organs will be harvested immediately after death and within 24 hours they will request to harvest the heart valves, the cornea and whites of the eyes.  Families do not have to donate.  That is a personal decision, but we want to make sure that you are prepared for that call.

If you agree to donate, then the call will take about 20 minutes to answer all of the medical history questions.  They can be very invasive questions, to include sexual history and medical history, so you will need to be mentally prepared.

Action Items:
1) Determine donation status
2) Give approval/denial if a minor
3) Anticipate a lengthy phone call if organ donation is granted

Organ and Tissue Donation

Day 2 - Notification and Document Location

Hopefully the person that passed was organized and kept their records in proper order, but if not, the resource below can help walk you through the items that need to be located and who needs to be notified.

Action Item:

Review the Notification and Document Location resource guide.
Notification and Document Location

Day 2 - Alert Workspace or School

If any school children were involved (either deceased or a child of the deceased) then the school will need to be notified. They may need to have crisis counselors available for when the children return to school. The same will hold true if the deceased held a job. The workplace will need to be notified of the event.

Action Items:
Contact the appropriate school(s) or workplace

Sample Emails to Social Circles

Day 2 - Identify Common Triggers

Everyone responds to situations differently. Some people would like all the pictures taken down and others want to leave everything as is. Is there any of the deceased’s laundry that needs to be removed from the washer? How would your family like to handle this situation? We have a list of common triggers that might need attention.

Action Item:
Review the document to identify any potential triggers: Common Triggers

Day 2 - Organize the Village

Many people will want to be helpful and to do something tangible. This is where things can get a bit disorganized. It is important to get all of the villagers moving in the same direction. Every family will have different needs and it is critical that those need are clearly communicated to family, friends and the community. You don’t want someone bringing in something with nuts when a family member may have an allergy, for example.

Action Items:
1) Determine Family Needs
2) Determine donation focus and amount
3) Set up Family Webpage

Day 2 - Other Service Contacts

Description: Other helpful contacts are listed such as crime scene cleaners, military contacts, and credit agencies. Some of these agencies may need to be contacted and notified of the passing.

Action Items:

Determine if any of the additional contacts are needed
Helpful Contact Information for Services

Day 2 - Social Media Plan

Social Media is something that needs to be addressed from two perspectives. First, how should the news of the passing be shared on Social media and who will do it? Next, how should any social media accounts be handled/closed out? It may be important to the family to try and control the social media.  It should be made very clear with the Social Circle Leads that nothing should be put in social media without the express permission from the family.  Social Circle Leads may choose to monitor social media the first few days after the incident.  Discuss with the family how they want the news to break.  Eventually it will happen and the family needs to control how that happens as best they can.

Action Items:

Determine how and when the news should be broken socially.

Social Media Tips

Day 3 - Medical Examiner / Coroner

Depending on the day of the week, a conversation will need to happen with the Medical Examiner/Coroner to discuss the release of the body. They will need the family to identify the funeral home to which the body should be released to. Also, a determination needs to be made about the clothes the person was wearing at the time of the incident. They can either be sent to the funeral home with the deceased or destroyed.

Action Items:

1) Inform the officials of the funeral home
2) Determine to keep the clothes or destroy them

Day 3 - Alert Social Circles

Once all of the Social Circle Leads have been identified, then the sample emails can be used to send out notification to them. This should let them know about how things such as social media notification should be handled.

Action Item: Identify and notify all of the members of the social circles

Sample Emails to Social Circles

Day 3 - Contact Funeral Home for Appointment

Planning for the funeral should begin with the family first identifying the funeral home and cemetery. Prior to the family meeting with the funeral home, the family should review the funeral home preparation guide. Many personal decisions will need to be made and it will help to have those discussions in private with plenty of time for discussion and not unexpectedly in front of a funeral home director. The Vital Statistics form should be reviewed to make sure that the family is prepared for the meeting.

Action Items:

Review the three documents listed below:

Funeral Meeting Preparation

Vital Information for Death Certificate

Funeral Cost vs. Cremation

Day 3 - Military Options

If the deceased was active military or a veteran, then there are special services that are available to them including military cemeteries and honor guards.

Action Item:
Review the military contact information

Helpful Contact Information for Services

Day 3 - Insurance / Budget for the Funeral

The family will need to take stock of their financial options. Funeral homes will require advance payment and the family should be prepared. They will also need to understand how much money they have available to spend. There are also resources that can help families pay for the funeral.

Action Items:
1) Get an understanding of the family’s financial position
2) Research financial options if necessary

Funeral Cost Resource

Day 4 - Meet with Funeral Home

This meeting to plan for the funeral will be difficult and can take up to 3 hours if you are meeting with the cemetery director as well. The family needs to eat ahead of time and be prepared to spend a long period of time for this task, though hopefully, it will go quicker.

Action Items: 1) Review the funeral meeting preparation

2) Bring the Vital Statistics to the Funeral Home meeting.

Day 4 - Begin Working on Obituary

An obituary will be needed for the funeral home and may be needed for the local paper should you choose to post there. There is standard information that will need to be reflected and any personal information can also be added. Use this link for ideas and further information.

Action Items:
1) Include standard information in obituary
2) Add personal details in obituary (optional)

Internal Links:

Sample Obituaries

List of suggested points for an obituary

External Links:
Guide to writing an Obituary

Day 4 - Begin Gathering Pictures for Visitation

Action Items:
1) Collect digital pictures
2) Collect framed pictures
3) Set up online account with Carson’s Village or other vendor

External Links:

The funeral home will request that you provide them with a flash drive of pictures of the deceased for a slide show. You may also choose to bring framed pictures for the visitation and service. You may choose to set up a web-based photo account for your family and friends to be able to share pictures with you to choose from for the visitation and service. Or you can use Carson’s Village help you manage the pictures.


Day 4 - Plan Service

Funeral services can vary. Some may use religious songs or songs that were meaningful to the deceased. Poems may be printed in the program or read aloud by guests. Guests may also choose to share personal stories about the deceased. Use these links for ideas on how you would like your loved one’s services to flow.

Action Items:

1) Determine style of service

2) Determine who will play a role in the service

Internal Links:

Poem Samples

Program Samples

External Link: Planning support – How to Plan a Funeral or Memorial Service

Day 4 - Clothes for the Funeral

Clothes can be a last minute scramble especially for children that might not have dress clothes. Some thought should go into this ahead of time to ensure that everyone is dressed to match the family’s expectations.

Action Item:
Inventory clothes for those attending the funeral, especially the children

Day 5 - Submitting an Obituary

The funeral home will provide you with the exact day and time they will need your finalized obituary. You may also consider providing a copy of the obituary to the local newspaper and your Social Circle Leads for them to distribute to your social circles

Action Items:
1) Provide copy of obituary to funeral home
2) Provide copy of obituary to local newspaper (optional)
3) Provide copy of obituary to Social Circle Leads (optional)

External Links: Submitting an Obituary

Day 5 - Deliver Items to Funeral Home

The funeral home will request that you provide them with a flash drive of pictures* of the deceased for a slide show. You may also choose to bring framed pictures for the night of the visitation. The funeral home will also request that you bring the clothes you would like the deceased to be buried in as well as any mementos you would like to be placed in the casket with your loved one.

Action Items:

1) Provide pictures

2) Provide clothes for deceased 3) Provide mementos (optional)

External Link: Items to place in a casket

Day 6 - Visitation

The visitation is typically held at the funeral home and is a time when friends and family members gather together. To remember the deceased and offer condolences to the family. It is common practice to have the body present; the casket may be open or closed according to the family’s wishes. The funeral or memorial service is normally the next day followed by burial or cremation of the body.  There is typically a receiving line which can subject the family to long bouts of standing and speaking to guests.  Be sure to have water, snacks, tissues, chapstick and/or breath mints as needed for the family as they can get cornered at times and may need some relief.  There may even need to be a signal to allow the family to break from the situation briefly.  The family may choose not to hold a receiving line.  In this case, the guests will need to know the expectations of them and their interactions with the family.  Immediate family may choose to be in the room with the casket or may prefer to be in a foyer or waiting area.  In some cases, the family may choose to have a closed casket to guests but an open casket for just close family members.  If this is the case, the family will be instructed to arrive thirty minutes or so prior to the Visitation to be able to view the body in private.  Should the family choose the optional open casket, the body will have to be embalmed.  There is an additional charge for this service.  There is typically a sign in book for visitors to indicate their attendance and possibly words of condolence.  Having a table available to collect cards, gifts and a box to allow guests to write notes to the family is also something else the family may want to consider.

Action Items:
1) Determine if the family wants an open or closed casket
2)  Determine if the family wants a receiving line.
3)  Have supplies ready for the family to ensure they are supported
4) Determine where the family will stand to receive visitors

Day 7 - Funeral

The funeral can be a very difficult time for the family as this may be the last time they see their loved one. The family may choose to enter the room prior to the guests or may want to visit with the guests prior to the start of the service.  At the conclusion of the service the family may choose to form a receiving line or may not be up to conversing with guests.  At the end of the funeral, someone will need to provide next steps to the guests as to the burial site and/or the location of the reception.  Often times these locations and directions may also be put within the funeral program.  In addition to programs, there is typically a sign in book for visitors to indicate their attendance and possibly words of condolence.  Having a table available to collect cards, gifts and a box to allow guests to write notes to the family is also something else the family may want to consider.

Action Items:
1) Determine if the family wants to enter the funeral prior to guests
2) Determine next steps after the funeral to share with guests
3) Where will guests sign in or place gifts, cards, etc.

Day 7 - Reception

The reception is a gathering after the funeral and can be a good opportunity for people to spend time together and remember the deceased. Funerals are often an opportunity that brings people together who may not have seen each other in some time and the reception can also provide an opportunity for people to reconnect.  With this in mind, the family may consider having the reception on a venue that allows for guests to visit and relax.  Tall tables, chairs, couches and food can help set the environment for talking and reconnecting.  The family may consider having the event catered or have family and community members bring food and drink items.  The sign in book that was used at the visitation and the funeral may also be set out at the reception to ensure that all guests have had the opportunity to sign.

Action Items:
1) Choose the venue
2) Will the reception be catered or potluck
3) Where will guests sign in or place gifts, cards, etc.