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Canada - Death
When someone dies they must first be declared as deceased by a doctor. Only then can an official death certificate be issued. This means if someone passes away at home then a doctor or ambulance should be called immediately. If the death is expected such as in the case of someone who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness then their personal doctor should be called. If the death is unexpected then the emergency services should be called. However, those that live in very remote areas may find that there are no emergency services available and or the doctor is not available. In this instance the local coroner should be called.
Burial in Canada is the most popular form of funeral. The most traditional form of burial is in the ground. This way, the body is laid to rest in a casket which is then lowered into the ground and covered with earth. There is usually some form of headstone to mark the grave. The other form of burial is when the casket is placed in a mausoleum or tomb. This can be either above or below ground. Burial plots can be very expensive but each cemetery is different. Your funeral director will be able to help you as they will have dealings with many different cemeteries in the area.
Next you must choose your casket. These can be extremely costly and can often account for half of the total cost of the funeral. Often only the more expensive caskets are on display so if you want to see something a little more cost effective you will need to ask.
It is not essential to have the body of your loved one embalmed if this goes against your wishes due to personal or religious reasons. Whatever you decide to do, you must inform the funeral home as soon as you can so that they know whether to begin the process or not. You must bear in mind that if you wish to transport the body of your loved one by air then the embalming process may be a legal requirement.
You may decide to cremate your loved one rather than bury them. This is a personal preference for many people and usually is a much more cost effective process. If you wish to cremate your loved one then you will not need to purchase a casket or pay for a plot in the cemetery. The ashes will be returned to you in a container although you may choose to buy an urn if your plan is to keep the ashes at home for a while. Before a cremation is allowed to take place you must obtain a Medical Certificate of Death which should be signed by the doctor who pronounced death.
The maximum time allowed between the death of your loved one and a funeral taking place varies from province to province. Due to religious reasons some people must be buried within 24 hours such as Jewish Orthodox. Your funeral director can advise you of any such time limits in place in your province or territory.
As the cost of funerals can be so expensive it is possible in Canada to plan ahead. You can prepay for your funeral (and burial plot if you require one) and make your own arrangements for when the time comes. This is becoming more popular as it spreads the cost of the funeral and also means your loved ones who will be left behind do not have to face hefty bills. You can even arrange to donate your organs after your passing simply by writing out your wishes and signing the letter. You must of course make your family aware of your wishes also.
There are other things to take care of once a loved one has passed away, and are perhaps not high on your list of priorities at the time. Cancelling a passport, pension payments and informing banks are just some of the extra concerns you may have to take care of. Enlisting the help of another family member or a trusted friend to take care of some of these for you can sometimes help.
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