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What To Do When Someone Dies


When a death occurs in your family, sometimes logical thinking goes out the window.  Most often, this may be the first death experience in a family.  What should you do and when should you do it?  What do you do next?  These are all questions that you want and need answered as you experience the death of someone you loved.  Making funeral arrangements will be a time of important and perhaps difficult decision making, which may seem even overwhelming – but that is what I am here for – to assist you with everything and to try to make the death as bearable as possible for you and your family.  Kowalski Funeral Home is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

When a death occurs, please call the Kowalski Funeral Home at 908-486-7111.  Initially, you may be asked the following questions;


** What is the name of the deceased?


** Where did the deceased pass away, in a hospital, nursing home, private residence or other location?


** What is the name and phone number of the caller?


** How is the caller related to the deceased?


** What is the name and phone number of the next of kin?


I will set up an appointment time for you and your family to come to the funeral home to establish the type of funeral that you would like to have.  My funeral conferences are very comprehensive in that I want to make sure that I can assist you in any way possible and that the funeral will be as personalized as you want.  All of this takes time and effort – but I am here for the families I serve.  The following is a list of some information about the deceased that I would ask you to bring to the arrangement conference:

  1. Full name including middle initial, if any:  
  2. Full legal address, including street address, apartment number, city, state, zip code & county
  3. Marital status:   single, married, divorced, widowed, domestic partnership, civil union, etc. (If widowed, please provide the full name of deceased spouse and date of death)
  4. Full name of surviving spouse, including maiden name for wife.
  5. Date of Birth:
  6. Place of birth:   city, state and country
  7. How long did the deceased reside at the address listed above?
  8. What other towns did the deceased live in prior to that and for how many years (approximately)?
  9. Year of schooling completed.
  10. Race
  11. Is decedent of Hispanic or Latino Heritage?  If yes, please describe
  12. Last type of work done (even if retired).
  13. Last name & address of employer (city & state is fine for address)
  14. Type of business:
  15. How long was the deceased employed at the last job.
  16. Approximately when did the deceased retired?
  17. Social security number
  18. Father’s name
  19. Mother’s  maiden name (if known)
  20. Name of person in charge of the funeral:
  21. Address of the person in charge of the funeral:
  22. Phone number of the person in charge of the funeral and what is their relationship to the deceased?
  23. Any other family member’s name and phone number, as a secondary contact?
  24. Name of Cemetery:             Grave, Crypt or Niche Location:          (I might also need the original deed depending on the cemetery)
  25. Burial, entombment or cremation:
  26. Any religious affiliation?     If so, what church or minister?     Or perhaps the funeral director might be performing the prayers both in  the funeral home and/or  at the Cemetery?
  27. Veteran?  If so, what War and what branch of the service?  Also, the dates of induction and separation and the service serial number.  I would need a copy of the discharge papers.
  28. Service Man/Woman (in the Armed Forces, during peace time).      Again, I would need a copy of the discharge.
  29. A listing of all of the survivors and their city and state of residence.   Immediate survivors include, spouse, children, brothers, sisters, living parents, and the number of grandchildren and great grandchildren, etc..  In a newspaper a family may want all the grandchildren listed individually by name or just the number of them.
  30. A list of any groups or organizations, the deceased may have belonged to.  Also, I would like to know is the deceased had any special hobbies or interests or may have received some awards in the past.
  31. If there is to be a request for “In lieu of flowers “, where will the donations be sent to?
  32. Is there a headstone on the gravesite?  If not, we can discuss designing and manufacturing one, as I do that work also through my monument division, Cherished Memories.  If there is a headstone in place, we can discuss if it needs to be updated.  All of this can be done at a later date.  
  33. Will there be a repast or coffee and cake after the funeral?

On a more personal nature, I would also need the following:

  1. A picture of the deceased
  2. A full set of clothing (which includes undergarments) that you would like to have your loved one wearing.  Please understand that this does not necessarily mean a formal suit and tie or a fancy dress.  The clothing should always be reflective of what the deceased would have wanted. (Also, shoes are optional)
  3. Jewelry, glasses, rosary beads, prayer book, medallion, etc.
  4. A photo collage of the deceased, showing pictures of the family and friends that shared and enriched the deceased's life.
  5. Momento's that the deceased may have collected or surrounded his or her life with. Some examples would be music boxes, dolls, statues, baseball cards, trains, old time records.  Any of these things can be lovingly displayed.

Things to do Before, During, or After the Funeral

After you have the funeral conference with Teresa V. Kowalski of the Kowalski Funeral Home, and all of the funeral arrangements are complete, the following are some helpful suggestions to assist the family in their preparations for the following days.


**  Make a list of all of the family, friends and business associates that you want to have contacted by phone.  Make some of the initial calls and then use the “Reach Out” method, whereby you ask those relatives or friends to call two or three specific people and so on.


**  Arrange for family members to help in answering the door or phone, so that the burden in not only on one person.


**  If you received deliveries of flowers or fruit baskets, cakes or food, keep a list of the donors, so that a thank you can be sent.


**  If family or friends offer to help – say yes!  Let them assist you, whether it be cleaning or straightening up the house, making coffee or other food preparations between or after viewings or even to watch over the house or your pet when you are at the funeral home


**  Arrange for child care if you feel the children are too young to attend the funeral.  However, please know that children are always welcome in the funeral home and bring a unique aspect to the funeral.


**  Determine who in the family or friends would be pallbearers.


**  Decide if there are any pictures, framed or loose or other special objects that the family would like displayed during the viewing.


**  If we are having a mass in Church, are there any special songs that you would request of the organist?  Would any family members or friends like to do the readings or bring up the gifts?  I always encourage family participation to make a very meaningful funeral and a beautiful lasting memory.


When a Death Occurs Away from Home

Two situations can arise, but the response to both is the same.  First, you and your family might be away from home, perhaps on vacation or visiting friends and a death occurs.  Second, you and/or your family may have moved out of state, but upon death, the family wants the deceased brought back to Linden for the entire funeral service.  Many people ask – What do we do now?  Who do we call and when?  The answer is very simple.  The best and most cost effective practice is to contact the funeral home where the funeral service and burial will take place - namely the Kowalski Funeral Home (908-486-7111)

From that point on, I will make all the arrangements to have the deceased cared for by a local funeral home, who will do the embalming and the preparation necessary for the return back to Linden. (It is vitally important that you DO NOT contact a funeral firm where the death occurred.  I MUST DO THIS!)  My organizational affiliations enable me to have worldwide contacts available for your needs.  By following this procedure, I will be able to make sure that you are not paying more than you need to, since a duplication of services will not take place.  If a death occurs while traveling outside of the United States, the U.S. Embassy will come to your assistance in conjunction with the assistance from the Kowalski Funeral Home to return you loved one home.   

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