Someone Has Died. Now What?

A Step-by-Step Guide

If you have lost a loved one, we offer you our sincere condolences. Unfortunately, at this emotionally exhausting and vulnerable time, you are also faced with making a number of important and time sensitive decisions. We are dedicated to identifying and meeting your needs, not according to perceived obligations or outside pressures, but in keeping with your sincere desires and available resources. With time, we want you to look back on this experience with real peace and satisfaction. To this end, we’ve outlined the following steps for making final arrangements. Our goal is to ease this process by providing exceptional value and by empowering you to make the best decisions according to your wishes and resources, and those of your departed loved one.

1. Next of kin chooses a funeral establishment

Call (218) 491-7011 to enlist Affordable Cremation & Burial. A funeral director is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

2. The person is transported to the mortuary

If the deceased was under medical supervision, the hospital, or hospice will release the body to us when you are ready. We will transport the body to the funeral home. If the death was unexpected, call 911. The Medical Examiner or Coroner will investigate the death, and when the investigation is complete, the body will be released to us.

3. Arrangements are made for final disposition

Affordable Cremation & Burial will contact you to coordinate the final arrangements. Consider the following:

  • Will the body be cremated or buried?
  • What type of ritual will be performed, funeral (body present), memorial service (no body), or private family service?
  • What will the final resting place of the deceased be?

In preparation, gather the following items and information:

  • Death certificate information (Download Printable Form)
  • Discharge papers (DD214) if the deceased was a veteran.
  • A nice photo of the deceased (for the obituary, printed materials, and preparation of the body).
  • A list of family members for the obituary.
  • A preliminary idea of where the service will take place (church, chapel, cemetery, other location).
  • Contact information for clergy or others who will participate in the service.
  • Poems, hymns, bible verses, or other writings with special meaning to you or the deceased.

During the meeting, we will assist you in doing the following:

  • Submitting a Death Certificate to the state (legally report the death).
  • Arranging for the disposition of the body (burial, cremation, or entombment) .
  • Planning and coordinating a funeral or memorial service, if desired.
  • Selecting merchandise to be used for the funeral service.
  • Writing an online obituary that will be hosted on our website.
  • Signing a contract and paying for services.

4. Trust us to arrange the perfect goodbye

Rest secure in the knowledge that your loved one’s final arrangements will be handled expertly, with great dignity, and according to your wishes and budget.


A few notes on obituary writing…

Obituaries for all the people we serve can be emailed to us for submission, text of the obituary and a nice photo of the individual is all that is needed. Placing the obituary online on our website is free (for the people we serve), submitting to newspapers will incur a credit card charge that is paid to the newspaper, fees can vary greatly depending on the publication.

I am not an english major, only a humble mortician so I will not delve into the semantics of form in obituary writing, there is a wealth of information online about what is the proper format. However, I can offer some practical advice on writing it. If you look at obituaries written in the newspaper or other publication, you can get a feel for the paragraph format. Overall it is;

  • Announcement of death (name, circumstance of death, date of death, place of death). There are a million euphemisms for saying a person died, the simplest being ‘died’. ‘Passed away peacefully’, ‘entered into rest’, etc. have a more gentle feel. The general public is the audience for the obituary, so the details can be as specific or as vague as you wish as to the cause of death. I feel that being specific, especially in difficult circumstances, is the best choice, as it can raise awareness in a community to any issues that are to be addressed and satisfy people’s curiosity at the same time.
  • The biography (birth, schooling, military service, college, work, marriage, family, hobbies, special achievements, etc.). When writing an obituary keep in mind the following things; it is an announcement to the general public that the person has died, and what/when/where is the service (or private) being held. That is the function, everything else in the obituary is a public tribute to the individual. Of course, there is a wide range of what is considered necessary to write about in a person’s life, my only advice is to always keep the audience in mind. The obituary is often the starting point of looking at a person’s life in retrospect so prioritize what items you want to give to the general public in the obituary vs. what things you want to share with friends and family at a memorial service.
  • He/She is preceded in death by; (people who have passed away before the individual)
  • He/She is survived by; (people who are still living)
  • Service Information (What/When/Where/Who/How is being done for the service). A few reminders; a ritual with the body present is a Funeral Service, one with an urn/no urn (no physical body) is a Memorial Service, or if you are keeping things private or no service you can say, Private Service. Time, date, and place of service, address, who is conducting the service, or other special instructions for the public (i.e. wear a purple scarf, memorials in lieu of flowers preferred, etc.)