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It’s important to contact your preferred funeral director and Herland Forest in advance when death is pending.

What should you expect when someone dies?

The felt experience of death can be dramatically different depending on whether a death occurs suddenly or gradually. While you’re sorting out the powerful feelings, your local funeral director and the Herland Forest staff can deal with the practical matters involves.   This is a general outline offered to help start you through the process. Please feel free to ask lots of questions.

If death takes place in a hospital, a body may be refrigerated as long as 48 hours. Nursing homes and hospices will want a body transported shortly after death.

If death occurs at home, the family doctor or medical examiner must come to the home to complete a death certificate. If the deceased has been in an in-home hospice program, the hospice nurse will call the doctor in charge of the hospice program, who will usually sign the death certificate.

In some states, funeral directors obtain the death certificate when they receive the body. The physician or medical examiner section should already be completed. The funeral director meets with the family to gather biographical information: birth date, place of residence, occupation, veteran status, etc. This will be included in the death certificate and will be reviewed prior to the disposition of the body: burial, cremation, out-of-state transportation, or medical school donation.

Funeral directors have 72 hours to file the death certificate with the county health department. The county health department then issues a burial transit permit and provides that to the funeral director. This permit and full payment are required for burial.

Once the burial is scheduled, Herland Forest will usually transport the body, along with the burial transit, permit to Herland Forest.

All funeral homes are required to post a general price list that includes:

  • One-time package for direct cremation
  • Direct transportation from place of death to cemetery: no embalming, no obituary, no service, and must include the price of the “minimum receptacle” though you may buy a casket from anyone, or make your own

Once the burial or cremation is complete, Herland’s staff will mail a copy of the burial transit permit to the health department.

What You Should Know about Transport, Embalming, Home Funerals, and More

There is no state that requires embalming. For state-by-state rules, read Caring for Your Own Dead by Lisa Carlson.

We are aware of no state that requires vaults, and vaults are not used in Herland Forest. KS, ID, and MN require embalming when a body is transported by common carrier (by plane for example). NJ and AK require embalming for transporting out of state by any means if the body won’t arrive at its final destination within 24 hours of death. AL requires embalming for any out-of-state transport by any means. We accept embalmed bodies for burial where required by such laws, so long as the embalming is done with Green Burial Council approved, nontoxic chemicals.

Generally, to bring a body from the hospital or hospice, you’ll need a funeral director to transport it to your home. We will then arrange with you to transport the body to Herland Forest.

When death occurs at home, you have one less step to take. Once the proper party has completed the death certificate, you may wash and otherwise prepare the body, placing it in a casket or shroud for loved ones to visit and pay their respects. We will arrange with you to transport the remains to the Herland Forest. If using a shroud, place the body on a wide, sturdy trundle (plank) for transportation.

Place ice packs or dry ice around the body to keep it cold if you’ll be waiting a day or two before burial. Wear gloves when handling dry ice, and don’t place it in an airtight container.

Be prepared for the things that may happen to a body after death. The book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach will give you some ideas of what to expect.