When Death Occurs | Hartsell Funeral Home | Albemarle NC funeral home and crematory
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What do I do next?


The overwhelming feelings of despair, disbelief, shock, and numbness caused by the passing of a loved one cannot be conveyed by mere words. Even when the death is expected, the pain that loss brings can still be devastating.  In truth, no one is completely prepared for the death of someone close to their heart.

During this difficult time, there are decisions to be made immediately, arrangements to be coordinated, and a lot of things to be considered for your loved one’s final farewell. We understand how this may feel overwhelming, especially with the grief you’re feeling over the loss. Please know that we are here to help and support you. 

On this page, we’ve put together helpful information to guide you through this process.

Notify Proper Authorities


If your loved one passes away while under the care of a facility — such as a nursing home or a hospital — staff from the facility will contact you and notify the funeral home.

If the death occurred at home under hospice care, call hospice.  A hospice nurse will come out to the home to pronounce the death.

If the death did not occur in a facility and your loved one was not under hospice care, call 911.  Emergency medical personnel will pronounce the death and contact your loved one's physician before he or she can be transferred into our care at the funeral home.

In the event that no one was present at the time of death, call 911.  

If your loved one was transferred into the care of the medical examiner, their office will need to be contacted and given permission to release to the funeral home.

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First Call to/from the funeral home


Our caring funeral director will contact you after your loved one is in our care. We check to see if he or she has any notes about their final wished on file with us. The funeral director will set an appointment to meet at one of our facilities to discuss funeral arrangements. You may be asked if we have permission to embalm. Embalming is not required by law. However, embalming may be necessary if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with an open casket/public viewing. Please ask any questions you may have.

During this call, you’ll also be informed about the things that you need to bring with you like a photo for the obituary, clothing including undergarments (long-sleeves and a higher neckline are preferred; shoes are not necessary), Social Security card, his or her father's full name and mother's full maiden name, military discharge document for veteran's benefits (DD214), and/or life insurance information (if you prefer to use this as payment for our services).

Feel free to call us whenever you feel the need to. Remember that we are here to listen to you, help you, and guide you during this difficult and trying time.



All of these tasks may feel overwhelming if undertaken alone.  It is important to enlist a trusted friend or a family member to help you cope with the responsibility and emotional pain of this process.  Remember that we are here to guide you through this difficult time and to ensure that your loved one receives the honor and tribute he or she deserves.


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