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In Home Hospice Care and Death

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I need to know what happens after the patient dies (in my novel, it's the main character's mother) in their home. The father is present when she dies. Grandma may be also. I could even have a hospice car nurse present. (The death isn't in the book, but the MC heads home as the body is being removed.)

Who is called?
How is death pronounced for legal purposes?
Would last rights be administered at the home or elsewhere if the priest isn't present at the moment of death and has to be called in? This is a religious Catholic family.
How does the body get from the home to the funeral parlor?

I've tried researching online to no avail. Thank you for any help with this very serious topic.
#1 - June 12, 2016, 09:13 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
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Why don't you call a funeral director in your town? They would know the legalities, etc. I know in my area, when a person dies at home and it's not a suspicious death, the funeral director comes to the home and brings the body to the funeral home.
#2 - June 13, 2016, 04:43 AM
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My mom died in our home several years ago (we cared for her in her final months). We called the family doctor to come sign the death certificate, and the funeral guys came from a couple of hours away to take her to the funeral home. All this at 2:00 am.

I'm in Canada, so it could be different elsewhere.
#3 - June 13, 2016, 05:00 AM
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When my father died with in-home hospice, my sister called the hospice service and they sent someone out to pronounce the death. They called the funeral home for us, and the funeral home sent people out to transport the body.
#4 - June 13, 2016, 05:34 AM
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Thank you ladies. That's four folks I know with similar stories, one local to me. I think that saves me a phone call to a local hospice service. LIMAMA, that was on my list if I didn't get an answer here, but those calls can be so awkward. Now I know there's a hearse there when Steven rides up. No questioning what that means.

I'd put a gold star for each of you, but I don't do smilies. I think it's :goldstar
#5 - June 13, 2016, 06:04 AM
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I just realized this isn't clear in a couple of responses: does the funeral home send a hearse or other transport vehicle? I'm assuming it's a hearse. Thanks, again.
#6 - June 13, 2016, 06:10 AM
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My mother in law just died in a hospice residence a few months ago, and it's exactly as they described, even there. The doctor signs the death certificate, and then the funeral home comes. For my mil it was a long dark van, not a hearse.
#7 - June 13, 2016, 06:28 AM
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Thank you, Mrs. Jones. I'll have to see if that's consistent.
#8 - June 13, 2016, 07:09 AM
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The priest would try to come to the home if possible.  Last rites can be administered for a couple of hours after death. 
#9 - June 13, 2016, 07:26 AM
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Also, it's called Sacrament of the Sick now, not "last rites" or "Extreme Unction," and it can be administered at any time during an illness, whether terminal or not. Some people arrange for the Sacrament of the Sick before surgery, for example.

There might still be a special iteration of the Sacrament of the Sick after death, but how that happens depends on the availability of priests (do NOT die on a Sunday morning, folks...) and local practice.
#10 - June 13, 2016, 07:41 AM

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Thanks, Anne Marie. I've learned that they've changed it so it's done earlier and called Anointing of the Sick when a terminal case is involved.

Looks like I cross posted with AnneB.
#11 - June 13, 2016, 07:43 AM
« Last Edit: June 13, 2016, 07:52 AM by Debbie Vilardi »
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Ours was a van as well.
#12 - June 13, 2016, 07:53 AM
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I cared for my father at his home with hospice help several years ago.  I had been told to call them when he passed and they would take care of everything, which they did.  Hospice nurses and a doctor arrived.  They called the funeral home people who came as well.  I do not remember what they drove.  I probably didn't even look outside to notice.  The hospice nurses took care of many details such as stripping the sheets and putting them in the washing machine, gathering all of Dad's meds and taking them away with my signed consent, arranging for rented medical equipment to be picked up, etc.  They also stayed in touch for a couple of weeks afterward, sending cards and calling to see if we needed anything.  I still hear from them once a year.     
#13 - June 13, 2016, 08:14 AM
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I worked in a hospital, so it's a bit different than a home setting, but the funeral home people would not use a hearse to pick up a newly dead person. Hearses are designed to display coffins. The funeral home people allow family to say their last goodbyes, if they want, and then put the body in a body bag and transport it on a gurney to a van--sometimes marked with the funeral home's name, sometimes not.
#14 - June 13, 2016, 08:17 AM

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Thanks Holly, Vonna, and Rebecca. A marked van would be perfect. I bit the bullet and e-mailed a local funeral home (contact form on their website) to see if they use a marked van. I may have to drive by some local ones and look for marked vans, but I do think I've seen them.
#15 - June 13, 2016, 08:24 AM
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My mom didn't die at home but we had a hospice nurse come every day to check on us for four months and one nurse came every Sunday to give my sister and me a break. They are very caring, not just helping to take care of the one who is terminally ill but also the family. I really appreciated that she kept in touch with me for several years. I learned from her what an incredible privilege it is to care for the sick and dying.

The priest came several times to visit and also to give last rites. We had to move her to the hospital the last week because we were unable to manage her pain and the priest also came to visit her in the hospital. I took care of my mom's funeral arrangements and the funeral parlor transports the body. There was a wake at the funeral parlor. They put make-up on my mom's face and it was very strange because my mom never wore makeup. After that, cremation. Then a funeral service at church (this was an Anglican church because we were not Catholic at the time).

I sing at traditional Latin Mass and the coffin is covered in a rich black cloth and the priest wears black vestments. This is for when the person asks for a traditional Requiem Mass (either low or high Mass). I've also been to Novus Ordo funeral Mass where the priest wears purple vestments. Note that the prayers are not the same, so if you include a scene you want to be consistent with the type of Mass offered.

Afterwards, one goes to a Catholic cemetery and the body is buried in consecrated ground. Nowadays there are columbaria made for people who have been cremated, but these are also consecrated.

Here's a general article on Catholic funerals: https://www.funeralwise.com/customs/catholic/
and one with a personal story and pictures from a traditional Latin one: http://www.traditionalcatholicpriest.com/2014/08/22/traditional-catholic-requiem-latin-masses-and-respect-given-to-only-a-symbol-after/

Vijaya
#16 - June 13, 2016, 08:47 AM
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Hi V,

Thank for all of the info. my husband is Catholic, so I have the service info. I think the pall (the draped cloth) can vary in color. My understanding is it represents baptismal vestments, so I've used white.

I really just need to know about the vehicle that transports the body from the home to the funeral home.

I got a non-response from the funeral home. "Thank you for your submission!" Oh well. At least I now know they are called funeral removal vehicles. I'll get back to the research and revise the draft after lunch, but any info on those vehicles is still welcome. Some of the ones online say Private Ambulance on the side.

#17 - June 13, 2016, 09:05 AM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
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Is the scene in a rural area, city, suburb, country-suburb (not really rural, not really suburb)??? How things are handled can be determined by location, or may not follow "normal" routine.
#18 - June 13, 2016, 11:40 AM
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Thanks for everyone's help. I got up the courage to call a funeral home locally (the story is set in a non specific suburb of NYC) and go info on how it's handled locally. I hate making those phone calls, but Doug was very nice. He told me that I'll have to name the driver Doug if I mention him. If the funeral director were named in the book, I'd do it.
#19 - June 13, 2016, 11:58 AM
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Debbie, my husband died at home last year, after having liver cancer. He had been in the hospital for a couple of days, and wanted to come home. So he was at home in hospice for a couple of days before he died.

I can probably answer any questions you have, (except anything about the religious aspect, we are not Catholic) if you want to PM me.
#20 - June 13, 2016, 11:58 AM

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Debbie, if this isn't enough info, pm me. My dad died at home and I can give details, but it's still a little fresh for me to post here.
#21 - June 13, 2016, 11:58 AM

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It's a grim subject, but I wanted to say that it warms my heart to read about so many who got to die in their own homes.

a year ago DH and I took care of a terminally ill dear friend, who also got to die in his own lovely home, with hospice called in the last few days of his life. They were amazing.
They did tell us ahead of time that when called after death, they do not rush anything. Because our friend was of Norwegian extraction, his family wanted the body displayed in a public place in the house for others to pay their respects for a few days. (They said that in Norway the display can last a week, but they settled for two days.)  Two hospice nurses moved him from his bedroom to the living room, and his family arranged a lot of flowers all around him. He was already on a bed with wheels, which also came from hospice. After that, the funeral service people took care of the trip to the funeral home in a van. I think there were more people then.
#22 - June 13, 2016, 04:13 PM
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My mum died in her home after eight years with dementia. The priest was visiting almost daily at the end and gave her last rights the previous week. She died at three twenty in the morning. We called hospice nurses and they proclaimed her dead, and did the paperwork. We then called out the funeral director. He and his colleagues came out immediately. We said one last good bye and they carried her away. One interesting note. She had been on high dosages of morphine for the pain. Her bedroom was so toxic from that med that it was choking us. A few minutes after she passed my neice noticed a strong aroma of flowers emanating from her nana. At her insistence we went back over to her bed, we hadn't left the room, bent over her and were shocked that there was indeed a beautiful smell of fresh flowers. I'd never heard anything like it, none of us had. Later in the day another neice googled it. It seems in the Catholic church there is such a phenomena. It is called the , Odor of Sanctity. Whatever it was it was amazing.

Hope this is helpful
#23 - June 13, 2016, 08:59 PM
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Thanks, everyone. I think I have all of the info I need for now.
#24 - June 13, 2016, 09:33 PM
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Elibet, I've only read about the Odor of Sanctity but never smelled it myself. Your mum must be a saint!!!! What an amazing experience. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Vijaya
#25 - June 14, 2016, 07:17 AM
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