Education Article — Support

What To Do When Your Person Dies

We understand that death can be an overwhelming time. It is our mission to make the death care process as straightforward and gentle as possible. 

Here is what to do when a death occurs:

1. Call Recompose to notify us of the death.

It’s okay to take time with your person’s body before calling us. Death is a momentous event. Taking a moment to breathe and be present can be a meaningful and rare opportunity.

If your person dies in a hospital or care facility, you can let the facility staff know that Recompose is your funeral home of choice, and they will notify us of the death for you.

When you are ready, call Recompose at (206) 800-8733 extension 1.  We will ask you a few questions on this call, including:

  • Name and date of birth of the person who has died
  • Gender of the person who has died for identification purposes
  • Date and time of death
  • Doctor’s name and phone number, if known, to help verify the death certificate

It is ideal for Recompose to be notified of a death within 24 hours so we can file the death certificate, which must be filed within 72 hours of death. You can also call us if you expect a death within the next few days or weeks, or for background information any time.

If your person is coming to Recompose from outside of Washington and you are working with an additional funeral home for transport, you will also need to notify them at this time. They may have their own procedures for transport. In this instance, Recompose will coordinate with the funeral home to pick up your person’s body.

If the death was unexpected or the person was not under medical care, the death must be recorded by the local authorities. If this is the case, please call 911.

2. Take time with your person.

While it is important to notify us of a death within 24 hours so we can begin the legal paperwork, there is no required timeline for us to pick up your person’s body. You can take a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days to be with your person after their death. It can provide a chance to say goodbye, grieve, memorialize, or celebrate your person.

We encourage you to consider spending time with your person’s body. People experience a range of emotions during this time, and all are valid. If your person dies at home, Recompose staff can show you how to care for your person until you are ready for pickup.

If your person dies in a hospital or care facility, the facility may give you more time at your request. Talk to your care provider about the opportunities that might be available.

2. When you are ready, call Recompose to arrange for pickup.

If your person dies at a hospital or care facility, they will likely handle this step for you.

If your person’s body is at a home, let us know when you are ready for Recompose to arrange for pickup. Before our transport staff arrives, we will ask you for a few more details about your person including:

  • Location and address where we will be picking up your person
  • Size of the person who has died to determine the type of equipment we may need
  • Whether the location has stairs
  • Whether friends or family will be present at the time of pickup

If you are planning to transport your person to Recompose yourself, we will help you make sure you have the correct permits and information you need to do so safely and legally at this time. We will also give you directions for how to reach our facility and schedule a time to pick up your person.

3. Recompose takes your person into our care.

If we are handling pickup, Recompose staff will arrive at your location in a vehicle that looks like a minivan. They will introduce themselves, review the details you shared on the phone about your person, and answer any questions you have. They will be wearing masks and gloves. Please note that during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Recompose requires anyone who is present to wear face coverings.

When you’re ready, you can take our staff to your person’s body. If there are any stairs or other features that may require special equipment, we will determine the best way to safely transport your person out of the location.

As we prepare your person’s body for transport, we welcome your presence and participation – you can decide how you’d like to participate in the moment. We will wrap the body in protective plastic covering, secure them onto a stretcher, and cover them in a soft linen quilt. This will be the last time you see your person’s body before they are transformed into soil. If you choose, you can take this moment as an opportunity to say a final goodbye to your person and wish them well on the next phase of their journey.

4. Recompose confirms details of your person and their wishes.

After pickup, Recompose staff will call you within 24 hours to schedule a virtual meeting to discuss details of your person and their wishes. This meeting will cover the signing of the contract, payment, and any other details. This is sometimes called an arrangement meeting.

If you have them, please bring the following forms to this meeting:

  • Disposition Authorization (designating their wishes for their body)
  • Designated Agent for Funeral Arrangements (designating a person to make decisions for their body)
  • Vital Statistics (demographic information for the death certificate)

If your person was a member of our prepayment program Precompose, Recompose may already have this information on file.

It’s also okay if your person did not complete these forms in advance of their death. In that case, our services manager Morgan will schedule a virtual meeting with you to do so. It can be helpful to bring your person’s social security card or birth certificate to this meeting, if you have them. You can see samples of the information required on each form here:

Recompose requires payment in full before we begin the process of transforming the body into soil. The Recompose price is $5,500. You can read full details of what is included here. We accept payment by check or card. 

If you any questions, you can reach services manager Morgan Yarborough at (206) 800-8733 extension 1. Our staff is here to support you every step of the way.

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Recompose acknowledges we make our lives and livelihoods on the lands of the Coast Salish People, specifically the Duwamish People. We honor with gratitude the Duwamish People past and present, the land itself, and the Duwamish Tribe.

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