Do you need immediate support? Please contact us
Ten important questions we can help you answer.
If a death has happened unexpectedly at home in Nova Scotia, you will need to call 911. This is essential.
Expected death at home:
Contact the physician or nurse practitioner who was taking care of the person. If you have been providing end-of-life care for someone at home, and the death is expected, you may have completed a an Expected Death at Home form, in which case you do not need to call 911. Nova Scotia Health has resources to explain the process.
At a nursing home or long term care residence:
There may or may not be staff available right away to certify the death – and that needs to happen. You may want to stay or you may need to rest and get some fresh air. Again, there is no rush to move the person right away.
In hospital or hospice:
The medical team will support immediate needs. They may ask for your chosen funeral service and if you need time, it’s okay to say you will tell them shortly. They will arrange the death certificate. You will need to have a “Medical Certificate of Death” – this is completed by a medical professional and includes the cause of death.
You will likely want to call family and friends – and if you know who the executor is, call that person soon.
Every death in Nova Scotia is registered with Vital Statistics. Once the death is registered, you can apply for a Death Certificate from Vital Statistics – this legal record confirms that a death took place in Nova Scotia and is used as a proof of death. This is different from a “Statement of Death” that is issued by a funeral director.
Death certificates can be “short” or “long” formats – you generally need only the short one. It is a good idea to check with the organizations that require proof of death to learn exactly what they need. We can help with all of this.
Ideally, the person who died has shared their wishes with their next of kin and executor and so decision-making may be easier. If that has not happened, some conversation may be needed to decide on whether you will be choosing a full body burial or cremation. Epilog supports environmental options – and our first choice is always full body, natural burial. If you wish to arrange a natural burial or if cremation is your choice, and you wish to have an environmentally enhanced approach to cremation, it will be our honour to be chosen to support you. Call us at your earliest convenience and we will start the process of enabling your wishes and empowering your decision making. And if you wish to have some other type of service (e.g., if you wish to have embalming), we will refer you to our partner to serve you.
Have you chosen a cemetery? There are numerous cemeteries in Nova Scotia that welcome green or natural burials, and we can help you with that. We liaise with the cemetery and coordinate all the details for you – or support the actions you want to handle yourself. Even if you already have a gravesite purchased, we can look at how to make it a “greener” choice.
Or maybe you have chosen cremation – we can coordinate an environmentally enhanced, direct cremation (meaning the body goes directly to our crematorium partner or to another crematorium of your choice) or perhaps you want a vigil or wake first – we can help arrange that to happen in a location of your choice. And if you want the remains buried or scattered, we can support that too.
Again, we will facilitate your preference. There are options for locally made biodegradable caskets or shrouds – or maybe someone has made one already. We can help source exactly what you want. And if you have opted for cremation, we can help with a biodegradable container as well.
We will coordinate whatever is most meaningful for you. You can do everything in a home or you may opt for visitation at our partner’s beautiful location in Lower Sackville. We can help you with after death body care and dressing at home – or we can do it all – in your chosen location or at our partner’s space.
You can be as traditional or creative as you wish. From a church, synagogue, mosque, or other faith-based venue, to your living room or the yard at the cottage, we will do our best to coordinate your wishes. We will talk through all the options with you and your decisions will guide the process.
We are happy to collaborate with any clergy or faith leaders you have in mind – or we have Celebrants who can officiate and support a traditional or personalized, creative service that is designed around your wishes. The focus is to honour the person who has died while meeting the needs of their family and friends. It is an important part of grieving – sharing stories, creating a photo collection, writing a poem – these are all helpful in the natural grieving process.
You may want to have a gathering before or after other parts of an event – there are no rules! Whether it’s a traditional reception with egg sandwiches and squares, tea at home, a picnic in the woods, dinner at a favourite place, or a tribute at a pub – we can help. You can have refreshments of your choice, recorded or live music or other performances. Perhaps the person was a hockey enthusiast and you want the hockey team to do something special or maybe cycling friends want to organize a special ride. Or maybe the person was an avid bird watcher and their friends want to create a photo display or take a walk together. Or maybe the person was a dancer and their dance partners wish to create a special tribute in their memory. It’s all good – and we will be honoured to help make it happen.
This can include everything from notifying government agencies to advising the bank and others. We can help with all of that – or not, as you wish. Maybe there is an apartment or home to be cleared and cleaned – we can help with that too!
Grief is a sign that you have loved someone and you don’t just “get over it” or “move on” – grief is messy and personal and it can be all consuming. We will continue to be available to support you and your family. We are not grief counsellors but our team includes end-of-life doulas and they are wonderful, trained supports as you navigate the path ahead.