Who to call FIRST …

  • Hospice Nurse (if the deceased was in hospice care)
  • Call the Sheriff’s Office at (858) 565-5200 if death occurs somewhere other than a nursing home or medical facility

Next, decide whether to:


  • Have family and friends handle deathcare (requires a good deal of planning ahead),
  • Use a combination of above options
  • Whole Body Donation: If the deceased wished to be a whole body donor, don’t call a funeral home.  Here are two organizations that can help:
    UCSD Body Donation Program
    Lifesharing Donate Life Organization

Notes on Body Donation: 

  • Even if the decedent pre-registered, the organization will have to determine – based on the condition of the body at the time of death – if it is still acceptable for donation. If it is, they will make arrangements to transport the deceased to their facility as soon as possible.
  • Bodies donated to UCSD are cremated (with no cost to the family) and the ashes scattered at sea.
  • Provide information required for the death certificate(s).
  • Optional: Submit an obituary to newspaper(s).  All of our funeral homes will help you with this.

Prior to Final Disposition (Optional):

  • Visitation / Wake / Vigil (Where?)
  • Funeral service prior to burial or cremation (Where?)
  • Only brief service at graveside
  • Memorial service / celebration of life (anywhere, at any time; often occurs after burial or cremation)

Final Disposition of Remains (and associated costs):

  • Body Burial (casket or shroud, plot, liner if required, opening/closing of grave, marker)
  • Body Entombment in mausoleum (vault, non-sealer casket, opening/closing, inscription)
  • Cremation:
    • Urn Burial (urn, plot, liner if required, opening/closing, marker)
    • Ennichment in columbarium (urn, niche)
    • Scattering
    • Keep cremated remains (urn)