When a Death Occurs

Making funeral or memorial arrangements for a loved one can be overwhelming.  We have gathered important information that you will need to make the initial decisions, reach out to the appropriate people, and begin the process of creating a lasting tribute. Remember that, as you begin to cope with your loss, it’s often a good idea to enlist the help and support of a trusted friend and other family members in making the necessary arrangements. If you have any questions about your next steps, the options available to you, or what the funeral arrangement process will entail, we are we will listen to your needs, answer questions and provide guidance.


What to do First

If the death was unexpected
When an unexpected death occurs at home or in the workplace, you’ll need to contact emergency personnel, such as the police and medical first responders, by calling 911. The police will in turn notify the Johnson County Medical Examiner. The medical examiner will come to the place of death and speak with family members or colleagues about the deceased, their medical history and other pertinent information which will help to determine the cause of death. The medical examiner will also ask for your funeral home selection.

The medical examiner may transfer the deceased to the hospital for an autopsy if deemed necessary. After the completion of the autopsy the selected funeral home will be notified. We will transfer the deceased to our funeral home from the medical examiner’s office. If the medical examiner determines, after investigating the death, that an autopsy need not be done we will be notified and will transfer your loved from the place of death to the funeral home.

The death certificate will be delivered by the funeral director to the medical examiner for completion. If the medical examiner is awaiting autopsy and toxicology results the death certificate may not be signed for 4-8 weeks.


If the death was expected
If a death occurs while your loved one is a patient in a hospital, care facility or under the care of hospice, the professional staff of that facility will notify the decedent’s doctor and the attending nurse or other licensed caregiver will pronounce the death. They will notify the funeral home of the death and we come to the facility and transfer your loved one to our funeral home. You may wish to wait for our arrival.

"My husband Tom had a massive stroke and died suddenly in California. One phone call to Michael and all arrangements in California and Iowa City were taken care of. It was wonderful to know everything was in caring and excellent hands. Everyone at Lensing’s helped through a very stressful time."



Within the First Few Days

After you’ve taken care of the initial necessary arrangements, you’ll want to notify friends and relatives of the death. If it is too painful for you to do this yourself, it’s absolutely okay for a trusted friend to make the call in your place. Now is the time to review any prearranged wishes or plans your loved one may have put in place, and meet with the professionals at your chosen funeral home to discuss your options and begin designing a funeral or memorial. You may want to consider what you wish to include in the obituary..

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have about what you need to do, even if your concerns aren’t directly related to the funeral. We’re well-versed in all topics relating to the loss of a loved one, and we’d be honored to provide you with answers, advice, and guidance in your time of need.



A Network of Support

Know that, during your time of loss, your greatest emotional support may come from loved ones and close friends. Do not be afraid to reach out to those you can trust. Family and friends are often more than happy to prepare food, look after children, help with arrangements, or simply offer a kind word and open arms. It is important for you to have your own space during this difficult time. Remember  each of us grieve in our own way.



What to Expect When You Meet with the Funeral Director

When you meet with a member of our staff to discuss funeral arrangements, we will first provide you with a general price list, as required by the Federal Trade Commission. The price list will give you a basic idea of what our services cost. We’ll then guide you through the entire arrangement process. We want to learn more about the life of your loved one. Use this time to communicate your ideas and preferences, share your loved one’s life story, revisit memories and highlight their accomplishments. Our professionals will use this information to help you create a personalized, meaningful service that celebrates your loved one’s unique journey though life.

The funeral and memorial arrangement process will include:

  • Preparing and filing the official death certificate
  • Scheduling the services and events (including the location, date, and time)
  • Selection of a casket, urn, or other merchandise
  • Drafting an obituary for your consideration
  • Arranging necessary transportation for the service
  • Selection of pallbearers

To help express your loved one’s personality and life story, feel free to bring any memorabilia—like photos, videos, music, crafts, or treasured items—that might give us a better understanding of how you envision paying tribute to your loved one. Even if you’re not sure how a particular aspect of their life might be incorporated, don’t hesitate to ask; we can often make unique suggestions on a way to add that element as a special touch to their service.

We’d like to make the funeral arrangements as comfortable as possible. If you can bring the following information it would be much appreciated.

  • Full legal name & home address
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Father’s name
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Veteran’s discharge papers (DD-214), if applicable
  • Highest education
  • Occupation
  • Chosen place of burial, if applicable
  • Clergy name and phone number, if applicable
  • Names and relationships of survivors
  • Insurance policy information, if applicable

Please bring a photograph for the obituary and any clothing that you select for your loved one.


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