When Death Occurs

When a death occurs, there are decisions to be made immediately, arrangements to be coordinated, and a lot of things to be considered for your loved one’s final farewell. On this page, we’ve put together helpful information to guide you through this process and to help you understand what to do when death occurs.

Notify Proper Authorities

Your first step is to contact Ryan Funeral Home. The funeral home is here to help you and your family through your time of loss and assist with the coordination of your personalized funeral arrangements to honor the person you lost with dignity, respect, and compassion.

If no one was present at the time of death, or the death occurred at home or another location, you will need to get in touch with emergency medical/law enforcement personnel, as the cause of death must be identified and indicated in legal documents prior to moving the deceased to another location. The authorized personnel will contact the funeral home directly.

If the death occurred at a nursing home, hospital, or in hospice care, the facility would notify Ryan Funeral Home of the death. If the death occurred outside of a care facility or hospice care environment, then a Medical Examiner or the proper authorities will notify the funeral home of the death.

Meet the Funeral Director/Staff

Typically, a Funeral Director from Ryan Funeral Home will contact the family to schedule a meeting date and time to discuss the final arrangements after the notification of the death has been received. Below is a list of some items you may need to prepare for that meeting.

  • RConsider the location, date and time of visitation, funeral and/or memorial service.
  • RConsider items to be featured at these services:
  • KWhat would they want done in their memory, or not want done.
  • KItems to be displayed or used during these services, such as keepsakes, photos, readings, poems, prayers, psalms, songs, music, hymns, pall bearers, favorite flowers, favorite colors.
  • KIf a burial is desired, determine the cemetery to be used and whether a plot or headstone have already been purchased or are already in place.
  • RConsider the Celebration of Life/Luncheon, location, timing, and menu.
  • RConsider the Obituary. The funeral home can assist with or write the complete obituary. Consider which publications you would like the obituary placed in and select the photo to be featured. The funeral home will submit the approved content to the determined newspapers. The photo will be scanned and returned intact.

Gather Obituary Information

Optional information can include age, place of birth, cause of death, occupation, education, memberships or affiliations, volunteer work, military service, personal traits, list of surviving family members, and those that were preceded in death. Include time and place of services. 

You may also consider choosing an appropriate memorial to which monetary gifts may be made in lieu of flowers. (I.e., charity/association, church, hospice, library, or school).

Death Certificate

The funeral home will assist you in determining the number of copies of the death certificates you will need and can order them for you. The information you will need to provide includes Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Father’s name (including middle initial), Mother’s name (including middle initial and maiden name), Social Security Number, Years of Education, and Industry/Occupation.

 Veteran’s Services

If there is eligibility for Veteran’s Services, you will need a copy of the Veteran’s Discharge Paperwork (DD-214) or Claim Number. The funeral home can assist with arranging the desired Veteran’s Honors services.

Social Security Benefits

The funeral home will notify Social Security. The family will need to contact Social Security to schedule a time to meet with them directly. If Social Security checks are automatically deposited, it is recommended to notify the bank of the death as well.

Notify Family & Friends

Make a list of immediate family, close friends, employers, and business colleagues who will need to be notified. Determine who will be responsible for notifying these individuals.

We also recommend arranging for members of family or close friends to take turns answering the door or phone, keeping a careful record of calls.

what our families say

Tiffany Foster went out of her way to fulfill all my requests, talked me through problems I was facing, and tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible when I was a wreck, totally crushed, and I thank her with all of my heart for that.

James S. | July 2020

The professional manner of the staff made a difficult time a little easier.

Lynda R. | July 2020

Services provided for both parents were perfect, on time, and no issues. Brenda is awesome and strong!

Michael M. | July 2020

Skyler was absolutely amazing. She was so caring and helpful through this whole process. She even went above and beyond to meet with us in DeForest and even to make a stop at our home to drop off or pick up anything needed. While it was a small gesture, it was so helpful and greatly appreciated.

Brooke S. | Dec. 2020

Madison North East

2418 N. Sherman Avenue
Madison, WI 53704
Tel: 608-249-8257

Madison West

5701 Odana Road
Madison, WI 53719
Tel: 608-274-1000


220 S. Enterprise Drive
Verona, WI 53593
Tel: 608-845-6625

DeForest / Windsor

6924 Lake Road
DeForest, WI 53532
Tel: 608-846-4250