Where to Begin

Where to Begin

Planning a funeral can be overwhelming, but know that you are not alone. Our family and staff is here to support you throughout this journey, and make this process one of love, healing and life celebration. Below, we have provided you and your family some basic information to help you get started. However, please know that you can contact us at any time for additional information.

Within Hours After Death

We understand that every death is different, and the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s passing will dictate what will happen within the first few hours.

My loved one passed at home under the care of Hospice
Many times our families wish to pass away at home, surrounded by family, friends and things that are meaningful to them. Many doctors understand this wish and will assist the family by offering the support of hospice. At the time of your loved one’s passing, you will want to make sure that you first contact the hospice team assisting you during this time, if they are not already with your family. Once you have contacted them, a nurse will come and will assist you in preparing your loved one for our arrival. Many times, the hospice nurse will contact the funeral home for you, so they will need to know the name of the firm you have selected. Once they have spoken with the funeral home, they will often remain with your family until our staff arrives.

My loved one passed at home and was not under the care of Hospice
When a loved one passes at home, families are not always certain what to do. Should you and your family find yourself in this situation, it is important to remain calm, and immediately contact 911. They will dispatch emergency personnel who will assist you during this time. When they arrive, they will ask you questions to help them understand what has happened and will require the names of your loved ones doctors, as well as any medications and health problems that you know about. Police Officers on scene will work with your loved one’s doctors and the county coroner or medical examiner’s office to determine whether your loved one may be released to the funeral home, or first be taken to the coroner/medical examiner’s office.

My loved one passed away in a nursing home/long term facility
For those with older loved ones, their passing may take place at a nursing home or other long-term care facility. In the event that your loved one has passed before you have arrived at the facility, the staff of the facility may wait to contact the funeral home until they have spoken with you. Notification of the passing for these deaths will often come from the nursing staff, however, we encourage you to also notify us of the passing as well. This will help prevent any miscommunication or delays. Unless otherwise notified by the facility, you and your loved ones may stay until our staff arrives.

My loved one passed away at a hospital
When a loved one passes at a hospital, the circumstances of the passing will dicate who may be notified of the passing. Often times, if the death occurs in the Emergency Room, the patient was not in the hospital for longer than 24 hours, or died unexpectedly, hospital staff may be required by law to contact the county coroner or medical examiner’s office, before notifying the funeral home of the passing. Hospitals here in Northeast Ohio will require that the family provide them with the name of the funeral home they wish to handle their loved one’s service. While hospital

Our family and staff understand that the first few hours after the passing of your loved one are often the most emotional and can be confusing. Know that we are here to support you and help you. Please call us anytime if you are unsure of what to do or have questions.

Within the First Few Days

Within the first few days of your loved one’s passing, you and your family will be asked to make decisions based on your loved one’s wishes and requests. Decisions may include funeral arrangements, notifications to family and friends of the passing, and the fulfilling of memorial requests.

Understanding and knowing what families may have to face in these first days, our family and staff in here to assist you when you are ready and able to meet with us. Our Funeral Directors are here to guide you on this journey and answer questions that you may have, so you can understand the options available to help celebrate the memories, the stories, and the life of your loved one.

Know that during this time, you and your family will want to review your loved one’s funeral wishes, whether they prearranged their services or not. Should they have prearranged their funeral and funded it, the funeral home will have a copy of their wishes on file, and will be able to quickly assist you in scheduling services. However, if they did not prearrange services, you and your family will want to think about the following:

  • Did your loved one want a burial or cremation
  • If a burial, what type of casket would they want
  • If a burial, the location of their final resting place, including cemetery and whether they would want a cemetery plot or entombement in a mausoleum
  • If cremation, the type of urn they would want
  • Also if cremation, their wishes about their final resting place
  • Any religious services, whether traditional or modified
  • The type of service they wished, including a visitation, service, memorial, etc.

What to Expect When We Meet

Know that when you meet with a member of our family and staff, you are meeting with someone who wants to help you tell your loved one’s story in a way that is meaningful to them, as well as your family. Every story is different, and we want to help your family write the perfect ending.

Our meetings can take place wherever you and your family are the most comfortable, including at the funeral home, your own home, a church or a neutral location, such as a café or park. Our family and staff understands that the decisions you may have to make can be stressful, and we are here to make this process easier for you. Meetings may also take place over the telephone, through email or video conference, in the event that meeting in person cannot take place.

During our meeting, we want to know about your loved one, so please don’t feel ashamed to share memories and stories. Our staff will ask questions to better get to know your loved one, and help personalize items such as caskets and printing work, to better share your loved one’s story. We encourage you to communicate your ideas, preferences and wishes so we can gain an understanding of how we can best help you.

Together with your family, our staff will:

  • Gather information required to prepare and file legal documents, including, but not limited to death certificates, insurance forms and military documents
  • Schedule services and events, including securing locations, specific dates and times
  • Select a casket, urn or other merchandise you and your family may want
  • Draft and submit death notices and obituaries
  • Arrange necessary transportation
  • Discuss other needs as they come up


To help us in making this process as smooth and stress-free for you as our family and staff can, we ask that you bring the following information about your loved one with you, if you are able:

  • Full legal name and home address
  • Social security number
  • Date and city and state of Birth
  • Parents names, including mother’s maiden name
  • Veteran's discharge papers (DD-214), if applicable
  • Education information, including how far they went in school
  • Occupation information
  • Any cemetery information you may have, including cemetery deeds, receipts or invoices
  • Clergy name and phone number, if applicable
  • Names and relations of family members you’d like listed in death notices or obituaries
  • Insurance policy information, including name, policy number and beneficiary information
  • A recent photograph that we can use for the death notice, printing work and can be used in preparing your loved one’s hair and makeup
  • Clothing, should you have it ready

Walter Martens & Sons Funeral Home
Phone: (216) 281-7111
9811 Denison Ave., Cleveland, OH 44102

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