8 Questions to Ask Yourself

Who really likes to talk about death? Not many people do, but I wish they would. Most people have questions but whatever their reason may be they don’t always ask. Not once have I heard one of my families say “I wish I hadn’t been so prepared,” but the opposite I hear all too often. My heart breaks every time I sit down with a family and they have no idea what to do because they never had a conversation with their parent, spouse, grandparent etc.  At East Lawn we promote being well informed, educated and prepared for when your family experiences a death. We want to make sure all your questions are answered and you receive the most respectful, personalized, and premier service.  To help get the process started I sat down with Andrea Picot, a Funeral Home Manager, we put together the following Q&A to help answer many of the questions families may have but are too afraid to ask.. This isn’t a comprehensive list, if you find yourself with more questions please feel free to reach out to me directly and I would love to help facilitate these tough but necessary conversations (jessicah@eastlawn.com)  


  1. What can I do before a death occurs? 
  • Call and schedule a time to speak to one of our death care professionals about all your options and to answer any questions you may have. 
  • Come and visit our beautiful, peaceful, and friendly locations.  


  1. What do I do when a death occurs? 
  • Unexpected- First call 911 to report the death, then the authorities will explain to you what steps will take place next. Follow up with a call to East Lawn for us to help guide you through the next process. 
  • Hospice Care at Home- First call the hospice nurse to come out and pronounce the death. The hospice nurse can then call East Lawn for you and provide us with the necessary information we need to proceed with bringing your loved one into our care. 
  • Nursing Facility- The facility will contact you when the death has occurred if you are not present. Most facilities will know in advance to contact East Lawn when the time occurs. The nurse or you the family member may call us and we will gather all necessary information to proceed with the transfer of your loved one into our care. 
  • Hospital- Hospitals require a signed release from the funeral home. This can be done through email, fax, or in person. When the death has occurred in a hospital it is best to have a family member or close friend to call us so that we can walk you through the next steps in bringing your loved one into our care.


  1. What do I do if my loved one dies out of state?
  • East Lawn is absolutely able to assist if your loved one dies out of state. You will need to choose a funeral home in the state that you are in. We will work with the funeral home of your choice to organize the transfer of the deceased back to Sacramento and into our care. Call us at (916) 732-2000 or any of our locations for assistance. 


  1. Will East Lawn honor my religious beliefs? 
  • Here at East Lawn we honor and respect all rights, cultures, and beliefs. If you have any questions regarding specific religious beliefs or practices we recommend consulting with your Church or Clergy to help guide us through the service that we will provide for you and your loved one.


  1. Why do I need a Funeral Director? 
  • The role of a funeral director is to help the family take the first steps on their grief journey. It is their objective to help you create a meaningful celebration for your loved one, which will aid you on this journey. They also help with the following technical details:
    • Provide support and guidance through what often is a difficult and unfamiliar experience
    • Make arrangements for the celebration of life or funeral
    • Help notify friends and family through our website
    • Secure necessary permits and death certificates
    • Arrange for the transportation and care of the decedent 
    • Coordinate all details with the clergy or officiant
    • Help arrange for burial and/or cremation
    • Interface with the Veterans Administration (VA) if necessary
    • Assist with any insurance-related paperwork that need to be filed
    • Ensure everything goes according to plan for the service(s) and burial


  1. What are my options to memorialize my loved one?
  • Here at East Lawn we believe every person has a story to be told. We help create a memorable experience for you and your family on behalf of your loved one.  We can do this in many personalized ways and locations: 
    • Celebration of life at:
    • Family home
    • Restaurant
    • Winery
    • Golf club
    • VFW Hall
    • Masonic Lodge
    • Local Park
    • Reception hall
    • Funeral Home
    • Church
    • Or any other location of your choice
  • We are able to accommodate any of your celebration choices regardless of your decision to use burial or cremation as a form of disposition.


  1. What is the difference between a funeral and memorial service? 
  • We offer everything from traditional to non-traditional services.
  • Funeral Service: Is when the body of the deceased is present during part of the service. Burial or cremation will take place after the service.  
  • Memorial Service: (Also called Celebration of Life)  Is when the body of the deceased is not present during the memorial service. The cremation or burial has taken place prior to the celebration of life.


  1. Why should I spend money on a service?
  • At East Lawn we support the beginning of the grief journey. In order to help our families we serve, this begins by acknowledging the death and honoring the life lived and providing closure to surviving family and friends. We do this by personalizing and accommodating the unique needs of the family. We work closely with our families to stay within their financial means while providing a memorable moment.
  • Regardless of whether your loved one is buried or cremated, the ritual of a funeral or memorial service offers many benefits:
    • Provides a social support system for the bereaved
    • Helps the bereaved understand that death is final and part of life
    • Integrates the bereaved back into the community
    • Eases the transition to a new life after the death of a loved one
    • Provides a safe haven for embracing and expressing pain
    • Is a “safe space” and a special time to grieve
    • Reaffirms one’s relationship with the person who died
    • Provides a time to say good-bye
    • Allows the bereaved to begin the healing process


It amazes me that each and every one of us will in some way encounter or experience death yet so many of us are unprepared when death afflicts our family. There are steps that we can take to better prepare ourselves for when that time comes. We encourage you to sit down with your family and open up what will likely be a difficult but healthy conversation. We have many trained professionals available to answer any questions we may not have covered here seven days a week 365 days a year. Call us any time of the day or night at (916) 732-2000.


Author: Jessica Harston | Funeral Director at East Lawn Mortuary – FD # 1242