Practical Information for Caregivers Following the Death of a Child
What happens to the body of your loved one after he or she dies?
After death, you and your family will be able to spend time with your child and can share with hospital staff any special cleansing rituals or needed preparation. Your chaplain, social worker and/or nurse will be available to answer questions and to guide you through the process of leaving the hospital. The Spiritual Care Department will continue to care for your child as long as he/she remains at Children’s Health.
What arrangements do I need to make for my child?
If you have not done so already, you will need to select a funeral home and share this information with the Spiritual Care Department at 214-456-2822. Please note that this information must be provided to Spiritual Care by a legal guardian. Your chaplain at Children’s Health will then arrange for your child to get to your selected funeral home. The funeral home will assist you with funeral arrangements, service plans, disposition, obituary information, and the death certificate.
I have chosen to have an autopsy done. What are the next steps and when will the report be available?
If you have chosen to have an autopsy done, it will typically happen 24-48 hours after you leave the hospital. This will need to be considered when deciding on arrangements with a funeral home.
It typically takes approximately three months for the autopsy report to be available, and once it is ready, a letter will be mailed to your address. At any time, you may call 214-456-2870 to check on its status and once it is ready, you may request a phone or in-person meeting with a physician to discuss the results. The report will not automatically be mailed to you, but can be requested by filling out a request at medical records request. Please note, that the medical terminology is often difficult to understand, so a physician meeting is highly recommended.
I was informed that my child is being taken to the Medical Examiner. How do I contact them and what are the next steps I should take?
What is the process for obtaining a death certificate?
The funeral home is responsible for gathering the information needed for the death certificate and will electronically send it to your child’s physician to sign it. Once it is signed, the funeral home is then able to order the death certificates for the family. This process may take several weeks and have associated fees. After this process has been completed, families can request additional copies of the death certificate by contacting the local Bureau of Vital Statistics.
What additional tasks will I need to address over the coming month?
- Notify government programs from which your child received benefits (SSI, SSDI), Medicaid, WIC, etc.)
- Notify your medical insurance company
- Notify other physicians, therapists, etc. who cared for your child
- Cancel your child’s prescriptions
- Contact your child’s daycare or school to un-enroll child
- Notify or cancel your child’s outside activities (sports, music, scouting, etc.)
- Cancel driver’s license, cell phone numbers, social media accounts, email accounts, and websites to protect your child’s identity
How do I get a copy of my loved one’s medical record?
What information do I need to meet make funeral arrangements?
- Full legal name and address of your child
- Social security number (if applicable)
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Occupation (if applicable)
- Place of burial
- Clergy name and phone number (if applicable)
- Survivors (name and relationship)
- Insurance policies (if applicable)
What are my disposition options?
You may choose burial or cremation for your loved one. Costs will vary and are typically separate from the cost of the funeral. Please note, that Texas law mandates a 48-hour waiting period prior to cremation.
Who can I reach out to for bereavement support or resources?