Where to Start

Where to Start

When a loved love dies there are so many unanswered questions. Our family knows that this process can be daunting and we are here to assist you and your loved ones from the moment a death occurs in your family. We've put together some of the important information you'll need to make the initial decisions, reach out to the appropriate people, and begin the process of designing your loved one's final farewell. 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 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'd be honored to walk you through this information in more detail and answer your questions. Don't hesitate to contact us for anything you might need.

Within Hours of a Death:

  • If a death is expected to happen soon, call your doctor or your hospice care provider to discuss what to do when or if a death happens in your home.

  • Call 911 right away if there is an unexpected death in your home or workplace. Emergency personnel will help you figure out the next steps. If no one else was present when the death occurred, you'll also need to notify the police before the deceased is moved to a secondary location. If the deceased was receiving hospice care, call the hospice care provider.

  • When a death occurs while your loved one is in a hospital, care facility or hospice program, the professional staff will notify you and contact the appropriate authorities. If you've already given them the name of a funeral home, the facility will contact them as well.

  • Contact close family and/or friends of the deceased, the deceased’s doctor (if a hospice is not involved), and the deceased’s lawyer, if any. If the deceased cared for dependents (for example, grandchildren), make arrangements immediately for their care. 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.

  • Your initial call with our funeral home staff will allow us to inquire about any prearrangements and gather the information we need to transport your loved one to the funeral home, but you can also feel free to ask any questions you may have and resolve any of your initial concerns. At later meetings you'll be able to discuss your arrangements in greater detail, one of the important items will be to understand if you will be choosing cremation or embalming. We're always available in your time of need to provide emotional support, a sympathetic ear, and careful guidance. If you're ever unsure of whom you should notify or what your next steps should be, please call us for assistance at any time to determine the appropriate course of action for your particular situation.

  • Look for any written instructions (sometimes called a “Letter of Instruction,” “Final Instructions”, or "Disposition Authorization") for funeral or memorial service arrangements, and burial or cremation arrangements. Also look to see if the deceased named a "Designated Agent" to take care of those arrangements (sometimes this is included in the deceased's Advance Directive documents such as in their Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, or in a Living Will). If not found, ask close friends, the deceadents lawyer if they know where these instructions are. Also, look for any pre-paid services, such as burial services or cremation.

  • Find the deceased’s important papers and documents as soon as possible. If necessary, ask close family, friends, or the deceased's lawyer if they know where these important papers can be found, and the location of a bank safety deposit box, if any. In Pennsylvania safety deposit boxes in banks of the deceased are sealed for inventory after a death. However, anyone who has legal access has the right to have the bank perform a will and legal papers check. If important documents such as a Will, insurance, and "Final Instructions" letters are in the safe box they will be handed over to the next of kin.

Within the First Few Days

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 arranging a funeral.

If your loved one has not specified any arrangements or preferences beforehand, there are some initial questions you will likely need to answer when you consult with your funeral home:

  • Do I need to purchase a casket?
  • Will I care for my loved one's physical remains through burial or cremation?
  • What sort of funeral or memorial service should I plan?
  • Are there any religious traditions or customs I need to plan for?
  • Should I engage the services of a clergy member or spiritual leader?

These questions are just a starting point, and you don't need to know the answers right away. Start thinking about your decisions, and contact us to gain a better understanding of your options and discuss what might be the most appropriate solution for your situation. We're here to make this process easier for you, and we can start by making sure that you have all of the information and guidance you'll need.

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.

Also, know that, during your time of loss, your greatest resource will be loved ones who want to offer their assistance in any way they can. We encourage you to get in touch with relatives, neighbors, friends, clergy members or other spiritual advisers, and other trusted members of your community. They are often more than happy to prepare food, look after children, help with arrangements, or simply offer a kind word and open arms.

When You Meet With Us

When you meet with a member of our staff to discuss your arrangements, we'll first provide you with a general price list to give you a basic idea of what our services cost. We'll then walk you through the entire arrangement process, and ask you about your loved one to gain an understanding of the person the services will honor. 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 guide you in the creation of a personalized, meaningful celebration of your loved one's unique journey.

This process may include:

  • Preparing the official death certificate
  • Scheduling the services and events (including the location, date, and time)
  • Selecting a casket, urn, or other merchandise you may need
  • Drafting an obituary
  • Arranging necessary transportation
  • Selecting and arranging for pallbearers
  • Selecting and arranging for flower


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 this process as smooth and stress-free for you as we can, and you can come prepared for your meeting by making sure that you have the following information about your loved one on hand when you meet with our professionals to discuss your arrangements:

  • Full legal name & home address
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Father's name, father's place of birth, date of birth and date of death (if applicable)
  • Mother's maiden name, mother's place of birth, date of birth and date of death (if applicable)
  • Veteran's discharge papers (DD-214), if applicable
  • Highest education
  • Occupation
  • Chosen place of burial and deed (if applicable)
  • Clergy name and phone number, (if applicable)
  • Names and relationships of survivors
  • Insurance policy information, (if applicable)
  • Please bring a photograph
  • Please also bring any clothing you'd like us to use when dressing them for the service.

Charles M. Noll Funeral Home | (570) 322-0743
1 East Central Ave., South Williamsport, PA

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