What to do when you lose a loved one in MB

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A death in the family is a most unthinkable event. When it happens, we are left in shock and grief. But life goes on. However hard it is, after the initial grieving, one must begin to think about the practical things that follow, such as arranging the funeral and burial. For newcomers, this can be a complicated matter. Issues such as finances, observance of funeral rites and rituals of your culture, and where to bury are just some of the things newcomers must figure out. Many do not know where to go or who to ask for support.

The following is a guide that will provide you:

  1. avenues for support ; and
  2. a checklist of steps to take in making the final arrangements.

Newcomer supports:

Winnipeg – If you are overwhelmed with your situation and your closest family and friends are in your home country, you can approach your nearest Neighborhood Immigrant Settlement Worker (NISW) for assistance. NISWs offer free support. They will assess your situation and refer you to appropriate agencies that can help you. There are 10 locations in Winnipeg you can go for help.

Regional – You can approach one of the 13 regional settlement service offices all over Manitoba for assistance.

Who can make final arrangements:

NISWs and settlement provider organizations can point you to the right direction for help. But it will still be the Executor or next of kin who will have to decide and make the final arrangements.

An Executor/Executing Next of Kin is the person who is named in the deceased’s will to make final arrangements. A will is “a written document that controls the disposal of a person’s property after death” (A legal information guide for seniors, Manitoba Government).

If the deceased does not have an Executor, the responsibility falls on the next of kin, such as the spouse or the adult children.

Who to inform first:

Expected death. If the deceased had been sick for a while or has been confined in a hospital, inform the health care provider or doctor. If the death occurred in the hospital, the staff there will arrange for the death registration to be done.

Unexpected death. Call emergency services (911). The Coroner’s office may also be involved if an autopsy or inquest is needed.

The doctor or coroner will complete the death registration form.

Immediate arrangements:

  1. Acquire a death certificate – a death certificate is the official registration of death. If you intend to hire a funeral director, he or she may provide you with a copy of a proof of death (which may be used under certain circumstances). You will need the death certificate in order to deal with the deceased’s financial assets and properties as well as claim death benefits. How to apply; Application Form. You can also apply online: Online Certificate Application.
  2. If the deceased is an organ donor – check the deceased’s Manitoba Health Card if he/she has filled out the Donor Card portion.The next of kin will be asked to confirm this. If the deceased wished to donate his/her entire body for medical research and education, you can contact the Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Science at the University of Manitoba.
  3. If the deceased has an insurance plan, inform the provider (or agent). They will inform you of the steps in claiming the insurance benefit.
  4. Check if the deceased has a Pre-arranged Funeral Plan. Contact the funeral director for the coverage and arrangements.
  5. Inform your family and friends.
  6. Inform the deceased’s employer or school.

Arranging the funeral

A funeral director is a person who can do most of the final arrangements for the deceased. In Manitoba, it is not required to have a funeral director. However, it is recommended to have one. Having an expert handle the arrangements can help ease your burden.

A licensed funeral director would know all the requirements and regulations surrounding funerals and burials in Manitoba. You can also discuss with them any particular requests of the deceased (or the family of the deceased) regarding funeral and burial arrangements. The funeral director can present and review with you the cost of the goods and services required in the ceremonies. Read the Frequently Asked Questions page of The Funeral Board of Manitoba to know more.

Burying the deceased in your home country?

There are regulations to be followed for transporting the body or the remains of your loved one outside of Canada. These concern the presentation of proper documents as well as regulations for sensitive cargo (read: Memorandum D19-9-3 Importation and Exportation of Human Remains and Other Human Tissues; Air Transportation of Human Remains in Canada to get an idea of regulations and costs). Also, there are airline regulations, depending on the airline you choose. A funeral director or funeral home can handle the arrangements for you. You (or the funeral home) will also have to make the necessary delivery and collection arrangements once the deceased reaches its destination.

Death and survivorship benefits

Allowance for the survivor – this is a benefit available to people aged 60-64 who have low income, are living in Canada, and whose spouse or common-law partner is deceased. Sponsored/non-sponsored immigrants must meet certain conditions and residency requirements.
Death benefit – this is a one-time, lump sum payment to the estate on behalf of the deceased Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributor.
Child benefit – CPP children’s benefit provide monthly payments to the dependent children (under the age of 25) of disabled or deceased CPP contributors.
Survivor’s Pension – CPP survivor’s pension is paid to the person who, at the time of death, is the legal spouse or common-law partner of the deceased contributor.
Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children Grant
Bereavement Leave – if you are employed, you may be entitled to unpaid time off to deal with the death of a family member without fear of job loss. Under the Employment Standards Code, employees are allowed to take up to three days leave to deal with the death of a family member.

Compassionate Care Benefits – these are Employment Insurance (EI) benefits paid to people who have to be away from work temporarily to care for a family member who is gravely ill and has a significant risk of death.

What to cancel:

Finally, you will need to cancel the deceased’s pensions and benefits, SIN, Manitoba Health Care insurance, driver’s licence, bank account/s, and credit cards. Go to: Dealing with death (Manitoba.ca) to find the list of agencies to notify. Also read Death and finances: 5 things to do to settle the affairs of a loved one to identify what other personal and financial obligations your loved had that you need to manage.

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Community Resources

Useful links:
Following a death (Service Canada) ; What to do when someone has died (Canada Revenue Agency); Dealing with death (Canada Benefits.gc.ca).

Deceased Estate Handbook, Province of Manitoba.

Manitoba Compensation for Victims of Crime Program.

Family Dynamics (In-Home Family Support) – Practical assistance with child care, household management and emotional support during difficult times. Fees take into account your income and family size.

Grief counselling:
A Directory of Community-Based Bereavement Support Programs (from Palliative Manitoba, as of June 2016)
Family Dynamics (Counselling) – Experienced counsellors practise a strength-based, holistic approach and builds on your strengths and support systems. It provides a safe place for you to cope and heal through life’s changes. Fees take into account your income and family size.
Klinik Crisis Support – The Crisis Program includes crisis phone lines and online support services that offer free and confidential counselling. People of all ages, genders and backgrounds may use the hotlines.
Klinik In-person counselling – If you need face-to-face counselling, Klinik has drop-in and post trauma counselling. Families, couples and individuals may seek their services, no appointment necessary. Check online for location details.
Brandon and Area Suicide Bereavement Support Group (Klinik) – The support group is made up of people who have lost a family member or friend to suicide. It is a safe place to ask questions, share stories, and receive encouragement. Call ahead to join or for more information (phone numbers of the web page).
Taking Steps: Bereavement Support Group (Youville) – This is an 8-week bereavement support group for adults.
Telephone Bereavement Program (Palliative Manitoba) – this is one-on-one telephone support done by trained bereavement volunteers. It offers a safe, anonymous environment for grieving individuals.
Grief Seminars (Palliative Manitoba) – These are monthly grief seminars where experts speak on relevant topics associated with grief. Staff and bereavement volunteers are on hand for support. The event is free and open to the public.
Monthly Bereavement Message (Palliative Manitoba) – These are email or mail messages that offer information and support to grieving individuals. Contact (204) 889-8525.

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