Our Reference Guide

Advance Healthcare Directive

It is often difficult for individuals to think about the care and treatment they want in the event they are incapable of making their own health care decisions. Preparing in advance for the unexpected gives you peace-of-mind.

We advise you to take the time to complete an AHCD. This important document gives you the opportunity to appoint an agent, giving this person the power to make decisions on your healthcare treatment decisions and instructions on your behalf, as well as direct the disposition of your remains, whether you choose cremation or burial.

As a service to all who live in Southern California, we’ve included a PDF of an Advance Health Care Directive on our website. You can download it here.

Why Should I Complete the AHCD?

This important document lets your physician, family and friends know your health care preferences, including the types of special treatment you want (or don’t want) at the end of life, including diagnostic testing, any surgical procedures, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and organ donation. When you choose cremation or burial, this directive gives your agent the power to fulfill your exact wishes.

By choosing to review your options early, you can avoid having your family "guess" your wishes, or make critical medical care decisions for you while they are under emotional stress.

Our AHCD Checklist

This checklist is intended as informational only and not as legal advice. If you are unsure of your options or have questions, we suggest that you talk with your physician, your lawyer and other trusted advisors.

Gather all the information you need for making these decisions. You may wish to start with your family physician, a key person to help you to understand your personal medical options on health care treatment at the end of life.

Discuss your end-of-life options with your ‘inner circle.’Talk about your decisions with your family, physician and others who are close to you. Some questions to consider for discussion:

  • What is important to you when you are dying?
  • Are there specific medical treatments you especially want or do not want?
  • When you are dying, do you want to be in a nursing home, hospital or at home?
  • What are the options in palliative or hospice care?

Designate the person you wish to carry out your intentions. Select who should handle your health care choices and discuss the matter with them. You could name a spouse, relative or other agent.

Prepare your AHCD form. Under state law, you have a legal right to express your health care wishes and to have them considered in situations when you are unable to make these decisions yourself.

Notify others of your preferences. This list includes your doctor, family, close friends or clergy. Keep a copy of your signed and completed advance health care directive safe and accessible. Give a copy of your form to:

  • The person you appoint as your agent and any alternate designated agents
  • Your physician
  • Your health care providers
  • The health care institution that is providing your care
  • Family members
  • Other responsible person who is likely to be called if there is a medical emergency

But don’t neglect to keep a copy of your signed and completed advance health care directive safe and accessible – not in a safe deposit box.

A California AHCD form is available here. Don’t wait to take this important step in caring for yourself and those you love.

When a Death Occurs

When a death occurs, the order in which things need to be done often depends on where the death occurred. But, one thing should always be remembered: your heightened emotional state upon the death of a loved one. That’s why we suggest that you ask a friend for help – someone who is more able to think clearly, and give you the support you need.

At Home or at Work

When a death occurs at home or in the workplace, a family member or co-worker should contact emergency personnel and the person’s physician if he or she was under a doctor’s care. If the death occurs at home with family or friends present, and the person is under a physician’s care, the family will want to call us directly.

However, if the death occurs in a residence and no one is there at the time of death, the police will need to be notified and respond to the residence before the deceased is removed from their home.

If in any case you are not sure of who to notify or what to do, you may call O’Connor Mortuary, and we’ll assist you in notifying the proper agencies.

While Under Supervised Care

When a death occurs in a care facility, such as a hospital or nursing home, the professional staff will notify you and the necessary authorities. If the name of the funeral home has been left with them, the institution will notify the funeral home at the time of the death. The funeral director will contact you immediately following their notification to help you proceed. (However, we suggest you contact the funeral home immediately, so you’ve got the reassurance you need that all is taken care of properly.)

If a loved one was in the care of a hospice program, a hospice representative will give family members instructions and procedures to follow. The coroner/medical examiner will be notified by hospice. Following their release the hospice will contact the funeral home. It is always a good idea for the family to contact us immediately so that we will be aware of the pending call from hospice.

Widening the Circle

Our staff members are experienced professionals who can provide much of the information you need, emotional support and compassionate guidance.

While you may ask the director any questions at this time, you will be able to discuss the arrangements in detail later when you meet in person. During this initial call, the funeral director will gather information to be able to bring your loved one to the funeral home.

The funeral director may ask you several questions, including whether your loved one made any pre-arrangements. The director will also schedule a date and time for you to meet at the funeral home and will let you know what you should bring with you. Others you will need to call are:

  • Family members and friends
  • Clergy or other spiritual advisors

Those Important Questions

If there is no pre-plan in place, there are several other questions that you may have to have answered in regards to the death of your loved one:

  • Do I have to have embalming?
  • Do I need to purchase a casket?
  • What about cemetery arrangements?
  • Does the family have to engage the services of a minister?
  • What type of service should we have?

By contacting our staff, we’ll be able to help answer your questions and assist in making the appropriate plans. You can reach us at (877) 872-2736.

However, as we’ve said before, one of the best ways to make sure that all of your questions and desires are taken care of is to make pre-arrangements. This is as simple as outlining your wishes to having all of the details written down and the financial arrangements prepaid. Please contact one of our staff at (877) 872-2736 to learn more about pre-arrangement.

What to Expect When You Arrive at the Funeral Home

One of the first things the funeral arranger will do is to provide you with our general price list. He or she will then guide you through the entire arrangement process, explaining how you can create a memorable personal celebration of your loved one’s life. This is not a one-way conversation; we want to hear your ideas and desires, and use them as the foundation for the arrangement process.

Our arranger will assist you with:

  • Preparing and filing the official death certificate
  • Scheduling the location, date and time of services or events
  • Selecting a casket, urn or other items
  • Preparing an obituary notice
  • Scheduling vehicles
  • Selecting pallbearers

You may also sign necessary authorizations or make arrangements to have them signed by the appropriate family members.

We’d like you to bring any photos, a favorite song, or memorabilia so that you and your funeral arranger can better discuss how you would like your loved one to be remembered. Having these things, and knowing their favorite song or favorite gathering place – even their favorite activity – will help us create a truly fitting memorial service.

Our funeral arrangers will assist you in planning a loving tribute that captures the spirit of the person whose life you wish to honor. To learn more about personalizing the service, please read the Honoring Life section of this Web site. The funeral arranger will discuss personalization with you during your arrangement conference.

The following checklist will help you remember what information about the decedent and items will be needed when meeting with a funeral arranger.

  • Full legal name
  • Home address
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Father’s name
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Veteran’s discharge papers (DD-214)
  • Recent Photograph
  • Highest education
  • Occupation
  • Place of burial (if applicable)
  • Clothing
  • Clergy name and phone number
  • Survivors (name and relationship)
  • Insurance policies (if applicable)

A staff member of O’Connor Mortuary will be honored to explain all of the options available to you.

How To Write an Obituary

We recommend that our families prepare their obituary and submit it to us for publication via email. Below are some examples to help you.


An obituary notice can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. It can include everything we have listed below, as well as an overview of your loved ones life, their passions and accomplishments. While there are costs involved in publishing an obituary, we can help you with newspapers locally, nationally, and internationally. Or, you can utilize our On-Line Obituary page which is at no cost to the families we serve. There you will have unlimited verbiage space, can upload any photos or videos, as well as driving directions for services. With our On-Line Obituary page you will also have the opportunity to order flowers or gifts.

  • An obituary is a tribute to your loved one’s life and is an opportunity to share a loved one’s memory with family, friends, and the community. The anecdotes you share will provide family and friends with a keepsake of memories.
  • Also, an obituary serves an announcement of your loved one’s death to their professional and military communities, clubs, and charity organizations.
  • Obituaries also provide your family and friends with the information they need to pay their respects, such as the location of services and/or where to send sympathy gifts, flowers, or donations.

The contents of an obituary will vary depending on length. They include some or all of the following:

  • Announcement of Death
    • Your loved one’s full name and nicknames if any
    • Age at Death
    • City of residence
    • Date and place of death
    • Cause of death (optional)
  • Details of Life and Personality– When gathering this information, include your loved ones passions and accomplishments.
  • Date and place of birth (optional)
  • Names of parents
  • Schools, friends, siblings
  • Education – High school, college, vocational
  • Military Service
  • Marriage or significant other
  • Children
  • Profession
  • Awards and recognition
  • Places of residency
  • Hobbies, sports, interests, recreation, activities enjoyed, affiliatons and organizations
  • Survivors Listed by Kinship –You may also want to list family members who are pre-deceased, (optional).
  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Pets if appropriate
  • Services
    • Date, time and place of service
    • Visitation information if applicable
    • Reception information
    • Name of Mortuary and phone number
  • Closing
    • Where to send flowers, sympathy cards, and donations
    • Short quotation, poem, or lyric that represents your loved one’s personality or beliefs
    • A photograph of your loved one (additional fee, please ask for quote)
    • If the death was a long process, consider thanking individuals, groups, neighbors, or institutions who helped at time of death. Also, remember those who helped during their life such as great teachers or friends. A simple thank you card to these people is also always appreciated.


  • Raymond Francis Smith, 74, of Pine View, Oregon, beloved father, husband, grandfather, brother, died on July 28, 2007. Ray died suddenly at home after a heart attack. He was born on January 27, 1934 in Crystal, Idaho to Mary Batter and William Smith.Ray grew up in Crystal, Idaho and graduated from Shadow Valley High School in 1952, where he excelled in all sports. He had a distinguished and enjoyable career with Pine View Builders where he worked as a contractor 1955 – 1975. Ray was a member of the Elks Lodge for 35 years. He was also a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician for the Pine View Fire Department for 25 years. He enjoyed traveling with his wife Christine in their motor home, spending time with family and friends, and collecting rare coins.Ray is survived by his wife Christine Smith, son Robert Smith,sister Nora Blyth,, grand-daughter Kayleen Smith and many other friends and family. Ray built his life around his family and friends and his deep love, strength and integrity will greatly be missed.A "Celebration of Life" will be held at Pine View Memorial, 1273 Dew Rock Drive in Pine View Oregon on August 5, 2007, 11:30 am. Flowers are appreciated and should be sent to Pine View Memorial.
  • Mary Jade Pilsner, Keystone, Arizona resident, age 59, passed away Wednesday, November 6, 2007, after an incredibly courageous battle with ovarian cancer. She is survived by her husband of 33 years, Neil; her son John; daughter Kim; grandson Joeyand brother Bill.Mary was a devoted wife, mother, and friend whose greatest pleasure was spending time with those she loved. She enjoyed gardening, tennis, and had a natural talent in golf. Mary spent her childhood and young adult life in Reno, Nevada, before moving to Keystone, AZ. In Reno, she attended University of Nevada with a Bachelor Degree in Social Services. She enjoyed her career of helping people, especially children. Everyone who knew her, loved her.The family would like to thank Dr. Sandra Owens for the extraordinary care given to Mary, and Father Robert Samson for his years of spiritual guidance.Services will be held at St. Josephs Catholic Church, 131 Hilary Drive, in Keystone on Wednesday, November 13, 2007 at 10:30 am. A private family burial will be held at Fernwood Cemetery at a later date. Floral donations can be sent to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Monetary donations can be sent to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (www.ovariancancer.org) or your favorite charity.I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains. ~Anne Frank

Things to Consider when Printing an Obituary in a Newspaper

  • We recommend never listing the address of a private home in the newspaper
  • If costs are a concern, our families have the option of submitting a brief obituary notice in the newspaper that will direct readers to our online website where a complete obituary and photographs are posted.
  • Time the obituary to run a few days before services . Know the publication’s daily deadline so you know the obituary will run when you want it too.
  • Read some of the other obituaries printed by your selected publication to get an idea of what their obituaries generally read like. This will prevent the publication from making their own revisions to your loved one’s obituary.
  • Request a final proof from the publication to be confirmed before printing.
  • Always proof read for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Also, have a friend or family member proof the obituary to limit the chance of errors.
  • Consider submitting the obituary to other publications where your loved may have lived previously.

If you find yourself struggling with writing a love one’s obituary, please feel free to call us (877) 872-2736.