PART 1: When someone dies at Christmas time.

There is an increased risk for heart attacks during the holiday season.

It’s no surprise that there’s death during the holidays. People die all year round but when they die during the holidays what happens can be a surprise if you’re not prepared.

Margaret Rice’s father died in Australia three days before Christmas and right before several public holidays. And Margaret reports that things weren’t as straightforward as they would have been if he had died at another time of year.

Things were tricky.

Margaret’s family were faced with making arrangements around the many public holidays — Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, when normal operations totally shut down.

Because people still die during the holiday period, but burial services don’t occur on public holidays, this created high demand on the days that were available.

In fact, Margaret’s father, who died on the 22nd of December, wasn’t able to be buried until January 5. The two weeks marked a significant point. If he hadn’t been buried by January 5, the funeral directors said a requirement would come into effect, that his remains be embalmed, an idea her father would not have liked.

Thankfully this was a step that Margaret’s family was able to avoid.

And because of the time of year, the priest who was to bury her father was heading away for a well-earned holiday on the day following the funeral.

Ken Rice with his daughter Margaret Rice before his death.
Beloved father Ken Rice with his daughter Margaret Rice before his death.

What steps do you take when someone dies?

There are some helpful guides on steps to take, what you need to do and who you need to tell.

Visit Services Australia‘s list of what to do when a loved one dies. And some states have there own helpful tools like Victoria’s ‘What to do after someone dies’ guide.

There’s also this amazing Seniors Australia e-book ’24 hours after someone dies’.

And there’s another Services Australia guide on ‘Who to tell’.

If you’d like to read more about Margaret’s father grab a cuppa and dive into her tribute for Kenneth Parnell Rice.

And for someone else’s story on dealing with death during the holiday period is this piece from The Guardian from a father who lost his daughter on Christmas Day.

When someone dies at Christmas time is Part 1 of the two part series titled ‘Unfortunately, death does not take a holiday.’

Read Part 2: Contacting services during the holidays when someone dies here.

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