You want to spend as much time as possible with your loved one when they are facing the end of their life. When death occurs, you will have important decisions to make, and you will need to make these decisions rather quickly. When you and your loved one discuss after-death options, you will know the steps to take. By preparing yourself, you are able to concentrate on your emotional health and the support of your friends and family. Use this checklist as a way to keep an emotional event from becoming more stressful and painful than it needs to be.


What to Do After a Death

When a loved one dies there are a number of steps that must be taken. First, you will need a legal pronouncement of the death. In the event that no physician is present, you will need to contact someone with the legal right to make the declaration. If your loved one has died in a facility, contact a nurse or attendant on duty; these people are adept at handling these situations and can walk you through the proper steps. 

If your loved one dies at home without any type of hospice care or service, call 911. When the paramedics respond they will begin resuscitation procedures unless you have a legal document in hand stating your loved one’s wishes to not be resuscitated. Your loved one will be transported to the hospital’s emergency room where a doctor will pronounce death. Gather your loved one’s medications and, if your loved one has several care providers, write down their names; the paramedics or emergency room personnel may ask for these things.

Once you feel you are able, contact friends and close family members. It will be helpful to ask the people you contact to contact others so you don’t have the responsibility of dozens of phone calls. If your loved one has pets or dependents, arrange for their care. Do not forget to notify your loved one’s employer, and ask about any benefits or life insurance policies.

Funeral Arrangements

Whether planning in advance or making arrangements when the time comes, it is important to be aware of your options for all arrangement possibilities. Click to learn more about arranging a funeral and/or burial for your loved one and how to select the best funeral products.

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Legal and Financial

When a loved one dies, it’s hard enough to deal with the emotional trauma we experience. Unfortunately, there are many legal and financial matters that need to be dealt with. Click to learn more about the three main steps to follow after the death of a loved one.

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A memorialization is simply sharing and preserving the memory of a loved one. It's a way to commemorate someone we've lost. Click to learn more about how a memorial product or memorial tribute can be used to pay tribute to a departed friend or family member.

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Registering the Death and Working with a Funeral Home

When your loved one has passed away, you’ll need to contact the funeral home. If your loved one was in hospice, a hospice worker may do this for you. In either case, you’ll need to begin to make arrangements for burial or cremation. If your loved one has prepaid for a burial plot, many of the arrangements will already have been made.

When you begin to work with the funeral home, you will have decisions to make. You may need to pick out a casket or urn, decide on the type of service you would like, including any viewings, and you will want to either write the obituary yourself or have the funeral director do it for you. 

If your loved one lived in more than one city over his or her lifetime, you may choose to place the obituary in each city’s local newspaper. This will allow any friends that your loved one has made in these cities to read about the death and save you from making multiple phone calls.

You may want to host a reception after the funeral and burial. You can host this in your home, in a family member’s home, or even in a hall. It’s a good idea to have this reception catered so you don’t have to spend time cooking. You may also choose to have a friend or family member charged with planning the reception to take the responsibility off of your shoulders.


Working with Lawyers to Handle Wills and Estates

A lawyer can help you handle the will and estate of your loved one. You will want to obtain several copies of the death certificate from the funeral home. These certificates will be necessary for various institutions and agencies. Your loved one’s will needs to be accepted for probate, another task that a lawyer can handle for you.

Your attorney will walk you through the steps of handling the estate and will often perform many of the tasks for you. Even though you may not be handling all of the finer points, it’s important that you know what needs to be done so you can be sure that the lawyer is working for you properly.

If your loved one had an estate, a bank account will need to be opened. Contact:

  • Your loved one’s bank to inquire about any accounts or safe deposit boxes
  • The Social Security office or any other pertinent governmental agencies
  • Insurance agents
  • Utility companies
  • Pension servicers
  • Tax preparer

Again, your attorney will help walk you through these steps to make sure that your loved one’s will and estate are handled properly.


Paying Tribute with Memorials

During viewings, funerals, and receptions, many families choose to pay tribute to their loved one with memorials. This is something that you can do on your own, or can be arranged with the funeral director. Some ideas for tributes are:

Collect photographs or videos and put them together in a unique online memorial tribute to your loved one. Showcase his or her life in a positive way for every attendee to enjoy. A beautiful tribute to your loved one will help the healing process begin for every person left behind. Keep in mind that you don’t have to create this on your own. This is a wonderful project for a group of family members who can sit together and share special memories.

When a loved one dies, the small details may seem overwhelming. Although death is never an enjoyable thing to discuss, when you know your loved one’s wishes beforehand, many of the details can be dealt with before end of life occurs. Use this article as a guide to help you through the process of after-death care. When you know what you need to take care of and who can help you, a sad event in your life isn’t as stressful as it could be.

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