When a loved one dies, the to-do list of tasks and notifications can feel daunting, especially when you’re also facing what feels like a mountain of grief. Over the next few weeks, we will offer guidance for the steps to be taken in the initial days, weeks, and months after experiencing a loss. Hopefully these checklists will make the logistical challenges a little bit easier. 

We’ll start with the immediate needs. 

1. Notify others. 

This may include close friends and family members who need to be notified and who will also be able to create a system of support for you during this difficult time. You do not need to shoulder all of the burdens alone. 

Eventually, these notifications will also include employers, church or social groups, and other contacts found in email and phone lists. You might also consider a social media post sharing the news of your loved one’s passing. 

2. Take care of immediate needs. 

If your loved one didn’t die in a hospital or under the care of hospice, you may need a legal pronouncement of death. If your loved one died at home, you may need assistance with the removal and preparation of their body. Contact your loved one’s doctor, a local funeral home, or the coroner to help with these steps. You may need to also determine whether or not your loved one was an organ donor. This information can be found on a driver’s license, in a living will, or in a healthcare directive. 

3. Honor end-of-life wishes. 

Hopefully you will have access to your loved one’s plans for funeral and burial/cremation. Oftentimes this information will be found with paperwork including the will. If your loved one communicated, or left documents communicating, their end of life wishes, locate them to utilize. This could include a health care directive, a funeral/burial plan or even a prepaid burial/funeral plan. If you can’t find this information, you will need to meet with other family members to make the most appropriate plans.  

4. Secure personal property and valuables.  

A person’s passing could be an invitation for theft, especially after obituaries are published and addresses can often be easily obtained. To avoid this, make sure valuables are secured, including vehicles and homes. You’ll also want to check for any perishables. Does food need to be cleaned out of the fridge? Are there plants to be watered? And don’t forget to make temporary plans for any pets until more permanent decisions can be made. 

5. Create time and space for grief. 

The immediate weeks following the death of a loved one are oftentimes full of difficult decisions and planning. In the midst of making calls and taking care of details, create time and space to mourn your loss. That means you’ll want to make sure your own support network is in place and you are scheduling some time for self-care, too, even if it’s something as simple as a slow walk around the block, a short guided meditation, or an earlier-than-usual bedtime. The list of tasks will be there when you get back.  

Engaging professionals, such as an attorney at Schromen Law, LLC, can also help to lighten the load of these practical tasks. Feel free to reach out to us at 651-571-2515 if you have questions about any of these steps after your loved one has passed. 

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Schromen Law, LLC and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.


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