You’ve Lost A Loved One ─ WHAT NOW?

Many times when loved ones pass away, caretakers are left wondering what to do next. While the grief of losing a friend or family member is tremendous on its own, navigating through the process that will follow is an additional burden that most of us haven’t often faced. Here’s what you need to know if you find yourself in this situation.

If your loved one is not being cared for in a professional setting, such as a hospital or hospice care, the first step is to notify authorities. While the staff in a professional setting would typically handle this, if you find yourself in the situation where a loved one passes away at home, or in the absence of professional care, calling 911 should be your first step. This will summon the proper authorities to your location for help, which will include legally pronouncing death, if appropriate. The documentation that results is necessary to facilitate managing the funeral plans and executing the estate.

After the authorities are notified, contact a funeral home to take your loved one into their care. A funeral director will help guide you through the process of planning your loved one’s funeral. Your loved one’s funeral ceremony will honor and celebrate their life and the wonderful memories they left behind.

Once the funeral home has been contacted, it’s time to notify friends and family of the recent occurrence. It is suggested to alert the decedent’s closest friends and family first, selecting one, or a few, of them to help share the news. Close friends and family often look for ways to help during this process, so assigning them to make extended notifications is one way to relieve some of the burden from the main caretaker.      

Now that friends and family members have been made aware, your attention can shift to making arrangements for care that may be needed for pets, children, or elderly parents. This is a task for a close friend or family member that you trust and that can make the time to commit to this task.

Another consideration that can be made at this point is to notify the loved one’s employer, if needed, and seek information about remaining pay, life insurance, and other benefits.

Alongside notifying any employer, it’s crucial to locate a will. Your loved one’s will could provide helpful details about any funeral pre-planning they may have already made. These pre-made plans serve as incredible help when searching for next steps; however, not everyone takes the time to pre-plan their funeral, leaving the next-of-kin to decide on arrangements.


Michael Higgins is Sales Manager for Dignity Memorial®, which cares for more than 300,000 families each year through its network of more than 2,000 providers throughout North America. Learn more at www.dignitymemorial.com or call Greenlawn Memorial Park, Oleander Memorial Gardens and Coble Funeral and Cremation Services at Greenlawn Memorial Park, (910) 799-1686.

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