When a loved one dies unexpectedly, you feel overwhelmed by shock and grief.
You know there are many things you need to care of, but you can't
keep track of all of them, especially with the emotional toll of losing
your family member.
Here is a simple timeline to help you with all the details.
Immediately After the Death
After you've said your goodbyes to your loved one, there are a few
tasks you should do as soon as possible.
Spread the Word
Of course, you'll want to let immediate family members know about the
death as soon as possible. But remember to let the following people know as well:
- 911, if your loved one died outside a hospital or nursing home
- Your loved one's doctors
- The county coroner
- The executor of your loved one's estate
- Your loved one's religious leaders
- Your loved one's insurance company
- Your loved one's employer
- The Social Security office
After you've contacted these people, you'll also want to let others
know, such as your loved one's landlord, banks, credit cards, and
Don't feel like you have to handle all of these phone calls alone.
Divide these phone calls among your other family members if possible.
Collect Information for the Death Certificate
You'll need a death certificate to move forward with the funeral and
take care of any legal issues. Your funeral director can help you obtain
the certificate, but you'll need the following information about your
- Time and date of death (as declared by a medical professional)
- Social Security number
- Birthday and birth place
- Parents' full names
- Occupation and workplace
- Insurance policies
- Military discharge information (if applicable)
Once you have this information, you're ready to start planning the
Within the First Two Days
Due to health codes, your loved one's body must be taken care of within
about 48 hours. Thus, you need to do the following as soon as possible.
Choose a Funeral Director
The funeral director will prepare your loved one's body and help you
organize all the details for your loved one's funeral, so it's
important to find one you can trust. You might wish to call several different
funeral homes before you decide. Choose a funeral director who respects
your religious traditions. Your family members and friends might know
someone they can recommend.
Make a Burial Decision
Your funeral director will ask you how you prefer to bury your loved one.
Hopefully, your loved one left a will to let you know what his or her
preferences. If not, you and your family members can decide between the
- Burial. The body is placed in a casket and buried in a cemetery plot.
- Cremation. The body's ashes can be scattered or placed in an urn.
- Entombment. The body is housed above ground in a tomb or mausoleum.
No matter which option you choose, there are costs involved. If you choose
burial, for example, you need to purchase a cemetery plot, casket, vault,
and grave marker. The options at funeral homes are often high in price.
Fortunately, you can find more affordable options when you order from
a casket company.
Before the Funeral
As you work with the funeral director, you'll need to make some important
decisions. Besides the date, time, and location, funeral decisions include
who will speak, who will play music, and who will serve as pallbearers.
You may also need to set details about the burial or any other remembrance
events. You'll also need to
write an obituary. Your funeral director can help you make these decisions.
A family member's death can make you feel overwhelmed. Gain some sense
of control by following this timeline.