Someone Has Died

When someone has died, we’re faced with two conflicting needs – handling the practical details and dealing with the emotional impact.

There are decisions about what to do with the body, planning for the funeral or memorial service, personal belongings to go through, bills to pay, the estate to be settled, and much more. Fortunately, once we take the first steps to work through these details, we may also begin to feel more emotionally balanced and in control.

Practical Details

  • Do your best to ensure that the body is handled according to the wishes of the deceased. If they didn’t express a preference about burial or cremation, then make the necessary decisions yourself or with other family members.
  • Connect with family, friends or clergy who can help organize the funeral or memorial service.
  • See that the bills are paid, and that the financial estate is distributed according to the wishes of the deceased and the laws of their state.

Emotional Support

    • Make it a priority to take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, especially if you’re not sleeping well at night. Take the time to eat regular, nourishing meals.
    • By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared to take care of the practical details and help meet the emotional needs of others.
    • Do whatever is needed to get emotional support for yourself and others, including professional counseling.
    • Make it a team effort. Be willing to ask for and accept help from others as you make decisions and handle the necessary arrangements.

      How to Help the Family

      If you’re not an immediate family member of the person who died, you can still play an important role in providing support.

        • First of all, show up. Don’t assume that your presence will be uncomfortable for the family. It may be enough just to sit with the family, or listen patiently as they express their feelings.
        • If you call and ask if they need help, you’ll most likely be told no. If you’re there, you can see the needs and offer to take care of them. The family is dealing with a multitude of details, and by being there, you will have the opportunity to step in and help.
        • Offer specific services, such as taking charge of contacting friends, running errands, or coordinating funeral details.
        • Make your favorite meal and bring it over. Fresh homemade food most likely will be greatly appreciated.

          Take Action

            • Get Quick Answers to your most pressing questions.
            • Use the Map Tool to record and document decisions.
            • Make Connections with family, friends and service providers who can help take care of details and offer emotional support.