The passing of a loved one is a difficult time. You have to navigate your grieving process while working to ensure everything is in order for your family member or friend’s end-of-life plans. It’s a lot for one person to handle, so you need to ensure that you have a support system ready to help you. Knowing what you’ll face in the coming days and weeks can help you prepare yourself — both mentally and physically. Half the battle is won when you know what you’re up against.
1. Don’t Dwell on Regrets
No matter how your loved one passed, you might feel guilty that you survived while they are gone. Regrets of not spending enough time with them could cross your mind, but you need to realize that guilt is a common factor of grief and doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong while your loved one was alive.
At the very least, you should choose to push aside your regrets because you have so much to handle right now. You don’t have time to worry about the past — you have a lot to do to make sure the memory of your loved one is preserved in the way they wanted it to be.
2. Let People Know
Once you have processed a bit of the grief, you need to inform people of your loved one’s passing. Everyone your loved one was in contact with before their passing needs to be notified. You should also get a legal pronouncement of death from a medical professional if you haven’t already. Without this official declaration, you can’t start working on their legal affairs.
After the pronouncement of death, you can notify your friend or family member’s loved ones. Reaching out to people on social media might be the easiest way to contact some people. If your loved one was employed at the time of their passing, it may also be up to you to inform their employer.
3. Make End of Life Arrangements
This step is when you should find out whether your loved one already made funeral arrangements. Some people want a service, while others might want cremation and no service. If your loved one left no plans, it’s up to you to determine what they would have wanted. Funeral costs can generally be taken out of the estate or life insurance, but sometimes, the expenses fall on the next of kin.
If you find that the end-of-life process your loved one wants is too pricey, reach out to certain organizations to see if they can help. For example, if your loved one was a veteran, you can always reach out to the Veterans Administration or a local branch to see if they can cover some of the funds.
4. Take Care of the Home and Pets
Pets mourn, too. If your loved one had any pets, you need to get them taken care of and make sure they have a proper destination — ideally with a loved one who knows them. While you’re caring for your deceased loved one’s pets, watch out for any signs of grief such as changes in eating and sleeping habits, as it means that they may be struggling through the loss.
You can help pets navigate the loss of their owner just as you work through the loss of your loved one. Visiting a new place and doing things together can help ease their sadness and may make you revisit happy memories, too.
Then, you’ll want to secure the home. Make sure that you have the home locked up tightly — same with any vehicles they may own. You don’t want anyone breaking in upon hearing the news. You’ll also want to lock away your loved one’s valuables until it comes time to distribute them according to the will.
5. Execute the Will
A few weeks after your loved one passes, the will needs to be read. If you were not named the executor, you need to find and contact the person who is so they can preside over what happens next. If there is no will or an executor wasn’t named, it’ll likely go to the court for the judge to appoint an administrator to oversee all the distributions of assets and what happens next.
6. You’ll Have a Lot of Paperwork
You’ll have to deal with a lot of paperwork from beginning to end of this process. From the start of the process, you need to work on tracking down and making a list of all your loved one’s assets. These assets need to be filed in court. A lawyer can help you distribute assets so you can put the majority of your focus toward healing rather than understanding the complicated systems.
Next, you’ll have to reroute your loved one’s mail. If you want to reroute it to your residence for the time being and every family member is okay with that, then you can do it. You’ll then have to deal with their outstanding bills and other utilities. After that, find everything that your loved one subscribed to and cancel those recurring payments.
It might be helpful to collect a list of your loved one’s account usernames and passwords. Knowing which accounts you’ll need to lock down or close down can help you before you reach this step. Don’t forget to freeze your loved one’s credit report and close any credit cards that were opened in their name.
7. Don’t Do It Alone
You can’t do everything alone. If the person who passed was your parent, you may have siblings who can help shoulder some of your burdens. Even if you’re an only child or don’t have anyone else related to your loved one, you can still find support in people who are not involved in the situation.
Your partner and friends exist to help you get through all times, good and bad. The people who love you are there to help with chores big and small — make sure not to push them away during this trying time.
Don’t Take Help for Granted
Losing a loved one is never easy, especially if they were close to you. Dealing with the responsibilities after a loved one passes is never easy and can take so much out of you, so make sure to look after yourself during this time, too. Reach out for help if and when you need it. You’re not alone in this situation, and you never will be.
Photo by Tanya Kashtanova