What To Do When Someone You Love Dies
Stitzel Funeral Homes and Crematory, Inc.

What To Do When Someone You Love Dies

The overwhelming feelings of despair, disbelief, shock, and numbness caused by the passing of a loved one cannot be conveyed by mere words. Even when the death is expected, the pain that loss brings can still be devastating.  In truth, no one is completely prepared for the death of someone close to their heart.

During this difficult time, there are decisions to be made immediately, arrangements to be coordinated, and a lot of things to be considered for your loved one’s final farewell. We understand how this may feel overwhelming, especially with the grief you’re feeling over the loss. Please know that we are here to help and support you. 

On this page, we’ve put together helpful information to guide you through the process of what to do when someone you love dies.

Notify Proper Authorities

If your loved one passes away while under the care of a facility — such as a nursing home or a hospital — staff from the facility will contact you and notify appropriate authorities themselves.

If the death occurred in the workplace or at home, you will need to get in touch with his/her physician or emergency medical personnel, as the cause of death must be identified and indicated in legal documents.

In the event that no one was present at the time of death, you will need to contact the police before moving the deceased to another location.

Call the Funeral Home

Our caring funeral director can assist you with your funeral arrangements. We will collect information from you in order to facilitate the transfer of your loved one’s remains to our facility. You would also be asked if the deceased has made pre-arrangements and whether or not you’d like for him/her to be embalmed. While of course you can ask any questions you have in your mind during this call, note that once you visit the funeral home, we can discuss the arrangements in greater detail.

During this call, you’ll also be informed about the things that you need to bring with you like the clothes your deceased loved one will use for the burial. Feel free to call us whenever you feel the need to. Remember that we are here to listen to you, help you, and guide you during this difficult and trying time.

Meet the Funeral Director/Staff

On your first meeting with us, we will discuss the arrangements for your loved one’s burial. You will be shown a list of our packages/services so you can decide what suits your family’s preferences and budget. You will be asked whether you’d prefer burial or cremation arrangements and optionally you would select a casket, schedule a time and date for the services, decide on the location of the burial, draft an obituary notice, arrange for vehicle services, and select pallbearers.

We would also use this opportunity to inquire about your loved one for us to have a better understanding of the person the services will honor. It will be extremely helpful if you can bring some memorabilia — photos, videos, treasured items, letters — that would give us a clearer picture on how you envision paying tribute to your loved one.

All of these tasks may feel overwhelming if undertaken alone. It is important to enlist a trusted friend or a family member to help you cope with the responsibility and emotional pain of this process. Remember that we are here to guide you through this difficult time and to ensure that your loved one receives the honor and tribute he or she deserves.

After the Funeral... Now What?

In the weeks and months following a death, there is still a lot to do. Checklists like the one below can help get you started and keep you organized.

Thank you notes: make sure to thank all the friends who reached out to you to offer assistance during this time

Grief support

Contact an estate attorney, accountant, and probate court, if applicable. Just as a funeral director can help relieve the burden of planning your loved one’s memorialization and necessary paperwork, consulting an experienced professional for estate and financial matters can be a (great) source for valuable peace of mind.

Contact the Social Security Administration or any other programs that may have been making payments to the decedent. If the decedent was your spouse, inquire about your eligibility for new benefits.

Cancel any prescriptions and make sure all old prescriptions are disposed of properly. There are drop boxes for expired and unused prescription medications at the police department.

Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to cancel deceased’s drivers license and transfer titles of all registered vehicles.

If the deceased’s home is unoccupied, you may be responsible for any mortgage or rent payments, even if you’re waiting for probate. Contact the decedent’s mortgage company or landlord, and cancel any unnecessary services such as newspaper delivery, cable, etc.

Contact the deceased’s employer. Inquire about any 401 (k), pension, or company benefits that the decedent may be entitled to.

Notify the Registrar of Voters.

If your loved one was a veteran, inquire about benefits that you may be entitled to through the VA.

Notify the Registrar of Voters.

Notify all 3 credit reporting agencies and obtain a current copy of the deceased’s credit report.

If the death was accidental, verify whether benefits are available on existing insurance policies. Also check for any life insurance benefits available through existing credit card or loan accounts.

Here are some further links to checklists for what to do if the decedent is your parent or if you are the estate executor (or named administrator by the probate court):

An Executor’s Checklist by Gail Rubin: https://agoodgoodbye.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/AGG-Executor%E2%80%99s-Checklist.pdf

What to do when a parent dies, from Capital One: https://www.capitalone.com/bank/money-management/death/what-to-do-when-parent-dies/

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