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Coping with the loss of a partner or family member can be one of the hardest challenges people face. Despite it being a natural part of life you can still be overcome by having to say goodbye.
Everyone reacts differently to the death of a loved one. The most common reaction is shocking, which can affect you for a few days or a number of weeks. When you’re experiencing shock, you might feel nauseous and dizzy or dazed and confused.
You might also find yourself reacting somewhat strangely, by laughing or not feeling anything at all. When the shock wears off, the grieving process begins. Symptoms of grief may present:
- Physically – Tiredness, headaches, aches, and pains
- Emotionally – Sadness, anger, disbelief, loneliness, guilt
- Behaviourally – Restless or lack of sleep, loss of appetite, isolation
- Mentally – Forgetfulness, lack of concentration, confusion
- Spiritually – increased or decreased connections to faith
What makes grief harder when experiencing the loss of a loved one is that you may need to manage the logistics of your loss. This might mean planning a funeral or memorial ceremony.
Managing the death of a loved one
When someone dies in your family you may find yourself with bureaucratic tasks such as handling bills, dealing with a funeral home, and navigating bank accounts. There’s also the matter of the life insurance payout which can take a long time to receive.
All of this can be difficult to manage. You’re grieving and the last thing you want to think about is paperwork.
There will never be a “right time” to manage the logistics of death, but keeping the tasks under control will help prevent problems in the future.
Declaring the death
When someone dies at home, a doctor or medical professional will need to pronounce them dead. The first step is to call an ambulance for transport to an emergency room. The deceased will then be declared dead and moved to a funeral home.
If someone dies in a nursing home or the hospital, the staff on hand will provide that service.
Notifying the funeral home
The need to contact a funeral home starts almost straight away so that the body can be moved away from the place of death and to the funeral home, awaiting further arrangements.
These arrangements can be done after a doctor has attended and completed the necessary paperwork.
Informing friends and family
Calls to close friends, family, and employers should be made as early as possible so that you can start to make arrangements for a funeral, memorial, or service. If you don’t want to make these calls yourself, assign the task to someone you trust.
Hearing about the death of a person you care about on the phone is better than reading about death in a newspaper.
Planning a funeral
Planning a funeral involves two functions. Firstly, the process includes what to do with your loved one’s physical remains, and secondly, what is the best way to honor their life. These two functions require some big decision making.
Before making any plans, it’s important to determine if the deceased had a funeral plan.
This could be an informal funeral plan in which they’ve noted what they would like done with their remains and what songs or kind of service they would like, but it can also be a prepaid arrangement in which everything is contracted and paid for in advance. These arrangements might include:
- Choice of a funeral director.
- Burial fees or cremation costs.
- A death certificate.
- A newspaper notice.
If they didn’t have a funeral plan in place, check to see if they had funeral insurance or personal injury protection coverage. Funeral insurance provides a lump sum benefit payout to cover any immediate expenses, which might include:
- A funeral service.
- Bills or expenses left behind.
- Immediate mortgage or loan repayments.
Having checked prior arrangements you can then start the step-by-step approach to arranging a funeral. You can also see if you meet the criteria for a Funeral Grant, which can provide a payment of up to $2,000.
Executing deceased affairs
Following the funeral, the deceased’s affairs must be put in order. If you are the deceased person’s representative, you will have a number of responsibilities.
If you’re working, ask your employer about bereavement leave to help give you the time to get things done.
Take your time
The process of managing everything from a will to online accounts can be slow. Take your time and make sure you have breaks from logistics when you need to. It’s important not to let necessary tasks get on top of you but it’s also crucial that you take care of your own health.
If you feel the pressure is building up, talk to someone you trust. If you can’t talk to friends and family, speak to a GP or a counselor. They’ll be able to help you on your journey through the grieving process, so remember you don’t have to cope with it alone.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on February 14, 2021:
Liz Westwood from UK on February 14, 2021:
This is a helpful and practical guide for anyone who finds themselves in this sad situation. It is especially relevant in the midst of a pandemic.