What to do when someone dies

When someone dies, the outcome can be devastating for whoever is left in charge. Handling a death can often be very confusing and quite emotional. Learn what you need to do and say after someone close has died.
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What To Do When Someone Dies

What To Do When Someone Dies?  

When a family member, relative, or close friend passes away it’s physically overwhelming, emotionally devastating, and mentally tiring.

…Want to know what’s even more worrisome?

It’s the idea that despite our bereavement, there are often things to do after they have passed. 

These actions are often hard to deal with but knowing what to do can somehow minimize the stress for you and everyone else.

Don’t worry. 

We’ve got you covered. 

What to Do When Parent Dies? 

Here are some basic tips for navigating the sudden loss of a parent

  1. Lean on Your Support System. Who are the siblings that are really struggling after the death of their parent? Who is handling it better than others? Try your best to put aside your hangups and ask for help when you’re at your limit (or even before). Receive all the help that is offered to you and don’t be too hard on yourself.
  2. Mourn with Others. Your parent is also a friend, co-worker, neighbor, classmate, or someone else in someone’s life. Let these individuals talk to you, tell you about your parents, cry with you, bring food, or offer you money if it’s needed. These acts of kindness can be both uplifting for you and for them.
  3. It takes time. It’s not uncommon to realize just how important your parent was until they’re gone—this goes without saying. The passing of someone is undoubtedly saddening. You never get over the loss of a parent. However, as time passes, the intensity of feelings about the loss will lessen in time.

Checklist after Death of A Parent

Right After Death 

  1. Contact immediate family
  2. In accordance to the wishes of the deceased, arrange for organ donation (as soon as possible) and follow body bequeathal instructions
  3. Inform parent’s employer, extended family, and friends about the deceased’s death
  4. Secure the deceased’s properties 

Before Funeral

  • Arrange funeral and burial preparations, as well as post-funeral gathering
  • Contact the social security and life insurance company for funeral and burial assistance
  • Spread the word about the service and enlist help for the funeral and burial. This can often be done quickly and easily using social media that family and friends can share.
  • Prepare for headstone and obituary (optional)

After Funeral

  • Obtain copies of the death certificate
  • Contact Social Security, medicare, and the recent company of the deceased for employment benefits
  • Cancel the deceased’s voter registration, driver’s license, and other memberships to prevent identity theft
  • Terminate other insurance policies (e.g. disability and health insurance)
  • Contact the deceased’s bank and cancel credit cards
  • Send thank-you notes to those who mourn together with you
  • Take time for yourself and rest well 

What to Do When A Loved one Dies?

As the direct family member or friend, you have to obtain a death certificate. In most states, it can be taken by anyone, regardless of the requester’s relationship to the deceased.

However, in some jurisdictions, the only people who can get copies of the deceased death certificate are the surviving spouse, children, parents, and a legal representative. 

Then, if the deceased had a life insurance policy, call the life insurance policy company.

You have to contact the beneficiary of the policy holder so he/she can start processing the death certificate submission, release you the policy payout information, and allocate finances for the funeral and burial expenses

Also, notify the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you made funeral arrangements with a funeral home, the funeral staff will usually contact the local SSA branch for you.

Otherwise, you need to notify the SSA on your own. This isn’t mandatory, though. But if you’re the surviving spouse, beneficiary or dependent, contacting the SSA is the only way to be eligible in acquiring the security benefits left by the deceased. 

More importantly, enlist the important bills, such as mortgage payments, of your loved ones. Submit the list to the estate executor so that bills can be paid right away. 

Important: You will not inherit your loved one’s debts. You don’t have to think about the best option that you could use in paying off your loved one’s remaining debts. When your loved one will pass away, his/ her estate is responsible for settling his/her debts. 

If the amount in the estate is not sufficient enough to pay off the debts, then the debts will be wiped out. 

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What to Say When Someone Dies?

Here are the Top 10 things you can say to someone who has lost someone:

  1. I’m so sorry (short is sometimes best)
  2. I know how much you loved him/her.
  3. I wish I had the right words for you.
  4. I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I’m here if you need someone to listen.
  5. My sincerest condolences for your loss.
  6. I’ll never forget (the deceased’s name)
  7. I wish I had the right words right now, I’m so sorry for your loss.
  8. I’m just a phone call away, just know I care.
  9. My favorite memory of (deceased’s name) is…
  10. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Often times the bereaved family needs YOU. They need YOUR PRESENCE and a simple message such as “Please know that you’re not alone” can come across better than “our warmest condolences.”

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What to say when someone is busy and unavailable? You can support them by letting them know: “If you ever need any support or someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out” can already help a lot. If you’re currently far away, “I’m just a phone call away” will do. But the best are often the messages that tell them whatever you’re feeling right now. 

Sayings to Avoid When Someone Dies

Sometimes there are sayings that have good intentions, but can make someone feel worse. Avoid these sayings:

  1. It’s all part of God’s plan. This saying can make someone very upset and respond by asking, “How is this God’s plan?”

  2. Just look at everything you have to be thankful for. The timing of this comment is bad when someone has just lost a loved one.

  3. He’s in a better place now. Remember to keep your beliefs to yourself unless someone has asked. Sometimes the bereaved may not believe this, especially when the death just occurred.

  4. It’s time to get on with your life, because this is behind you now. Moving on from a terrible loss is easier said than done. Grief has a mind of its own and has its own timeline

  5. Avoid sayings that contain: “You will or You should.” Substitute those with: “You might try…” and “Have you thought about…”

How to Find Out if Someone Dies? 

How do you find out if someone has died, especially if it’s someone that isn’t an immediate family member?

  1. Bereaved families and relatives
  2. Government records
  3. Mutual friends
  4. Deceased’s neighbors
  5. Research on an online obituary
  6. Social Media
  7. Newspaper
  8. Historical or genealogy websites
  9. Local church’s website
  10. Your courthouse
  11. People finder search engine 

What to Do When Someone Dies Without a Will?

The deceased’s surviving spouse and children should initiate the work of closing out their estate. You have to file a petition in probate court if you want to start probate without a will by serving as the administrator. 

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Here’s a heads-up: The probate court is infamous for being complicated and expensive. It’s best to work with a professional lawyer. 

Who Do You Call When Someone Dies at Home?

Who should you call if someone dies at your home? Typically there are 2 options:

  1. Was your loved one served by Hospice care? If yes, call the hospice agency. Hospice will provide the appropriate person to help pronounce the death, help setting up funeral plans into motion, and will handle things from there.
  2. Was the death sudden and not under the care of hospice? You need to call 911. 
    • Did your loved one have an Out-of-Hospital DNR order? If yes, please have it available. It’s very important that the DNR is available when you call 911. If not, when the EMTs arrive at your home they’ll try to resuscitate the deceased even if there when there’s no breathing or pulse.

    • Have the name of the deceased’s doctor available as well as the name of the funeral home to be called. If you do not know the name, the deceased will be transferred to the local morgue.  The funeral home will pick up the body from the morgue after it has been chosen.

    • Provide a list of the deceased’s medications and/or prescription bottles.

    • Call 911 and inform the operator that there is no emergency, but a death has occurred and it was expected.

    • Provide the DNR when the EMTs arrive. The EMT will establish that death has occurred and they will call the funeral home.

    • Prepare to deal with the police or law-enforcement. Even when death is expected it is considered an “unattended” death unless hospice or a doctor was present. Law enforcement will come to investigate the scene. 

About the author: Karla Lopez’s entire career as a content marketer has been influencing other novice penmen. Currently, she’s been into marketing SEO writing niches, especially on finance, home improvement, fashion trends, and healthy lifestyles. 

Michael Quinn
Michael is a licensed life insurance agent, expert & owner of Life Insurance Blog. LIB has helped thousands of shoppers understand life insurance and secure affordable coverage.

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Michael Quinn
Founder – Life Insurance Blog

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