How to Handle a Death in Your Family


Tena Scallan

Family /

Losing a Family Member

I have recently lost two different family members and I would like to share my experience with you.  Death is an inevitable part of our lives.  We will all have to face the pain and sadness of losing our loved ones. The loss of a loved one is not a pleasant experience.  Dealing with the sadness, anger and guilt in a poised manner can be very difficult.

There are many things that must be taken care of after the loss of a loved one.   Finding loved ones to support you and assist you in getting organized should be the utmost priority.

If your loved one is being cared for by a home health agency or hospice agency, they will discuss the end-of-life arrangement.  If your loved one does not have an agency please discuss the end-of-life arrangements with your loved one and other family members.

After the Last Breath

If your loved one is under home health or hospice, contact them immediately.   The home health nurse or hospice nurse can declare the death. Then they can help to transport the body.   

If your love one passes with only a family caregiver, you will have to call 911.  The police will arrive and assess the situation, then call a paramedic to pronounce your loved ones time of death.

Do not Manage Alone

Managing all these affairs single-handedly will only add to the emotional burden.  So, the best idea would be to seek help from relatives and friends to help you lessen the burden.

The main task begins after the funeral is over, after friends and other close relatives have gone.  Even though the grief hasn’t taken a back seat.  There are many tasks that need your time and attention.

5 Things to Do After the Death of a Loved One

  1. Order a Death Certificate.   While making funeral arrangements, request several copies of the death certificate.  These are required for closing bank accounts and notifying government and non-government organizations.
  2. Contact a Probate Attorney. If your deceased loved one has made a will in any form.  Contacting an attorney becomes important to understand the future course of action.  If a will has been made, it will name an executor to be in charge of taking care of their estate.  If a will has not been made, then the probate attorney will give you instructions to what will happen.  Each state has different rules and regulations.
  3. Contacting all banks and financial institutes.   You will need to gather bank names, account numbers, etc. on the bank accounts.   The bank will require a copy of the death certificate or a letter of testamentary.  The executor will take steps to cancel all accounts to prevent any hardships.  Finally, the executor will have the accounts seized by the bank until after probate.   Probate is the court process by which a will is proved valid or invalid.   When a person dies, his or her estate must go through probate, which is a process overseen by a probate court.  If the decedent leaves a will directing how his or her property should be distributed after death, the probate court must determine if it should be admitted to probate and given legal effect.  If the decedent dies without a will, the court will appoint a personal representative to distribute the decedent’s property according to the law.  In general, the probate process involves collecting the decedent’s assets, liquidating liabilities, paying necessary taxes, and distributing properties or monies to the heirs.
  4. Contact all government agencies such as the social security office. The funeral director usually does this, but still it is better if you give the local office a call.  This is necessary to stop payments of benefits if your loved one received any.  When the deceased has a spouse or any other legal beneficiary, then it is necessary that the office be informed as well.  The benefits will then go to the dependents of the deceased.
  5. Contact other important companies such as the insurance, Medicare, and mortgage companies.   If your loved had enrolled under Medicare plans and benefits, then it is also necessary to contact the officials.   Also, mortgage companies and other billing companies will need to be notified of the death, so that the necessary arrangements for payment can be made.

Get Organized 

Organization after a death is key to a calm and peaceful transition.  In many instances, one member of the family takes care of these issues.   Make sure that all family members are informed about who is handling what. Lack of communication between family members can create friction and unpleasantness after a death.  You will need to take a special interest in keeping a record of all the essential information.  

Examples of Pertinent Information

  • Medical Records 
  • Family and Friend Numbers 
  • Bank Account Details 
  • Insurance Policies 
  • Certificates of Deposits
  • Information on Loans 
  • Saving Bonds 
  • Stock certificates
  • Property Deeds

In conclusion, facing the death of a loved one is not an easy task.  Handle it with patience, courage and gratitude.  You will need to gather knowledge of your loved one’s affairs and finances.  Lastly, seeking help from others will be critical in order to help you and your family transition during this hectic time. 


For more information about Tena L. Scallan and Caregiving, visit The Ultimate Caregiving Expert


Categories: Family
About The Author

Tena Scallan is a passionate healthcare professional, business owner and published author with over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry.

Tena has dedicated her life’s work to working in hospitals, running her own in-home caregiving agency and providing coaching and guidance for family caregivers.

Tena firmly believes that both home and lifestyle can be preserved by in-home compassionate caregiving in the face of aging or illness.  You can find more information about Tena L. Scallan and Caregiving at: 

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