Checklist: What To Do After a Loved One Dies
While we know how challenging losing a loved one can be on its own, if you’re the one managing and organizing their affairs, it can be even more emotionally taxing. To simplify this process, we’ve created a checklist of tasks to complete in the first five days post-death.
Steps to Tackle The First 5 Days After Your Loved One Passes Away
Immediately After Death (Day 0)
- Get a legal pronouncement of death
- If in hospice: call the hospice nurse, who will declare the death, and organize the transport of the body.
- If at home: call 911.
- Arrange body transport
- Call a mortuary, crematorium, or funeral home. They will help to arrange transportation of the body to its final resting place.
- Handle care of dependents or pets
- A guardian should take over the care of any child or elderly dependents. Also, don’t forget about Fido.
- Call close family and friends
- Friends and family that are close to the deceased or close to you are vital resources for support. Lean on this group to grieve and to help spread the news of the death and funeral details.
Within a Few Days After Death (Days 1-3)
- Call out-of-town friends and family that would want to attend the funeral
- Give this group as much notice as possible so that they can make travel plans.
- Text other key people
- Make sure aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors and all people important to you and the deceased have been texted an update about the death. There is no need to call every single relative or friend. Save your energy for the people who matter the most.
- E-mail co-workers
- Make sure to contact the deceased’s workplace to inform about the death. Also make sure your boss and co-workers know that you will be taking time off to grieve and make funeral arrangements.
Within Five Days After Death (Days 3-5)
- Order death certificates
- The funeral home or crematorium will help you obtain death certificates. This will be an essential document for handling your loved one’s affairs.
- Death certificates are issued by the State in which the person died. Some states such as Texas allow you to order death certificates online.
- You can also use an authorized third-party service such as VitalChek.
- Get obituary published
- Contact the local newspaper to publish an obituary. This serves as an opportunity to notify potential friends/family that your loved one has died. Often the newspaper requires a few days of lead time before the obituary is printed.
- Obituaries often cost a few hundred dollars. They are expensive, but also a surprisingly effective channel to communicate the death to friends of your loved one who you may not know personally.
- Post a social media announcement
- Add a social media announcement either on your personal account or on your loved one’s account. Include information about the funeral time and date. This is an opportunity to disseminate the details about the funeral to friends and family whose direct contact information you do not have.
- If you post on the deceased’s social media directly, that post can usually replace a traditional obituary in the newspaper.
Note: The social media post should be posted before the obituary appears in the newspaper.