Four Steps to Take After Losing a Loved One

Step 1: Contact Family and Friends
Step 2: Plan the Arrangements
Step 3: Compile Necessary Paper Work
Step 4: Manage Your Loss

The death of a loved one can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. There is a good amount of uncertainty and fear that can go along with it, and coping with the grief can be devastating. While you are trying to manage the loss you do need to make some important decisions and this article can help you through that process. Here are four steps to take after losing a loved one:


Step 1: Contact Family and Friends

Arrange a gathering for family and friends. Regardless of cremation or funeral it is essential for people to come together and grieve, reminisce and even laugh. If you need to get a babysitter do so. Get help with everyday activities such as cleaning, answering the door, going to the store, and answering the door or phone. Arrange hospitality for visiting relatives and friends with food and drinks. Ask family and friends to bring by some food and drinks. If you would feel better having someone stay with you ask them to stay the night, or ask to stay at their home. Your family and friends will want to help in any way that they can.


Step 2: Plan the Arrangements

Make an appointment at your local funeral home. The funeral home will help organize preparations with the cemetery. Some of the information to finalize the State Vital statistic necessities are:

  • Birth Date
  • Birthplace
  • Father's Name
  • Mother's Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Veteran's Claim Number or Discharge Number
  • Education
  • Marital Status


If Social Security checks are automatically deposited, notify the bank of the death. The funeral director can help you decide on the place and time of funeral or memorial services.

Gather obituary information, including age, place of birth, cause of death, occupation, college degrees, memberships held, military service, outstanding work, and a list of survivors in immediate family. Give the time and place of the services. The funeral home will normally write an article and submit it to local newspapers (newspapers will accept a picture of your choice and it will be returned intact). You may also want to list where gifts can be sent: church, charity, school, hospice, or library.

Choose the funeral home and speak with the funeral director. The funeral director can help you with a recently departed packet they will have on hand. This will help you prepare for the funeral. The funeral director will help you set up the time and location of the funeral ceremony, get a death certificate for you (you will need at least ten copies). The funeral director can also get in touch with the Social Security Administration to help you get benefits. Funeral directors are there to help, so if you need anything just ask.


Step 3: Compile Necessary Paper Work

You will need to amass all of your loved one’s necessary paperwork. This includes:

  • Certified copies of the death certificate
  • Birth certificates of dependent children
  • Military discharge papers
  • A marriage license or certificate
  • Recent copies of Federal tax returns


You will need these papers in order to file for benefits. Your loved one’s estate planner or attorney will help you with this task if you don’t already have the necessary paperwork.

Contact the insurance company with which your loved one had a policy in order to file for benefits. While this might be a difficult time to think about finances, it is important to get this one done to relieve some of the financial burdens of death.

A death certificate is needed to close account or handle some paper work on behalf of the deceased. It is also needed to collect on any insurance. Try to find what the wishes of your loved one were. Cremation or burial, along with specific instructions on where and how can be left. Family and friends may be able to help if there isn’t a clear indicator.

Notify any accounts receivables: utility, landlord, phone company, creditors, and banks. Contact the post office to tell them of the death as well so they can stop sending mail. Collect any and all unpaid bills and contact them to see if there is any life insurance coverage. Consult with your financial advisor about all outstanding bills.

The Funeral Director will prepare Social Security Form SSA 721. Check with Social Security to make sure that the number is retired.


Step 4: Manage Your Loss

Finally, everyone is gone and it is time for those closest to the deceased to face their lives without their loved one. If outside help is needed, there are groups in most large cities for grieving the loss of a parent, spouse or child. In the Light Urns has done more writing on losing a child. Legal and financial matters are not the most important memories. This is just a guide to help you with the necessary steps after losing a loved one. Coping with a loved one’s death is difficult. If you need help it is always there. Consult family, friends and a counselor, if necessary. Words of Sympathy are also available by In the Light Urns and Memorials.


Losign a Loved One