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What to Do in the First 48 Hours When You Lose a Loved One

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Help When You Need It A Guide to Provide Direction Through Grief and Uncertainty First, determine if your loved one had a funeral plan. If not, here is a guide that can help reduce your stress. Who Should I Call First? • Family and Friends—Ask family members for help with notifying relatives, friends and business associates of the death—especially if you have many people to call. • Religious Contacts—Communicate with your loved one's place of worship to conduct the funeral service. • Employer—If your loved one was employed when he or she passed away, contact his or her employer's human resources department and inquire about any final paychecks, sick time and benefits. • Professional Groups—Contact organizations of which your loved one was a member, such as alumni associations and professional organizations. Making Final Arrangements [ 1 ] What will be the time, location and day of the funeral? [ 2 ] Does your loved one have a prepaid cemetery plot? [ 3 ] If your loved one wished to be cremated, where will the ashes be scattered or to whom shall they be given? [ 4 ] Will the casket be open or closed? [ 5 ] Will there be any specific prayers, music, pallbearers and flowers for the service? [ 6 ] Should charitable gifts be given in lieu of flowers? [ 7 ] Will a luncheon be served following the service? Who will prepare the food? [ 8 ] Is someone available to watch over your loved one's home—especially during the funeral service? [ 9 ] Is there a trusted friend or family member who can help you keep a list of people to thank for support, flowers, food and memorial gifts? Funeral home staff members can help with numerous tasks, such as moving your loved one to the funeral home, obtaining copies of the death certificate (you will typically need at least 10 copies for paperwork purposes), and even connecting you with a support group for survivors. Once the funeral arrangements have been made, inform the community through an obituary in the local newspaper or other publication. You have just received the bad news: You have lost a loved one. As grief begins to enter your mind, you may wonder what to do next. Understanding that now is the critical time to make important decisions, you begin to focus on the next couple of days.

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