January 13, 2013

January 13, 2013
What to Do When a Loved One Dies
Part 2

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Sunday and I hope you have been having a beary safe and great weekend so far. It is another busy weekend for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

One of the downsides of life is losing someone you love. When you live in a world where your work includes working with people living with chronic (and sometimes deadly) illnesses like HIV/AIDS and cancer; it happens more often than to the general public. But sooner or later, we all lose someone close to us.

So what do you do when someone dies? Yesterday I started blogging about a checklist that could help you cope with practical tasks during an emotional time that I will continue today. If you have not read yesterday's blog first, I would recommend going there before reading this one.

To Do Before the Funeral

Meet with the director handling the funeral or memorial arrangements. Use instructions your loved one might have left and the earlier family discussion to guide the many decisions to be made.

Will the body be embalmed or cremated?
Will there be a casket, and if so, will it be open or closed?
If body will be cremated, will the ashes be scattered?
If the ashes are deposited in an urn, will it be placed in a mausoleum?
Where is the burial site?
Do religious traditions need to be respected?
Will there be contributions to charities in lieu of flowers?

For a veteran, inquire about special arrangements. A range of benefits can help tailor a veteran's service. You may be able to get assistance with the funeral, burial plot or other benefits. You can find many details about options at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website (pdf). Or call Veterans Affairs at 1-800-827-1000 or your local veterans agency, often included in local government listings. You can also inquire about veteran's survivor benefits.

Consider whether you need or want other financial assistance for the funeral and burial. Help might be available from a number of sources, including a church, a union or a fraternal organization that the deceased belonged to. Phone or send an email to the local group.

Enlist help for the funeral. Relatives and friends may be needed to serve as pallbearers, to create or design the funeral program, cook meals (for a repast gathering or simply for the household of the deceased), take care of children or pets, or shop for any items needed for the funeral or household of the deceased.

Arrange for headstone. You can typically purchase a headstone through the cemetery or from an outside vendor of your choice. Consult the cemetery about rules, regulations and specifications such as color and size, particularly if you go with an outside vendor.

Organize a post-funeral gathering. Depending on your tradition, it's called a repast or a wake. It can be held at the church, a banquet hall or someone's house. Enlist the help of friends and relatives to plan.

Spread the word about the service. Once a date and time have been set for the service, share the details with those on your contact list. Include an address to send cards, flowers or donations.

Make a list of well-wishers. Keep track of who sends cards, flowers and donations so that you can acknowledge them later.

Prepare an obituary. The funeral home might offer the service or you might want to write an obituary yourself. If you want to publish it in a newspaper, check on rates, deadlines and submission guidelines. Don't include such details as exact date of birth that an identity thief could use.

Handle the ethical will, if there is one. An ethical will isn't a legal document, but rather a letter of sorts written to your family and friends that shares your values, life lessons and hopes for the future. If the deceased left one, arrange to share it, maybe even have it printed.

Tomorrow, I will continue blogging on this subject. Hope you have a beary safe and great Sunday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab