When a Loved One Dies – a Checklist for Survivors

when a loved one dies

Losing a parent is probably one of the hardest things that any of us will have to go through in our lifetime. Unfortunately, last week it was our turn. The night of April 30th we received a hysterical phone call from my fiancé’s mother that his father had passed.  Heartbroken and shocked, we raced to her aid and dealt with the chaos at hand.  There were a dozen family members, friends, and paramedics.  We were not prepared for this situation at all.

When a loved one dies, all the practical things that need to be addressed can be particularly overwhelming during such an emotional time.  To help my fiancé with this, I used my organizing skills to make a checklist that I will be sharing at the end of this post.  Needless to say, this was not the most fun organizing project, but gathering important documents and knowing what needed to be handled was extremely important.

My soon-to-be-father-in-law suffered from diabetes; at age 68 no one thought that his life was so close to the end. I believe that our Heavenly Father gave him some inclination that he needed to say his goodbyes, because he spent his last day professing his love to his wife and talking with relatives and friends. At first, we weren’t even sure how it happened, but soon enough we would learn that his life was ended by a massive heart attack.  

The irony of death is that it brings together the living; we are reminded how much people truly care.  My fiancé’s mother was met with numerous helping hands. Neighbors brought food and even trimmed her hedges.

It still seems surreal that we won’t be able to go over to his house to discuss our latest DIY project or call him up to ask a silly novice question.  His expertise was varied and he was always eager to give advice.  He would readily loan us tools and if possible, lend a helping hand.  In the three short years I knew him, he always made us feel special and important.  His influence in our lives will be greatly missed.

When comforting loved ones in times of loss I think it’s important to remember there are no magic words and there is no time limit on grief. Grief is personal and not always well understood. Our presence and support is usually all anyone wants or needs.  Everything else, God will heal in His time.

Hopefully, you won’t have to go through this any time soon but when you do I pray this list gives you some peace of mind.

 when a loved one dies

Download the Survivor’s Checklist

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Comments

When a Loved One Dies – a Checklist for Survivors — 8 Comments

  1. Once again, Amanda, I am so very sorry for your loss. It is so hard to lose a parent. I lost my stepdad to cancer 7 1/2 years ago (he was only 48) and it is still hard sometimes to look at my boys and know how badly he wanted to be a grandpa. He started chemotherapy the day after my oldest was born and he was too sick most of the time to enjoy being with him for the brief 6 months he had left. I pray that you, your fiancee, and his family are all coping with such a sudden and tragic loss.

    • Thank you Katie for such kind words. I will definitely pass them on to him. I’m sorry about your step-father too. I can’t imagine life without my parents, especially not having them experience being grandparents. Thanks again for the prayers and positive thoughts.

  2. Hi Amanda. I came across this post at your Thursday STYLE party tonight. What a great idea to make a checklist. I haven’t read it yet, but I will. We just lost my father almost exactly a year ago at a fairly young age (he was 63 years old). He wasn’t married and my brother, sister, and I had NO CLUE what to do. Even right after the decisions start (i.e. pick a funeral home so we can call someone to come pick up the body (he died at home)). What?!? How in the world do we do that in 2 minutes?? Cremation or burial, what type of urn/coffin. Who to call? What day to have the funeral? And then the next year spent dealing with the estate stuff, while not having a clue or being prepared for his death whatsoever. Sorry to hear about your loss. I hope your fiancé is doing okay. It will get easier every day. Thinking of your family …
    XO,
    Katie

    • Your situation sounds very familiar. My father-in-law passed at home too and waiting for the coroner, dealing with all the chaos and “what happens next?” questions made it all the more unreal. There should be some required college class or something, because until I started researching I didn’t know there were so many things to take care of and we weren’t prepared either. I hope this list helps someone avoid confusion. Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words.

  3. Thank you for this. A close family friend passed away this week and even though she’d been in poor health for a while, death did not seem imminent. She and her family had been my family’s friends for 45 years. It’s shocking what the family left behind has to deal with and decide about in the throes of their grief. I’m pinning your list for future reference. It’s something we don’t want to need any time soon, but death is a natural part of life, and we need to be prepared. My sincere condolences on the loss of the man who sounds as if he loved you very much.

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