Steps To Take When Someone Dies

family loss Mar 05, 2022
Grieving process

Death and Details

David Knapp


I had never personally dealt with the ensuing details after someone passes that overwhelmed me after my wife died. I knew her body needed to be dealt with and a funeral arranged, but that’s about it. The long list of other details just seemed to keep coming and I felt swamped.

It actually began with the mortician’s questions. They included: How many death certificates? Who will notify and write something for the newspaper? Do you have clergy for the funeral and how much will you pay him? Do you know about the Social Security Administration death benefit? Where will the remains be placed? Will there be a marker?

It felt like an interrogation.

When I met with my church pastor, he was very helpful with some details but his knowledge added to my growing list of tasks. My list of who to notify began to build. In addition to family, he pointed out that there were institutions that needed to be contacted like our bank, insurance company, retirement accounts, employer, lawyer and department of motor vehicles.

The overwhelming part of dealing with the details was that often they remined me over and again of my loss. It wasn’t a matter of forgetting, but with each detail it just made my pain refresh a bit. Not fun. There didn’t seem to be much guidance available either. Often a new task just came out of nowhere that I had to figure out. 

Two of the hidden challenges of this process of dealing with all the responsibilities was the time it took and what documents were required to finalize the legal items. There were property deeds and vehicle titles and who knew what else? Soon it became apparent that I needed to have a chat with my lawyer and accountant for their insight as to what else had to be attended to in this unsolicited, painful list of duties.

Sure enough, they did have a couple suggestions I did not consider. “Will this ever end?” I wondered.

Months after my wife’s death I realized that the onslaught of details had subsided. The death certificates had been sent to all the credit card companies, institutions and insurance people. No new requirements had emerged in a while.

I experienced a bit of relief from the business of all the details when someone dies.

My journey of feeling swamped by those details gave me an added way to help another person who has recently lost someone and had started up the mountain of responsibilities. I try to kindly provide suggestions of things they may not have thought of and gently give guidance on how to navigate through it.

The Edward Jones company has compiled a list of suggestions that can be very helpful. Their brochure can be seen at;

For additional information about dealing with various losses go to;;

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