Action Amid Grief: What to Do When a Loved One Passes Away
Loss is an inevitable part of life but challenging nonetheless. After a loved one passes away, the grief can be so overwhelming that adjusting to a new reality can be difficult.
Remaining active, even amid grief, can be a powerful step toward healing because it forces the brain to focus on the important tasks at hand, as opposed to cycles of grief-related rumination.
If you’ve just experienced the loss of a loved one, here are five immediate and actionable tasks you can do:
1. Get Support
- Create a grief support group among your trusted family and friends. Talking with close family members, not just for grief support, can work to integrate your emotions with your thoughts (both of which are reduced when under stress).
- Actively seek their help in taking care of the many tasks that need to be completed. Rather than being a chore, planning an end-of-life ceremony should be viewed as a healthy part of the mourning process and can provide structured time during this early grieving period.
- Consider speaking with a therapist or scheduling an emergency session with your present mental health provider if you feel emotionally overburdened or symptoms of complicated grief are preventing you from moving forward.
2. Talk to Your Family
You are never alone—although many tasks must be completed after a loved one passes, you don’t have to take all of these on yourself.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to your family—you’ll find that they are more than willing to take some of the burden off your shoulders for tasks like:
- Notifying the loved one’s employer and close friends of their passing.
- Taking care of any pets (if there are any).
- Accessing the loved one’s social media accounts to turn them into memorial accounts.
- Securing the loved one’s property and packing the house or rental property.
- Contacting utility companies and other important organizations, like banks/credit unions, insurance agents, landlords, and the Social Security Administration.
- Closing email accounts, canceling subscriptions, and deleting cell phone data to prevent identity theft.
3. Submit a Death Certificate & Purchase Certified Copies
When a death occurs within the state of Michigan, it must be officially declared by a doctor, coroner, medical examiner, or funeral director. An application for a death certificate is prepared and filed with the local registrar within 72 hours after death.
You will also need a copy of the loved one’s death certificate to file claims for insurance and many government-run organizations like the Social Security Administration. At the time of this writing, the fees and address to request a certified copy of a death certificate in Michigan are as follows:
- The cost of a death certificate copy is $34.00.
- Rush fees will cost an additional $12.
- Personal checks and money orders are accepted.
- Make the check payable to the state of Michigan.
- Send the check or money order to the following address:
Vital Records Request
P.O. Box 30721
Lansing, MI 48909
Please talk to our funeral director at Wujek-Calcaterra if you need help submitting a death certificate—we’re available 24/7.
4. Talk to an Estate Lawyer
If your loved one left a will, trust, or real estate property, or is a partner in or owner of a business, then talking to an estate lawyer will help with the legal aspects of dividing and dispersing their wealth.
- First, check if there is a specific estate lawyer that your loved one has used to settle legal matters.
- If they don’t have one, consider working with one to determine what the next steps will be. Online directories like Justia can help you find estate lawyers in your area.
5. Contact a Funeral Director
A funeral director can help you plan the details of a funeral, including writing obituaries and making arrangements for pallbearers and clergy services.
If a burial is chosen, they can often help select a gravesite at a cemetery of your choice.
And if your loved one preplanned their ceremony, a funeral director can help you realize your loved one’s wishes.
Get Grief Support & More From Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons
Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons has provided traditional burials, cremation services, funeral preplanning, and grief support to families in Michigan for over four decades.
Whether you need help planning your loved one’s funeral or just need a shoulder to lean on, we’re here to help. Please contact us today to get the support you need during this challenging time—we’re here for you 24 hours, seven days a week.