As I originally typed this article (it was on Squidoo for years), my adorable Mother, Gertie, lay dying in front of me. It was ok though as she was 95 and had lived a full and wonderful life.
Since I was her full-time caregiver, I had a lot of time to sit and think about all the things that needed to be done after death. So, why not do them early? After all, my grieving process had begun about 3 weeks prior to Mom’s death when she took a turn for the worse.
Being prepared for the death of a loved one can make the whole process much less stressful when the time finally comes. I don’t care how emotionally prepared you think you might be, the minute the last breath is released, you might not be thinking very rationally. It’s way easier to have all of the items ready to go without you having to run around or think about anything.
Buy A Small Notebook To Keep With You For Notes
Even in this day and age of electronics, portable tablets, smart phones etc, when my Dad died, I had small pieces of paper everywhere – I’d lose more than I’d retain. It finally dawned on me that it would be much easier to jot everything down in one small notebook that I kept in my purse at all times. It carried important information such as social security numbers, address and phone number of the funeral home, etc.
And, since Mom came to live with me that very day, I sectioned off a bit of the notebook for information I needed for her, such as doctor appointments, etc.
Read Some Books About The Dying Process
I found that I was very apprehensive to one day witness my Mom’s death. I knew that I had to learn and understand what was in front of me so I turned to a few good books.
Knowing what to expect when death comes will make the process much less scary. Here’s some highly rated books on dying on Amazon.com:
As Hard As It May Be, Visit The Funeral Home Before The Death
This is probably the hardest thing that has to be done after the death of a loved one. But, if you do it beforehand, you’ll have more time to select the coffin or urn and talk to the undertaker about your loved one’s wishes.
Beware: you’ll be sticker shocked! Studies show that the average funeral costs around $7500 (!) without the plot.
When you visit the funeral home, take a picture of your loved one with you so they’ll know the preferred hairstyle and makeup. I hate to see people laid out in caskets who are caked in makeup and have a beehive hairdo. Pick out and take any clothes you want your loved one buried in.
Take along any music you’d like played before or after the funeral. Also, bring along any pictures you may have that you’d like displayed and tell the mortuary personnel about their placement.
Take any trinkets you’d like set in the casket with your loved one.
Select And Purchase A Funeral Urn On Amazon.com, If Needed
Buying a funeral urn ahead of time can save you a whole lot of money. Amazon has some of the prettiest cremation urns around. The below cremation urns are biodegradeable!
Select Your Own Outfit For The Funeral and Cemetery
Make sure you consider the weather before selecting a lightweight cotton dress for a December funeral in a cooler climate. And forget about wearing heels to a funeral. If you go to the burial, chances are good you’ll be kicking up sode.
Have your and your familys’ outfits cleaned and ready to go at a moment’s notice. No need to be searching around for that pair of black hose when they can be hanging on a hanger under your skirt.
And, don’t be overly concerned about wearing black. Wear what feels best for you.
Put Together A Call List For Notifying People After The Death
Since Mom lived with me, I knew that I’d be the first one to know of her death. Rather than have to call every friend and relative, I made a call list, including names, numbers and, if needed, emails and circulated it to my brothers and friends. Each of them are responsible for contacting those people on their list. This way, the word will spread quickly and I don’t have to do it all.
Select A Photo And Write The Obituary
Another tough thing to do prior to a death is to write your loved one’s obituary, but it needs to be done. Contact your local paper and find out the cost and sizes of obituaries available. Structure your loved one’s obituary accordingly (note: I was shocked to find out how much a 3″ obituary was in the Washington Post!
Start Writing The Eulogy Prior To Your Loved Ones Death
I was raised in the Jewish faith so our funerals happen almost immediately after the death of our loved ones – generally, within 24 hours.
I knew that I wouldn’t have enough time to put together the eulogy I wanted for my Mom if I waited. So, I started working on it at least 2 weeks before she died.
Select Readings For the Funeral
Not everyone wants readings at a funeral but they always make the funeral service more personal, if you ask me. If you don’t feel emotionally strong enough to give a reading, ask a close family friend if they will step in.S
Put Together A Handout For The Funeral
People like to have something to hold at funerals and small programs celebrating the life of your loved one makes just the perfect thing. Include a beautiful picture on the front and a bit about their life on the inside. It doesn’t have to be fancy and you don’t have to be Mark Twain to write the thing. Just write what you feel.
You might include some background about their youth, accomplishments in life, even add in a funny story. Funerals don’t have to be dismal.
While you’re at it, you might want to print directions to the wake, if there will be one. Here’s some good card stock paper on Amazon.com:
Clean Out The Car You’ll Be Using For Transportation To The Funeral
No one wants to put on their Sunday best and sit in yesterday’s slurpee right before heading out for a funeral. Also, cleaning out a family car is a wonderful way to be supportive if you have a friend who is in mourning.
Line Up Someone To Stay At The House During The Funeral
Especially if there is a notice of death in the local paper, make sure someone is on house duty the day of the funeral. Untowardly types might well see the death notice and document the funeral date, anticipating that the house will be empty. Have some one (or a large dog!) on guard.
Particularly if the date and time of the funeral was posted in the paper, it’s important to have someone remain at the house during the funeral service. It’s quite easy for thieves to look through the obituaries and find when funerals will occur. They then know that family members will be gone from their homes – bam! That’s when they’ll strike.