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Planning A Funeral After An Unexpected Death: 8 Ways To Get Through This Most Difficult Time

While enduring the loss of a loved one is always hard, when the death comes as a surprise, such as in an accident, the shock and emotional trauma are even greater. As you face these difficult circumstances, accomplishing much of anything besides mourning is a challenge. For the sake of the lost one, along with all those who loved them, you have a lot of things to take care of. Planning the funeral may actually help guide you through your grief, as it will give you a sense of purpose.

1. Call A Funeral Home With Your Immediate Questions

Even if you haven't decided on a service or where to hold it, a funeral home, like Glickler Funeral Home & Cremation Service, can help you with your most pressing questions, such as how and where to move your deceased loved on in the hours following their death. Depending on the circumstances, like if an investigation into the cause of death is needed, transportation may be out of your hands for now. Otherwise, you're likely going to need to make some quick decisions regarding the location of the decedent.

2. Give Yourself Some Time To Think And Gather Yourself

As long as the immediate arrangement of caring for the body has been taken care of, allow yourself time to take a few deep breaths and situate yourself emotionally. Any death is difficult to deal with; however, sudden death is particularly hard on those left behind. You're going to have a lot to take care of in the coming week or two and a lot to absorb emotionally, so giving yourself some personal time isn't just permitted, it's highly recommended.

3. Start Calling Loved Ones, Friends, And Relatives

After you've gathered some strength, make a list of everyone who needs to be notified about the death and funeral arrangements. It might be better for certain people to receive the news from a source other than you, so make sure the calls are coordinated. Also, it would help you to have another voice making the announcement so that you're not left repeating the same painful message over and over. Start with the list, but ask someone to work with you. Keep in mind, too, that it may be better to deliver your words in person in some cases. Make these tough decisions, hopefully with someone by your side to support you.

4. Find Out If The Deceased Made Formal Funeral Plans For Themselves

If your lost loved one had a will with specific instructions on what to do in the event of their death, that should simplify the funeral process for you. They may have mentioned a specific funeral home and type of service they preferred, in which case you'd simply contact the director of the specified funeral home and ask for the arrangements to be made. Again, asking for support from others who knew and cared for the decedent is the most beneficial option for you, as having to do all of this by yourself while you're emotionally processing the loss is very hard.

5. Talk To A Funeral Director In Person If No Will Exists

Especially with unexpected deaths, it's common for no plans to have been made, particularly if the person was young and healthy. That means everything will be left up to the living, so you should sit down with the funeral director of a home of your choosing. They'll walk you through the steps you need to take in planning everything, where you'll face even more decisions, including the following:

  • The choice of casket.
  • When and what type of wake to hold, including the possibility of a gathering afterwards at your or someone else's home.
  • Denomination and delivery of church service, if desired.
  • Music, pictures, and other forms of tribute.
  • Whether the deceased will be buried or cremated (cremation means making other choices, such as the type of urn and who the remains will be given to).
  • Grave-side services.
  • Military applications, if the decedent was a veteran. You might be entitled to financial assistance (for the services and headstone), as well as a United States flag, in memory of the veteran's service to their country.

6. Ask For Input From Others

Other individuals who knew the person who has passed may wish to contribute to the service in the form of speeches, poems, and anecdotes. Also, others might offer their homes for gatherings or their kitchens for creating food for the ceremony. Take people up on their offers. Participating will be good for them, and the assistance will be good for you.

7. Announce The Date, Time, And Location Of All Services

You'll need to make sure everyone who is interested is properly informed of the services. Call local publications with details, and use social media, especially if your loved one was very active on a particular platform. If you're not sure whether someone will see your announcements, give them a call or stop by. It might also be helpful to anyone who has difficulty getting around, such as an elderly friend or relative, if you check in on them and make sure they have a way of getting to the services.

8. Find Strength In Numbers As You Proceed With The Funeral

While no one remedy exists to heal the pain of losing a loved one suddenly, you should be able to find solace with each other. Even strangers who have only their acquaintance with the decedent in common will take to each other like long-lost friends. Lean on each other and keep checking up on each other so that no one person feels isolated in their grief or becomes overcome with depression at the unexpected and tragic loss.