How to Prepare for a Loved One’s (Or Your Own) Passing

Gabby MartinBio Recovery General, End of Life Planning

Key-Points

  • Write an advance directive or update your will

  • Give family access to your documents

  • Finalize your funeral arrangements

  • Prepare yourself for the Death of a Loved One

  • Enlist help with post-death details


Die Peacefully

Some of us are going to accept death sooner than others, whether it’s their own or a parent, grandparent, or spouse. When there’s time—weeks, months, or possibly decades—creating a plan for our estate, the disposition of our remains, and all the details is one of the best gifts we can give to those we leave behind.

We can offer to help finalize their last wishes while they’re still able to do so, giving them peace of mind while ensuring we’re not overwhelmed with decisions when our minds and hearts are focused elsewhere.

Note: these are tips on preparing for a peaceful death. If you are feeling suicidal, we urge you to call 800-273-8255 right away.

1. Update Your Will

How do you want your legacy distributed among your family, friends, or charities? Who will make sure your wishes are met, and your estate settled in a responsible, ethical, and timely fashion? It’s never too soon to review your will and, with their permission, select an executor or executrix

You may also inform your closest relatives of basic matters, including when certain funds are available to pay for your funeral arrangements and immediate bills. Whether you opt to inform beneficiaries in advance of their own inheritance is entirely up to you.  

Different states hold their own standards for validating wills, so be sure to check with an attorney licensed in your state so you know you’ve correctly completed your documentation.

2. Give family access to your documents and passwords

Write down account numbers for your insurance policies, banking institutions, credit cards, and make a list of any entertainment or membership accounts that auto-renew so your executor can cancel them as soon as possible after your death.

Be sure your advance directive addresses where to find the following as well: 

  • Do you have a safe deposit box or locked storage unit in your apartment? Be sure the keys or combinations are accessible to those you trust. 
  • Don’t forget to write down passwords for your computer and handheld devices. 
  • If you have social media, do you how you want your social media channels handled post-mortem? Write down your instructions, and make a list of your accounts, user names, and passwords. 

Always keep paper copies of important contracts, account information, wills, deeds, appraisals, and titles, and keep digital copies on external thumb or hard drives. Let your loved ones and executor know where to find these valuable documents.

3. Finalize your funeral arrangements

What is your loved one’s choice for their body’s disposition? Have they already made arrangements and set aside funding for their own funeral?  How do you access those funds if the funerary care isn’t pre-paid? 

If your loved one hasn’t already made their preferences clear, ask them how they want their body handled once they are deceased. Meet with a trusted funeral director to find out what alternative means of disposition are available in your area, in addition to better-known methods such as embalming, traditional burial, and cremation. 

Ask your funeral director to walk you through what happens when your loved one passes away at home: What number do you call, and when? Who will come and remove the body? What personal items do you need to provide to the funeral director, and when, to prepare the body for viewing?

4. Prepare Yourself for the Death of a Loved One

When you’re caring for a family member in home hospice, you’ve already begun to grieve. This mental stress, combined with the physical and emotional effort required of you as a caregiver, requires that you look after yourself. Feel the hurt if you have any, but consistently remind yourself to take breaks. Your recovery and downtime is not selfish, it will help you better tend to your loved one. Short walks, yoga, healthy meals, and naps when you can take them will keep you mentally and physically resilient. 

If you’re mentally planning for your own passing, you’re going through enough. Remember, help is available. Always ask for help to alleviate additional stress. Consider allocating a home aid budget or supplemental insurance to allow for paid in-home care professionals to “sub in” for them from time to time. There are volunteer organizations and respite-care assistance programs designed for this purpose.

5. Enlist help with post-death details

You want to remember the deceased enjoying their home as a healthy, vibrant person… not as a patient lying in a hospital bed surrounded by medical machinery. Make arrangements for friends, a moving company, or the medical equipment provider to remove the equipment and restore the original furniture.

Part of that transition includes cleaning up and disinfecting any bedding soiled by body fluids and solids, and removing pervasive odors associated with illness and death. 

You can lay the groundwork for apartment cleanup ahead of time by selecting a biohazard cleanup company in advance. Doing so will help you determine whether your home or renter’s insurance will cover the cost, or if there are other financing opportunities. Plus, it will also eliminate the shock and confusion on who will help clean the residence. Generally, cleanup after a death at home is affordable and discreet, and it avoids encountering unpleasant decomposition cleanup after a relative has passed.

Cleaning Out an Apartment After Death

We do hope that this article helped bring you some peace in some way. We’re here for you when you need us. No one should have to disinfect and clean the fluids of a grandparent, parent, or spouse after they die.

Take the stress and additional burden out of knowing what cleaning company will assess the post-death situation. Keep us in mind if you need professional cleaning anywhere in the US.

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