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Taking Care of Yourself and Your Family

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Taking Care of Yourself and Your Family

Coping with the Loss of a Family Member

  • Simplify your life for a while. Make a list of the things that you are responsible for in your life, such as taking care of the kids, buying groceries, or going to work. Then, look at your list and see which things are absolutely necessary. Is there anything you can put aside for a while? Are there things you can let go of completely?

  • Take care of your mind and body. Eat healthy food. Exercise regularly, even if it is only a long walk every day. Exercise will help lift depression and help you sleep better, too. Massage can also help release tension and comfort you.

  • Rely on people you trust. Seek information, advice and help from them.

  • Begin to restore order in your world by reestablishing old routines at work, home, or school as much as possible. Stay busy with work that occupies you mind; avoid overtaxing yourself with too much activity; leave yourself some down time to relax.

  • Talk to your children, who are often the invisible victims of these events, and make sure they are part of your reactions, activities, and plans.

  • Ask for help from family, friends, or professionals when you need it. Healing trauma, grief, and loss is similar to healing your body after illness or an accident. Just as there are doctors and nurses who are trained to help heal the body, there are professionals who are trained to help people recover from loss and cope with emotional pain.

  • Think about things that give you hope. Make a list of these things and turn to them on bad days.

Adapted from the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office for Victim Assistance: Help for Victims of Crimes

Dialogue with children About Death

 Do take the word “death” off the taboo list.

 Do understand that mourning and sadness are appropriate for people of all ages.

 Do allow them to release emotions.

 Do contact your children’s school and inform them of the loss.

 Do seek help if you feel unable to deal with your children during this crisis.

 Do not use stories and fairy tales as an explanation for the mystery of death.

Do not let your children believe that you have all the final answers.

 Do not be afraid to express your own emotions of grief.

 Do not forget to continue to give assurance of love and support.

 Try to recall the wonderfully happy times shred together, not just sad moment of death.

Youngsters should be reminded that the loss of one important relationship does not necessarily mean the loss of others-including the one with you. When words fail, touch! Attitude can be more important than words. Physical demonstrations of love and support are the greatest gifts to a grieving child. As you walk the long and difficult path of separation, you can find with your children new dimensions I their capacity for love, caring, and understanding. In truth, for people of all ages…healing is a process, recovery is a choice.
Adapted from Talking about Death

Notifying Government and Financial Agencies

When a family member or friend has died, it is important to notify various government agencies, banks, creditors and credit reporting agencies of the death. To reduce the risk of identity theft, these notifications should be made promptly after the death.

To expedite notification, you should initially make the contact by telephone followed by written verification. For many of the government agencies and financial entities, you will need the decedent’s social security number, a copy of the death certificate, and, if you are a personal representative (executor) of the estate, your appointments form from the probate court. Make sure to retain copies of all notices that you send.

Below is a checklist of possible agencies and businesses that should be notified of the death. Because each individual case is unique, the list may not be complete. Also, the funeral home may have notified some of the government agencies on your behalf. Please consult with the funeral director when you receive this list so you can check off those agencies which have been notified by the funeral director.

Government Agencies

  • Social Security Administration, 800-772-1213 (everyone)

  • Veteran’s Administration (if decedent was formerly in the military)

  • Defense Finance and Accounting Services, 800-269-5170 (military service retiree receiving benefits).

  • Officer of Personnel management, 888-767-6738 (if decedent is a retired or former federal civil service employee).

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 800-375-5283 (if decedent was not a U.S. citizen)

  • State Department of Motor Vehicles (if decedent had a driver’s license or state ID).

Financial Companies

  • Credit card and merchant card companies

  • Banks, savings and loan associations, and credit unions

  • Mortgage companies and lenders

  • Financial planners and stockbrokers

  • Pension providers

Insurance and annuity companies

  • Life insurers and annuity companies

  • Health, medical and dental insurers

  • Disability insurer

  • Automotive insurer

  • Mutual benefit companies

Credit Reporting Agencies

There are three national credit reporting agencies which you should notify of the death and instruct them to list all accounts as: “Closed. Account Holder is Deceased.” You may also request a credit report to obtain a list of all creditors and to review recent credit activities. A sample notification letter is available for you convenience.

  • Experian, 888-397-3742, P.O. Box 9701 Allen, Texas 75013

  • Equifax, 800-525-6285, P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta, Georgia 30348

  • TransUnion, 800-680-7289, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, California 92834


  • Professional associations and unions

  • Health clubs and athletic clubs

  • Automobile clubs

  • Video rental stores

  • Public library

  • Alumni clubs

  • Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Veterans’ organizations and clubs

Do not contact lists

For a fee of $1.00, you can list the decedent’s name on the Deceased Do Not Contact List which is maintained by the Direct Marketing Association. All members of the Direct Marketing Association will delete the decedent’s name from their mailing lists once the name is posted.

A website for registering the name is set forth below:

  • Direct marketing Association (register at www.ims-dm.com/cgi/ddnc)

Adapted from Death Notification Checklist, National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA)

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