A PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT
The next few months will be a time for adjustment and reorganization in
your life. While there is nothing anyone can do to make these months
stress -or worry -free, this Survivor's Guide has been designed
to help make this period of change as easy as possible.
We recommend that you read the booklet at your own pace, section by
section, and keep it handy for future reference.
At the end of this page you will find a detailed Post-Funeral To-Do
Checklist. Use it to keep track of the many detailed tasks you will
need to complete over the next few months, such as filing for benefits,
name changes and paperwork you will need to fill out to ensure your
safety, health and well-being.
Donít hesitate to enlist the help or advice of experts,
if needed, particularly regarding legal or financial matters. On the other
hand, this is a period of adjustment and it may be a good opportunity to
develop some self-help skills to ease your way into a comfortable and
FILING FOR BENEFITS
Your funeral director can help you in filing for benefits. The funeral
director will provide the necessary copies of the death certificate and
can assist when filing claims for insurance or Social Security, Veterans,
and/or professional or fraternal order benefits. You can ask the funeral
director any questions that may arise during this process.
Following are some important things to remember when filing claims on your
own or when working with a funeral director:
|The sooner you file the
sooner you will start receiving your benefits.|
|Make certain you have filed
for all eligible benefits. Check with all |
federal and state social service
agencies, employers, insurance companies,
and any other agencies with
which the deceased was affiliated.
|If you have doubts or questions about any benefits, contact the
agency or administration. You also can ask your funeral
director to obtain
the information on your behalf.
Social Security Benefits
To obtain your Social Security benefits, you will need to provide the
following original or certified documents and information to your
local Social Security office:
|Proof of your age. This can be documented with a copy
of your |
|The deceased's W-2 tax forms or the previous year's
|Proof of the deceased's support, if applying as a
dependent parent, |
child or grandchild.
|A Social Security card belonging to the deceased or
proving the deceased's Social Security number.
|Your Social Security card if you are the beneficiary.|
|A certified copy of your marriage license and copies
of divorce papers |
if you are not the deceased's first spouse.
|A Social Security filing form, which can be obtained
from your funeral|
director or the nearest Social Security office.
|Birth certificates or other proof of age of all
|A copy of the death certificate.|
|All bank account and financial information in the
To file for these benefits yourself, call your local
Social Security Administration office. It will be listed in your local
telephone directory under "Social Security Administration" or "United
States Government, Health and Human Services." Applications can be taken
over the telephone in most areas. You also can contact the Social Security
Administration online at
www.ssa.gov. Among the site's detailed, up-to-date information, the
booklets Survivors Benefits (Publication No. 05-10084) and
Social Security: Understanding the Benefits (Publication No. 05-10024)
contain information and instructions about filing for benefits and can be
downloaded by clicking on the title.
Please be patient. Because of the large volume of claims being processed
at any given time, it may take up to two months for you to start receiving
* Note: Social Security benefits will only begin after you have
filed for them. If you do not file for benefits as quickly as possible,
you may forfeit your benefits for the months that have elapsed since the
The surviving spouse and dependents of a deceased veteran who had received
his or her discharge papers are entitled to certain benefits. There are
three major benefits available to families of veterans:
|Pensions or compensations are available for service-connected|
and non-service connected deaths. A non-service connected
death pension is available to the widow, widower or dependent
children. If the death was service-related, dependency and indemnity
compensation may be available. Eligibility for these benefits is
by the income and marital status of the surviving spouse.
|A deceased veteranís family may be eligible for a
portion of the burial expenses.|
|A veteran's family may be eligible for a headstone or
a sum made payable |
toward a headstone of choice.
Other benefits are available for survivors under
additional circumstances. For a copy of the "Federal Benefits for Veterans
and Dependents" booklet, write to:
Office of Public Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20420.
Information regarding veteran benefits also is available on the Department
of Veterans Affairs web site,
www.va.gov, and from your local or regional Veteranís Administration
office and the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C.
Retirement or Pension Funds
Some businesses transfer pension or retirement accounts to the surviving
spouse. Check with the deceased's place of employment or former employer
to see if such a policy exists.
Certain union members' spouses or dependents are entitled to a pension.
Check with your local union office for details on pensions that may apply
Professional or Fraternal Organizations
Professional or fraternal organizations have "death benefit" sums or other
benefits for a deceased member of the organization or lodge. You should
call your local organization to inquire. Regardless of benefits, however,
such organizations should be notified of the death. It is customary for
news of the death to be printed in their publications or announced at
It is not uncommon for life insurance policies to date back many years,
especially in the case of older persons. To file life insurance claims,
you should first locate all policies issued to the deceased. If you have a
primary insurance agent, he or she may be willing to file the claim for
Most life insurance policies have no filing deadline. The sooner you file
the claim, however, the sooner you will begin receiving benefits. It is
wise to have a payment schedule arranged so you can budget expenses above
funeral and other initial expenses in monthly sums. Your insurance agent
or a bank officer can help you in doing this.
If you and the deceased owned mortgaged real estate together, check with
your primary insurance agent or the lending institution holding the deed
to the property to determine if there was mortgage insurance.
This also is a good time to update your own life insurance coverage,
modifying where necessary and changing the beneficiary on your policy or
policies, if needed.
Wills and Estates
Simply stated, a will is a written record of one's preferences for the
distribution of personal property after death.
In most states, property that is held in the name of a husband or wife
does not need to be filed through probate court. Often, the filing of a
document, such as an affidavit or death certificate, will clear the title
and show the surviving spouse as the owner of record.
If the decedent had a will, it should be probated as soon as possible.
Many states have limitations that require a will to be probated within a
certain amount of time. Some states require proof of lost wills, assuming
that a legitimate copy can be produced.
In the absence of a will, state laws govern the inheritance of the
property. These laws provide for the distribution of property in a fixed
manner, according to the state's statutes. If you have specific questions
about the laws in your state, you should seek the advice of an attorney.
The federal government levies a tax on estates that are inherited because
of a death. Also, many states impose an additional inheritance tax. Both
of these taxes are subject to numerous exemptions. For more information on
taxes, check the "Estate, Inheritance and Other Taxes" section on Page 5.
Finally, it is important that you get good advice about what should be
included in the estate, what taxes will have to be paid, if any, and how
to go about administering the estate. In most cases, it will be necessary
to consult an attorney. If the deceased had an attorney, check with him or
her to see if the deceased left a will, as many attorneys retain an
original copy of the wills they prepare for clients. This also would be a
good time to think about drawing up your own will or revising the one you
have. The death of a spouse generally creates a change in circumstances
that may necessitate revisions in your estate plan.
After filing for benefits, you are now ready to take the next step-taking
care of all the additional paperwork that must be done over the next few
months. The first step is examining any accounts, assets and bills that
are in the deceased's name and changing them to the name of the person who
will now be responsible. In addition to meeting the legal requirements,
correcting this information and placing the responsibility in your hands
will help you to further your sense of independence.
While there are many documents to be changed, the following list includes
some of the most common. As you read through the list, note any categories
that may apply to you so that you will remember to take care of them. The
Post-Funeral To-Do Checklist at the back of this booklet is also provided
for this purpose.
All checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and safe deposit boxes
in the name of the deceased may be frozen upon notification of death. Even
if the accounts were in two names, the assets will remain frozen until a
valid will or determination of inheritance is produced. Once a chief
inheritor has been named, the appropriate accounts must be changed to the
correct name. If you are the surviving spouse or child, all the accounts
must be changed to your name before becoming valid.
You may want to change the name of your charge and credit card accounts,
especially if you and the deceased had joint accounts. In most cases, the
instructions for changing names will be on the billing statement. Contact
information is usually printed on the back of the card, as well.
Any property deeds held by a bank or savings and loan institution must be
transferred to the name of the inheritor. Call your loan officer to learn
how to make the changes.
Estate, Inheritance and Other Taxes
Estates generally are subject to taxation from two sources: federal estate
tax and state inheritance tax. If the total value of the estate exceeds
limits set by the government, there is the potential of federal estate
taxes. This tax is subject to several exceptions, deductions and
exemptions, which can be quite complicated. A surviving spouse is entitled
to a federal estate tax marital deduction on estate assets received. Use
of this deduction will minimize federal estate taxes. Check with the
Internal Revenue Service or a tax attorney for information on eligibility.
Most states levy an inheritance tax, which is somewhat different from the
estate tax, but also has numerous exceptions and deductions. You can
receive more information from your stateís revenue department.
Federal estate taxes must be filed within nine months to avoid penalties.
This makes it important to begin determining the amount due, if any, so
you can file within the deadline.
Filing federal estate tax returns and other matters involving estate and
inheritance taxes generally can be handled by an attorney who is familiar
with estate planning and probate work.
Mutual Funds, and/or Stocks and Bonds
Any such holdings in the deceasedís name must be changed to the
inheritor's name. Check with your banker or broker if you own such assets.
Trusts and Trust Funds
Any trust funds would have been arranged through the deceased's bank
officer and attorney. Check with them to see if trusts exist.
Automobile Title and Licensing
The title and license registration of the automobiles owned by the
deceased must be changed to the name of the person who inherits the
vehicles. Make an inquiry in writing to the licensing and title division
in your state. Each situation is unique, and each state has different laws
governing this procedure. Whenever you make inquiries in writing, be sure
to keep a copy for your records.
If the car title is still held by a bank, responsibility for paying the
remaining portion of payments also falls to the person inheriting the
Utilities, Telephone, and Other Household Accounts
A call or written request to your utility and telephone companies is
usually sufficient to have the name on the accounts changed. In some
cases, you will need to sign a new signature card at a local office. Many
widows choose to have their telephone directory listing under the
deceased's name. This can be done if requested after changing the billing
name. Initials may also be used in a listing in place of a first name if
it makes you more comfortable.
PERSONAL HEALTH & SAFETY
Your personal well-being and safety are the highest priority. Maintaining
your health and creating a comfortable, safe environment are two of the
most important things you can do to assure a satisfying life after the
death of someone you love.
Experts have shown that stress can impact your health and that the months
following bereavement are a high-risk time for survivors. It is,
therefore, important to be aware of the danger and to take steps to
alleviate as much stress as possible as you begin to reorganize your life.
To start with, make a point to eat right, get plenty of sleep, and take
care of any health problems you may be having. It can be difficult to take
care of yourself when you have so many changes to attend to, but if you
are conscious of your own needs, it will be helpful in maintaining your
Personal safety also needs to be addressed, both within and outside your
home. Further in this section you will find practical advice for
accomplishing these things.
Medicare, Medicaid and Health Insurance Supplements
Medical costs can be a significant expense, and few of us, regardless of
financial status, are able to shoulder the entire burden. Fortunately,
assistance is available.
Medicare. Medicare is the government's health
insurance plan for everyone over the age of 65 and, in some cases,
disabled persons under 65. The best time to file for Medicare is three
months before your 65th birthday. To apply, you will need to take proof of
age to your local Social Security office.
Part A of Medicare is provided at no cost to participants. It
defrays some of the costs of hospital stays, nursing homes, diagnostic
services, home nursing care and psychiatric care.
Part B of Medicare is a voluntary program for which you pay monthly
premiums at a low cost compared with private health plans. Part B also
includes coverage for surgery and other in-patient and out-patient
Medicaid. A common misconception about Medicaid is that its use is
restricted to welfare recipients. While it is true that Medicaid provides
health care to anyone at any age whose income is at or below poverty
level, Medicaid also provides coverage for persons over 65 whose Medicare
has been exhausted by illness. Check to learn your state's eligibility
requirements. For more comprehensive information on Medicare Parts A and
B, contact your local Social Security Administration office.
For Medicaid information, contact your stateís public
assistance or social services department. If you are over 65 and have not
yet filed for benefits, do so immediately. Medicare Part A can be
retroactive to 12 months from the date of application; Part B is not
A note of caution: Medicare was designed as a base for partial
coverage, and payments do not provide all the health insurance protection
you will need.
Supplemental Insurance. Even with a supplemental health care plan,
you may have some out-of-pocket health and medical expenses. A carefully
chosen supplement, however, can certainly help to lower the cost of
If you do not currently have a health insurance plan, check with several
reputable insurance agencies. You will want to compare several different
plans. Only you can best determine how much you can afford and what types
of coverage will be most beneficial to you. You may want to consider a
group plan through an employer or a professional organization to which you
belong. Group plans can help to lower your premium payments significantly.
It is sometimes possible for survivors to remain on the deceased's group
health plan for a period of time after the death. This may sustain you or
your dependent children until you obtain employment and have access to a
good health insurance plan of your own.
For information on obtaining health insurance coverage, call your state
health insurance department office or check the Yellow Pages of your
You may seem to be having more health problems or you just may not feel
well during the first few months of bereavement. This is common due to the
stress of adjusting to life without someone you love and the restructuring
of your life. It is advisable to make an appointment with your family
physician even if you are feeling well. The physician can give you a
complete check-up and prescribe medication if warranted. If you do not
have a physician, now is the time to find one.
An excellent way to find a good doctor in your area is to ask for a
referral from the nearest medical school. If you lack this type of
facility in your community, you might call a local hospital or ask family
and friends for the name of a good practitioner. Keep in mind that you
need a doctor you are comfortable talking to, as well as a good
diagnostician. While no doctor will be able to listen to all of your
adjustment problems, he or she should be aware of the changes in your life
in order to have an accurate and comprehensive picture of your health.
If your doctor prescribes medication for a particular condition, take it
for the full length of the prescribed dosage. It is easy to discontinue
the use of a medication once your symptoms diminish, but your doctor has
used his or her best judgment in prescribing the length of time it should
be taken, and you should always follow these directions.
Be certain to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking.
Under no circumstances should you take someone else's medication.
Medications can strengthen or weaken the intended effect, or can combine
to form toxic substances, some of which can be extremely dangerous. If you
have any questions or concerns, you should contact your physician.
Some prescriptions for brand name drugs may be filled with a generic drug
containing the same active ingredients. Always request that your doctor
indicate when a substitution may be used. Then tell your pharmacist that
you would like the least expensive alternative available. The savings will
Mixing Alcohol and Sedatives
Warning: Alcohol and sedatives are both central nervous system
depressants. If you are depressed, anxious or generally down in the dumps,
no depressant is going to help you climb out. While alcohol or sedatives,
or worse a combination of the two, might help you to relax and fall asleep
at night, they can be dangerous. In fact, combining alcohol and
sedatives can even be fatal, and neither will relieve the problems you may
be experiencing. Also, both alcohol and sedatives can interrupt the normal
sleep patterns you need to allow your body and mind to rest; and both can
create a psychological dependency.
Your physician will rarely prescribe sedatives for more than a limited
amount of time, unless the anxiety or lack of sleep you are experiencing
is threatening your long-term mental or physical health.
Exercise and fresh air are nature's best tranquilizers. A regimen of
physical exercise has no bad side effects. If you have a medical condition
or physical limitations, or if you are over age 40, check with your
physician before starting any new exercise program.
Swimming, jogging, membership in a local YMCA or just walking briskly for
a period of time every day can be very beneficial. If you have the funds,
many private health clubs provide excellent facilities and supervision;
but read contracts and check prices carefully before signing.
Lynn Caine, author of the best-selling book Widow, found a solution
to sleepless nights with an exercise bicycle she kept in her bedroom.
Whenever she found herself tossing and turning, she'd get up and pedal
away until she found herself tired enough to sleep. You also might
consider investing in a bicycle that you can take for short pleasure rides
or use to run errands. It's an excellent alternative to driving, as well
as a good form of exercise.
With any new exercise routine, always start out slowly, or sore muscles
and possibly dangerous overexertion may put you out of commission. Plus,
if you overexert you will have trouble establishing a regular exercise
routine because of unnecessary strain and stiffness.
You may say that you donít feel hungry or that it is too much bother to
cook for yourself, but good nutrition and regular meals are important to
your overall health.
There are many cookbooks that feature appealing single-portion meals. Or
you can make big batches of casseroles, spaghetti sauce or other foods
that can be frozen in individual portions.
If you live alone, you may want to shop daily for perishables so that they
donít go to waste. Shopping is also a good way to get out of the house,
especially on those days when even getting out of bed seems too much
effort. Keep a stock of meal-for-one stews and soups on hand. Have
someone over for dinner on occasion---perhaps someone who also lives
alone--or make plans to go out for dinner. Eat in front of the television
or read while eating; but eat balanced meals. If you are on a restrictive
diet, make sure you are aware of what you can have and what you should
If you have trouble finishing large meals, eat smaller meals more
frequently or eat smaller portions on a smaller plate. This may make food
look more appealing to you. Establish a routine by eating at regular
intervals. This does not mean skipping meals during the day and then
eating a single meal late at night. Eating right before sleeping taxes
your digestive system and may interfere with your rest.
Personal Safety in the Home
This may be a new area of concern for you, particularly if you are living
alone for the first time. Check the locks on doors and windows, replacing
them if necessary. If you plan to be away from your house for an extended
period of time, stop the mail and newspaper services for that period of
time. Have a friend or relative check the premises periodically. You might
consider investing in a timing device that turns certain lights on
automatically each evening.
Keep telephone numbers for police and fire departments next to your
telephone, and donít be nervous about using them if necessary. Even if you
feel like an alarmist, it is better to be prepared than to wish you had
called after the fact.
You may want to install new smoke detectors and a new burglar alarm
system. Smoke alarms, in particular, are inexpensive and easy to install
with simple tools. If you smoke, do so in a chair with a light on. Never
smoke in bed. Use ladders to reach things, not boxes or chairs. Donít use
appliances with frayed cords, and donít overload outlets. Donít use
electrical appliances near wet surfaces. Know where your circuit breakers
are located, and keep candles or a flashlight handy in case of power
outages. Be cautious around throw rugs and in the bathroom. It also is a
good idea to keep the numbers of reputable repair services near the
telephone in case of household emergencies.
Personal Safety Away from Home
Whether you drive or walk to destinations outside your home, take well-traveled and well-lit routes. If you are in a car, keep your windows
rolled most of the way up and the doors locked. Have your house keys in
hand as you approach your door to avoid fumbling for them. Donít ever
carry or display large amounts of cash when making purchases. Carry purses
close to your body and wallets in inner coat pockets.
If you should ever be robbed, donít resist. Give up possessions or money
without argument or struggle. No amount of monetary loss is worth more
than the threat to your personal safety.
Be careful stepping down from curbs or walking in slick or wet weather.
And always drive defensively, watching for other drivers' mistakes. If you
feel it would be beneficial, you could take a driving refresher course
through a local community organization or senior citizens center.
HOUSING & TRANSPORTATION
It might seem like a good idea right now to give up the house you lived in
with the deceased simply to avoid painful memories, but making such a
major decision at this uncertain time may not be wise. Experts advise not
moving during the first year of bereavement. The memories may be painful
right now, but moving and giving up all those memories at once can be
equally as painful.
After a while, if you feel your present residence requires too much upkeep
or contains too much space, consider your choices carefully. Contact a
real estate broker and have your home appraised to determine its present
value. Look at the pros and cons of apartment or condominium living, if
you donít want the upkeep of a single-family dwelling. Keep in mind that
by renting, you may be giving up some of your privacy and quiet, as well
as a yard and the opportunity to build further equity in your home.
If you decide to rent, consider the neighborhood and accessibility
carefully, and read all contracts or leases thoroughly so there are no
unpleasant surprises later.
As for household maintenance, the responsibility is yours as long as you
own the property. Learn to do small maintenance chores yourself, or pay
someone to do repairs for you. You should not expect friends or relatives
to do them for you for free. You also may find satisfaction in handling
maintenance on your own.
You may be faced with the responsibility of owning, operating and
maintaining a car for the first time. If you have a mechanic who has
worked on your car in the past with no negative incidents, continue using
that person, as that mechanic will know your car and its history. Keep a
record of all repairs, oil changes and maintenance.
You may want to buy
another new or used car. If so, shop carefully. If necessary, take along a
friend or family member who knows what to look for, and take a used car to
a mechanic you trust before purchasing it. Always take into account
mileage, repair records and the resale value of any car you are
There are transportation alternatives for non-drivers. Most middle-to
large-sized cities have public transportation systems that vary in
efficiency and cost. There also are volunteer groups that sometimes
provide transportation to non-driving seniors, with priority given for
medical care recipients.
If you have a friend or neighbor who shops at the same shopping center or
grocery store you do, offer to share the cost of gas and go together. This
will also assure that you shop on a regular basis and keep well-stocked
CAREERS, VOLUNTEERISM & CONTINUING EDUCATION
Once your affairs are in order, you may find that you have more time on
your hands than you've had in the past. Starting a new career,
volunteering in your community or continuing your education are some of
the options that might interest you.
Your finances may make it necessary for you to work, or it may just seem
like a good idea. If you were employed before your loss, it is probably
best to keep your current job for a while. The necessity of going to work
every morning, even on bad days, can help put your life back into
perspective. Changing jobs immediately is another potential situation for
stress and adjustment. Chances are, you have enough stress and adjustment
for the time being.
Starting a new job can be a frustrating time. If you are entering the job
market for the first time or re-entering it after a lengthy absence,
realize that, mixed with plenty of good days, there also will be some bad
ones. But donít get discouraged; youíll soon get the hang of it.
Even if you are already earning Social Security benefits, you can still
work and earn a limited sum without forfeiting your benefits.
One of your concerns about returning to work may be the limitations on
employment based on your age. There are laws to help you in this area. The
Age Discrimination in Employment Act, passed in 1976, prohibits employers
of 25 or more from refusing to hire, discharging or in any way
discriminating against persons based solely on age.
If you are not sure how to start looking for a job, contact your state's
local employment service or, if you are over 65, a senior citizens'
service in your community. Ask friends or a former employer for
suggestions, or advertise your skills in a local newspaper. If you try to
find employment through private employment agencies, you may be required
to pay a fee if they locate a job for you, although oftentimes the
employer will pay the fee.
Perhaps you are living comfortably on your
income, but would like to be more active. Volunteering is an excellent and
meaningful way to get into a social situation, while helping your
community at the same time. Talk to leaders of religious or civic
organizations, local hospitals or schools, or children's homes. They can
tell you who needs help and where you can best put your interests and
skills to work. If traditional volunteer work doesnít appeal to you, check
with your local theatre group, garden club or senior citizen center. Many
communities have organizations that match volunteers with specific
community needs. Consult your Yellow Pages under "Volunteer."
It's never too late to go back to school and further your education.
Perhaps there is a course of study you always wanted to pursue or one you
didnít complete. There also may be areas you want to brush up on for
career purposes. Vocational and for-credit classes on both high school
and college levels are available in most communities. Many times, grants
are available for those aged 65 and older, people with limited incomes or
raising dependent children, and those with special interests and skills.
Your best starting point is a community college, where you can pick up a
list of available courses and information on financial assistance.
LEISURE & RECREATION
You need to give yourself time for recreation as well as work. You may
find that friendships you shared before your loss are no longer satisfying
or comfortable, or that you need to develop some new relationships and
Donít be afraid to take the initiative by inviting acquaintances to your
home, to a movie or to join you at a community function. Seek out clubs
that sponsor the kinds of recreation you enjoy or in which you would like
Learn to entertain yourself. While the amount of enjoyment from pursuing
independent interests varies from person to person, many find a certain
satisfaction from doing things by themselves. Alone and lonely are not the
same, and you may find you can entertain yourself as well as others can.
A problem you may encounter is friends and even family members pressuring
you to develop romantic relationships before you are ready. These people
may seem overbearing, but they have your best interests at heart. Donít be
afraid to give them a firm "No" when they attempt to introduce you or pair
you up with other singles. It's best not to date until you are
comfortable. Some never are.
If/when you do start dating again, you may find your grown children
expressing disapproval, or they may try to pressure you into dating. Even
young children can play matchmaker. It is easy to be influenced by family
regarding what you want, especially during a time of confusion. Keep the
lines of communication open, and make sure your family understands your
Eventually you may consider remarriage, but be sure to take your time.
Donít let the loneliness felt in the first few months push you into a
relationship you'll regret later. Recovering from a loss is a slow
process. Give yourself enough time to resolve your grief or you may find
yourself comparing your late spouse to your present spouse, which can
undermine the relationship.
Once you give single living a chance, you might decide remarriage isnít
for you. Many widows and widowers find that, after a period of adjustment,
they enjoy their freedom and new sense of independence.
Above all, donít let your friends and family run your life for you. It is,
after all, your life, and it's up to you to make it the best life
YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CHOICES
Perhaps the previous sentence is the key to this entire booklet: It's
your life. It should be lived in whatever fashion and lifestyle you
choose. It may not always be perfect, but it's well worth the living if
you have patience and confidence. Make decisions at your own pace, and
take the steps necessary for your own recovery. The amount of time needed
to resolve your grief is a highly personal matter, and the healing process
happens slowly over time.
Donít tell yourself that by now you "should" have recovered from your
loss. Experts tell us the first year after bereavement is the most
difficult, especially during holidays and anniversaries. After the first
year, things will gradually become easier.
As a part of your estate planning, you may consider the idea of funeral
pre-arrangement. Pre-arrangement is the planning of a funeral service
before the time of need. There also are pre-arrangements that include
pre-payment, if that will make you feel more comfortable. Either kind of
pre-arrangement can be beneficial by:
|Relieving family and friends of numerous decisions at
a time of need;|
|Being transferable if you move; and|
|Leaving a written guide to be followed, eliminating
With pre-paid funeral pre-arrangements:
|Funds are set aside now to pay for future funeral
|Funds grow to offset the effects of inflation,
eliminating added future expense.|
Pre-arrangements are easy to make. Simply call your
funeral director and make an appointment to discuss your options.
POST-FUNERAL TO-DO CHECKLIST
This checklist is provided to help you keep track of the many tasks
mentioned in this booklet that you may need to complete following your
Filing for Benefits:
|Social Security Administration|
|Department of Veterans Affairs|
|Retirement or Pension Funds|
|Professional or Fraternal Organizations|
|Wills and Estates|
Additional Paperwork (notification of death and name
|Safe Deposit Boxes|
(savings and loan/titles and deeds to property)
|Estate, Inheritance and Other Taxes|
(federal and state taxes: estate and inheritance)
|Mutual Funds and/or Stocks and Bonds|
|Trusts and Trust Funds |
|Automobile Title and Licensing |
|Utilities, Telephone and Other Household Accounts|
Personal Health & Safety
|Application for Medicare or Medicaid, if needed|
|Supplemental health insurance|
|All prescriptions updated or disposed of if date has
|Regular eating habits maintained and kitchen stocked
with staple foods|
|Daily exercise routine started (i.e., walking daily)|
|Locks on windows and doors checked|
|Fire, police and ambulance numbers posted by
|Throw rugs, tiles, stairs, checked for slippery spots|
|All light switches in working order|
|Burglar and smoke alarms installed and working|
|Furnace filters changed and furnace checked|
|Automobiles in good working order and maintenance
|Insurance (change of beneficiary/update policies)|
PERSONAL INFORMATION RECORD
You can download a printable form for your individual
personal history. It will provide your family, funeral director
and/or attorney with information that will be needed after your death to
complete funeral arrangements and to expedite benefit claims.
||Click on the picture to the left to view and/or
print the form
||You will need the Adobe Acrobat reader to view
the form. If you do not have it, click the picture on the left
to download a free copy.
OTHER OGR (Order of the Golden Rule) RESOURCES
(Click on the title to order a printed copy)
Healing Your Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas By Dr. Alan D.
Healing the Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families, Friends
and Caregivers By Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Healing Your Grieving Heart for Teens: 100 Practical Ideas By Dr. Alan
D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Healing the Grieving Teen's Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families,
Friends and Caregivers By Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Healing Your Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Kids By Dr. Alan
D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Healing the Grieving Child's Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families,
Friends and Caregivers By Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
To order any of these books, please contact the International Order of the
Golden Rule (OGR) at (800) 637 8030. You can also order these and other
books from OGR online at
Consumer's Guide to Health Care, The, Chisaru, Nakamura & Thorup
Consumerís Handbook, The, Fargis (Hawthorne)
Fight Back! And Don't Get Ripped Off, Horowitz (Harper & Row)
Growing Older, Huyck (Prentice Hall)
Looking Ahead: A Womanís Guide to the Problems and Joys of Aging,
Trull, Israel & Israel (Prentice Hall)
New Consumer Survival Kit, The, Geige (Boston, Little)
Other Generation, The, Jones (Prentice Hall)
Time to Enjoy: The Pleasure of Aging, A, Dangott, Kalish (Prentice
Death and Dying
Death: The Final Stage of Growth, Kubler-Ross: (Prentice-Hall)
Experience of Dying, The, Pattison (Prentice Hall)
They Need to Know How, How to Teach Children About Death, Gordon &
Moss (Prentice Hall)
To Live Until We Say Goodbye, Kubler-Ross (Prentice Hall)
Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs, The, Long (Harper & Row)
Peoples' Pharmacy The, Graedon (St. Martinís)
Prescription Drugs and Their Side Effects, Starn (Grossett)
Without Prescription, Dyan (Simon & Schuster)
Complete Guide to Estate Planning, Gayan (Prentice -Hall)
Home Maintenance and Safety
Fix-It Book, The, Symons (Wilshire)
How to Fix Damn Near Everything, Peterson (Prentice-Hall)
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition, Reuben (Simon
I Hate to Cook Book, The, Bracken, (NYT Book Co.)
Gourmet Cooking For One (or More), Paris (Atheneum)
Letís Eat Right to Keep Fit, Davis (Harcourt)
Let's Get Well, Davis (Harcourt)
Sugar Blues, Dufty (Chilton)
Stress and Crisis Management
Awakening: Ways to Psycho-Spiritual Growth, Henderson
Dealing With Crisis, Calhoun, Selby & King (Prentice-Hall)
I Know Whatís Wrong, But I Don't Know What To Do About It,
Goldstein, Spraflere & Gershaw (Prentice-Hall)
Managing Anxiety, Koestenbaum (Prentice-Hall)
Relaxation Book, The, Rosen (Prentice-Hall)
Single, Strein (Prentice-Hall)
||If you would like a printed version of this
book, please stop by the funeral home and
pick up a free copy.