When a Spouse Dies Suddenly

What do you do when your spouse dies suddenly? First, contact medical or other authorities. Then call a friend, neighbor, or relative to be with you as soon as possible. As other loved ones arrive, have someone stay with you as much as possible.

Call your doctor and advise him or her of your loss. You might need a prescription to calm your nerves and help you

Making Funeral Arrangements

If you and your spouse had preplanned funeral services, contact the funeral home or the memorial society. If not, decide on a memorial service and a final resting place for your spouse. Choose a local funeral home. Ask friends for recommendations.

Notify family and friends, clubs and organizations. If you are providing transportation and lodging for people
from out of state to attend the service, keep receipts of those expenses.

Write and Publish an Obituary

Funeral homes often assist you with this task.

If your spouse was a veteran, no-cost burial arrangements and other benefits may be available for the funeral. The funeral
director or a loved one can contact the Veterans Benefits Administration at 1-800-827-1000 or go online to www.va.gov.

Make your wishes known for any service or memorial arrangements.

Designate a friend or family member to keep track of the guestbook, donations, flowers, and cards. Have someone else take all phone calls and let you know who is calling.

Order Ten Death Certificates

Order at least ten death certificates through the funeral director.

Ask a neighbor, security service, or the police to keep an eye on your home while you are at the services.

Take time for yourself and rest. Ask others to help you with things you need. Don’t be afraid to ask—you need the help.

When Handling Financial and Estate Planning

Contact your accountant or financial planner, if you have one, to review your cash flow and expenses. Be sure your bills will be covered for the next three to six months. When a spouse dies suddenly, cash-flow is often a concern.

Contact your estate planning attorney and/or trustee to begin whatever legal process is required. If you are not the estate executor or trustee, notify that person so an inventory of your spouse’s property can be taken. Do not distribute any property or assets to any family or friends at this point.

Begin collecting information so you can apply for various survivor benefits, such as Social Security, veterans’ benefits,
employee benefits, life insurance policies, and annuity contracts.

If your spouse had a safe deposit box in his name alone, have the executor or trustee arrange to open it. This will require a
copy of the death certificate, which takes time to obtain.

Do not pay any bills incurred by your spouse out of your personal account. The estate is responsible for settling with
all creditors. However, if there are bills such as a mortgage payment on your home, be sure these are paid. Discuss which
bills should be paid versus which ones should not with your accountant, financial planner, or attorney.

Take Care of Yourself

Develop a daily routine devoted to your well-being. When a spouse dies suddenly, your recovery may accellerate through exercise, meditation, yoga, and/or prayer are all soothing.

Seek support from friends and family. Pay attention to what you eat and to making sure your nutrition is good.

Get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Poor sleep routines and an inadequate amount of sleep have been associated with
unhealthy life adjustment after loss.

Develop a To-do List

Create a calendar for your Now, Soon, and Later lists.

Open new accounts in your name before closing those of your spouse.

Do not rush to tell banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions about your spouse’s death—they may
freeze those accounts. You may lose rewards points as well.

Review your own estate plan as well as assets and liabilities with your estate planning attorney and/or financial planner. Update documents and beneficiaries as necessary. Re-title joint accounts.

It’s a Journey

Decide where to deposit various proceeds such as life insurance benefits and recurring income.

Work with both your personal support team and professional
advisors as you move through this period.

Remember: You are on a journey. The resting places and restarts are part
of your path.

This article was adapted from Amazon.com : widows guide to healing


Kristin Meekhof

Kristin A. Meekhof is an author, life coach, writer and obtained her M.S.W. from the University of Michigan. She has more than 20 years of clinical experience. A nationally recognized expert on resiliency and gratitude, her best-selling book, A Widow’s Guide to Healing, was inspired by her own personal experience with widowhood, grief, and healing. A Korean-American adoptee, she was left on the streets of Korea as an infant. She came to the US in 1974 and became a naturalized citizen. Kristin’s best- selling book “A Widow’s Guide to Healing” received support from Dr. Deepak Chopra, Maria Shriver, Katie Couric, Dr. Mark Hyman , Pulitzer Prize winning author Doris Kearns- Goodwin, Lord Loomba, CBE, Elizabeth Gilbert, among others. Contact Kristin at kristin@kristinmeekhof.com. Visit her website at www.kristinmeekhof.com.

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