After a Death Occurs, Take Your Time

by MSO

Ryan Lee is a funeral consultant and owner of Ryan M. Lee, Mortuary Consultants in California.

When a loved one dies it is common for individuals to feel overwhelmed, confused, or to otherwise be mentally preoccupied, it is also at this time that some individuals are placed in the situation that requires them to take on some amount, if not all of, the responsibility for making final arrangements. It is at this critical time that I suggest that you take your time.

When a loved one has died, the worst has already occurred. There is rarely the need or an advantage to rushing through the final arrangement process before you are both emotionally and mentally prepared to make, what on average, will be the third largest purchase during your life.

On my book’s website, , I have listed my contact information. It is not uncommon for me to receive calls to discuss a death that has just occurred. The people who call me are not seeking discounts or assistance in shopping, each call that I have received is from a person who does not know what they need to be doing. They are shocked and also relieved to learn that at this very moment, they do not have to be doing anything.

I recently received a call after a man in his early fifties had died of a heart attack. The recent widow’s brother called me. He was looking for any help that he could find to provide his grieving sister with comfort and peace. I could sense his relief when he found that time was not an issue. Look back in recent history. Notable deaths illustrate this point perfectly. Weeks passed from the time Michael Jackson died, to the time he was interred at Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery. When soul singing legend James Brown died, months passed before he was placed in his final resting place.

The brother-in-law of the deceased asked me an hour’s worth of questions and felt empowered and reassured by the end of our call. Through our conversational exchange I learned the details of his brother-in-law’s death. The heart attack occurred a couple of days after his daughter’s wedding and that the incident occurred while he was at work. This was an important piece of information. Since the death occurred at work, even though of natural causes, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company should provide monetary relief. This offered some amount of financial assistance and a great deal of relief to the widow. The requirement of having to pay for a wedding and a funeral in the same week would overwhelm anyone.

While I encourage you to take some time, I caution you against putting off the responsibility of completing final arrangements in an effort not to face the reality of death. Some time may be needed for individuals to compose themselves sufficiently to complete the final arrangement process. This time should be taken. However, if an individual finds they are unable to cope, they must make suitable arrangements for another person to complete the funeral and disposition arrangements in their place.

Additionally, most funeral homes will not balk at putting off the arrangement conference for a day or two; this is not all that uncommon. However, in the case of Michael Jackson, his family spent a great deal of money in an effort to take their time. Some published reports indicated that his total funeral bill surpassed the $1million dollar mark. You can bet that storage and security fees added heavily to the fees. If you are asking a business to store the remains of a loved one for an indeterminate amount of time, be prepared to pay for such a service.

Furthermore, some decisions are prudent to make as close to the time of death as possible. A family has the option of selecting embalming, and I suggest if even considering this option, make that decision known as early as you are able to. There is no advantage to putting off this decision, and there are irreparable changes that occur after death that make it advantageous for consumers to select this option as early in the process as possible. This is just one decision, view it as such. Think of this one thing, and answer yes or no to it, after that, go back to attending to the needs of your family and yourself.

When taking time after a death has occurred be aware that certain tasks will need your assistance. However, very few decisions will truly need to be made urgently. Even the selection of which funeral service provider to employ can wait. Not forever, but long enough for you to make an informed decision. It is perfectly acceptable to look over the nurses’ station and say, “I will notify you once a decision has been made, I need to take some time to think.” No one can make you give them an answer, no matter how much they would like one, or how much easier it makes their job. Making things easy for the hospital or other institutions should not be your primary concern; they, after all, work for you. The same is true for funeral homes; the local funeral director can wait, and often won’t mind doing so.

By Ryan M. Lee

A Day in the Life of Death | Ryan M. Lee

Mortuary Consultant | Ryan M. Lee



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