Funeral Planning Tips: Tasks to Give Friends and Family

family help with funeral tasks One of the most difficult thing about mourning the loss of a loved one is the feeling of helplessness that inevitably arises. Immediate family is tasked with the job of planning the funeral, sorting through pictures, preparing for guests, and other funeral-related tasks—which might not be fun, but does have the advantage of keeping individuals busy while they grieve.

For more distant relatives and friends, however, not being able to do more than send flowers or a sympathy card is difficult. They want to feel needed and useful—not just to help the family through their difficulties, but so they can begin their own process of grieving.

When possible, take advantage of help as it is offered. Even if the task assigned to relatives is a small one, it can lighten your load and help others feel like a part of the funeral.

Telephone/Internet Duty: A personal phone call or social media message is necessary to ensure that everyone is informed of the death. Choose a close friend or relative who is willing to handle this kind of correspondence and answer any questions from well-meaning acquaintances.

Thank You Notes: Even if you’d prefer to write all the thank you notes yourself, have someone else keep a master list of what has been sent and who needs to be thanked.

Travel and Accommodations: If you will be having out-of-town guests in for the funeral, have someone take charge of food and lodging. Whether this means putting up guests to save on costs, contacting hotels for discounts, or coming up with an alternate plan, these tasks tend to require a big time commitment.

Home Maintenance: Ask someone to take over the task of house/yard maintenance for a few weeks. Knowing you don’t have to mow the lawn or fold laundry can help clear your head and reduce stress.

Casserole Dish Return: If food is pouring in from outside sources, ask someone else to be in charge of returning the items once they’ve been emptied and cleaned.

Child Care: Kids need extra attention during a loss, but you might not be up to the task of providing that attention. Ask a close friend of theirs to take them on outings, keep them overnight, or invite them over for a playdate to both give you time to grieve and to help your child work through his or her own sadness.

Pet Care: If the deceased had pets, they will need new loving homes. Look for “foster care” families willing to take charge of them for a few weeks or for family members willing to adopt.

Close Online Accounts: One of the more stressful tasks of losing a loved one is closing their online accounts (Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.). If you trust someone not to take advantage of the sensitive information, ask them to wade through the red tape and password resetting that has to take place to close these accounts.

Don’t be afraid to ask for any other assistance you might need as you plan the funeral and encounter obstacles. People tend to show their best colors during times of death and hardship, and you might be surprised at how willing everyone is to pitch in and lighten your burden.

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