When you lose a loved one, it can feel like the world has turned upside down. You’re grieving, but there are also many decisions to make and tasks to handle. It’s overwhelming, and in this challenging time, it’s easy to make mistakes. We want to help you worry less and breathe more, so we’re sharing what not to do when someone dies.

We’ve helped countless families navigate these tough moments. By sharing common mistakes, we hope to help you avoid them, making this period a little less stressful for you.

Let’s face it, none of us are prepared for this, and that’s okay. Together, we can take it step by step. We’ll cover everything from legal pitfalls to emotional missteps that people often make. This isn’t about pointing fingers or making you feel bad; it’s about offering a guiding hand. 

So, take a deep breath, and let’s walk through this together. You’ve got enough on your plate, and we’re here to help lighten the load.

What Not to Do When Someone Dies: 10 Common Mistakes

When someone dies, it’s an emotional and confusing time. You might feel overwhelmed with grief, making it easy to make mistakes.

Let’s talk about what not to do when someone dies so you can avoid common pitfalls and focus on what really matters: honoring your loved one and taking care of your family.

1. Not Obtaining Multiple Copies of the Death Certificate

You’ll need the death certificate for many things, including closing bank accounts and dealing with insurance. It’s crucial to get several copies to streamline the process.

Your funeral director will be happy to order as many copies as you may need.

You might think one copy is enough, but it’s not. Each institution, whether it’s a bank or an insurance company, usually requires an original, certified copy. Imagine having to go back and forth to get additional copies—it’s the last thing you want to deal with when you’re grieving.

So, to avoid unnecessary stress, get multiple copies from the start. It’s wise for each of the children to have a copy for possible future use. It is not uncommon for a death certificate (DC) to be needed some 5 or 10 years in the future to settle an unforeseen estate issue.  

It’s a simple step that can save you a lot of headaches later.

2- Delaying Notification of Death

It’s important to notify banks, credit card companies, and social security as soon as possible. Failing to do this can lead to complications with your loved one’s estate.

It’s crucial to contact the bank to close or transfer bank accounts. This prevents unauthorized transactions and ensures the funds are correctly handled according to the will or probate process.

Leaving bank accounts open and unfrozen can lead to unwanted withdrawals or deposits, complicating the estate administration. By promptly contacting the bank, you can secure the assets and ensure they are distributed according to your loved one’s wishes.

It’s one of those essential steps that, if overlooked, can cause significant issues down the line. This also helps prevent direct deposits, such as social security payments, that you’d need to return if received after the person passed.

Making these notifications promptly helps you manage the estate more efficiently and avoids any legal or financial complications down the road.

3- Not Knowing About a Preplan for Funeral Expenses

If your loved one had a preplan for funeral expenses, it can make a huge difference.

Preplanning helps manage costs and reduces the financial burden on the family. Many people don’t realize that their loved one engaged in preplanning and end up paying out of pocket. 

Knowing if a plan is in place allows you to contact the funeral home to activate it. This ensures that funeral expenses are covered as intended. It can also provide some peace of mind during a stressful time, allowing you to focus on what truly matters.

4- Not Understanding the Crucial Role a Funeral Director Plays

A funeral director is more than just someone who arranges the funeral. They can guide you through many aspects of the process, from organizing the service to handling paperwork. When you’re dealing with the death of a loved one, having a knowledgeable person by your side can be invaluable.

They can help coordinate with other service providers, manage the logistics, and ensure that everything goes smoothly. Involving a funeral director can significantly reduce stress and ensure that your loved one’s wishes are honored.

5- Letting Others Pressure You Into Bad Decisions

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when someone dies is letting others pressure you into decisions that might not align with your loved one’s wishes or your own sense of what is right. 

During such an emotional time, well-meaning friends, family members, or even acquaintances might offer advice or push for certain actions that don’t feel right to you. It’s essential to remember that you are the one who knew your loved one best, and you have the right to make decisions that honor their memory and your needs.

For example, someone might pressure you to spend more on the funeral than you’re comfortable with, suggesting that it’s necessary to show proper respect. However, it’s important to balance honoring your loved one with practical considerations like financial constraints. 

Funeral homes can provide various options that respect both your wishes and budget, helping you make choices that feel right without overspending.

Others might push you to rush through the grieving process or make hasty decisions about distributing belongings. Taking the time you need to grieve and think through these decisions is crucial. 

Funeral directors and counselors or chaplains at funeral homes understand this and can offer support and guidance to ensure you make decisions at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

In the end, standing firm on what you know is best for your loved one and yourself is important. Don’t let others’ expectations or pressures divert you from making thoughtful, respectful choices. 

Remember, this is a deeply personal process, and it’s okay to take your time and seek the support you need to make the right decisions.

6- Not Canceling Unnecessary Services and Bills

Canceling subscriptions, phone services, and other recurring bills is an important step after a person dies. It prevents unnecessary charges and helps manage the deceased’s finances more efficiently. 

Imagine having to deal with surprise charges for services no longer needed while you’re already dealing with grief. For example, if your loved one had a gym membership, magazine subscriptions, or streaming services, these should be canceled immediately. 

Additionally, contacting utility companies to stop services or transfer them to a responsible family member helps avoid additional expenses. This can save you from a lot of unnecessary hassle and help ensure that the estate’s funds are used appropriately.

If it’s too much to do on your own, don’t feel like you must do it alone. Find friends or family who can help you.do everything you’d need to tackle.

7- Failing to Secure Real Property

Ensure that any real property, like a house, is secured and maintained. When a person dies, their property can become vulnerable to vandalism or deterioration if not properly cared for. This can result in significant loss of value and additional stress for the grieving family. 

If the property will be vacant for a while, it’s wise to notify neighbors or hire someone to check on it regularly. Additionally, maintaining the property includes keeping up with yard work, repairs, and any necessary updates to prevent it from falling into disrepair. 

By securing and maintaining the property, you protect valuable assets and preserve cherished memories associated with the home.

8- Ignoring the Need for Professional Legal Help

Family members, beneficiaries, and any personal representative should be informed immediately. Keeping everyone in the loop can prevent misunderstandings and ensure a smoother process.

Understanding the probate process can save you a lot of headaches. If your loved one had a will, it generally needs to be submitted to probate court. If there is no will, the court will decide how to distribute assets using state intestate laws. In some cases, you can avoid the courtroom with a small estate settlement or an affidavit process.

Engaging an attorney who specializes in estate administration and probate is crucial. This ensures that you comply with the law and that the estate is handled correctly. Dealing with the legal aspects of a loved one’s death can be overwhelming, and trying to navigate the probate process without professional help can lead to costly mistakes.

An experienced attorney can guide you through trust administration or the probate court process, ensuring all legal requirements are met. They can help with distributing assets according to the will or state law, and resolving any disputes among family members. They can also help you manage any debts or estate liabilities.

Having a legal professional on your side can make this complicated process much more manageable.

9- Not Taking Care of Yourself: Ignoring Your Boundaries

When someone dies, it’s all too easy to let grief and stress take over, leading to a downward spiral of physical and emotional exhaustion. 

Caring For Your Needs

One common mistake people make is not taking care of themselves during this difficult time, ignoring their own boundaries and needs. Frequently, the Next of Kin has also been the sole source of care for the deceased, and it’s even more important at this point. 

It’s crucial to remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking care of yourself is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.

Grief Is Different For Everyone

Grief can manifest in many ways—lack of sleep, loss of appetite, and withdrawal from social interactions are common responses. 

You might find yourself so consumed with funeral arrangements, handling the estate, and supporting other family members that you forget to tend to your own well-being. 

Don’t Let Yourself Burn Out

Skipping meals, losing sleep, and isolating yourself can lead to burnout, making it even harder to cope with your loss.

Family strife often exacerbates this situation. The stress of navigating disagreements about funeral plans, inheritance, or other matters can add to your emotional burden. When everyone is grieving, tempers can flare, and misunderstandings can occur more easily. 

It’s vital to set boundaries and communicate openly with your family members. Let them know when you need a break or when you need help.

Listen to Your Body

Remember to listen to your body and mind. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to step back and take a moment for yourself. Simple things like eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, and taking short walks can significantly impact your well-being. 

Practice self-care by engaging in activities that you enjoy and that help you relax, whether it’s reading, gardening, or spending time with a friend.

Honor Your Loved One By Staying Healthy

In the end, taking care of yourself isn’t just about your own health; it’s also about honoring your loved one by staying strong and resilient. By maintaining your boundaries and prioritizing self-care, you’ll be in a better position to handle the responsibilities and emotions that come with losing someone dear to you.

10- Overlooking Emotional Support

Grief is a heavy burden, and it’s easy to overlook your own need for support during this time. Don’t ignore the importance of talking to family members, friends, or a counselor. It’s okay to ask for help, whether it’s sharing memories of your loved one, discussing your feelings, or just having someone to listen.

Grief can take a toll on your mental and physical health, and having a support system can make a significant difference. For example, consider joining a support group for grieving persons or seeking professional counseling to help navigate your emotions.

Remember, taking care of yourself allows you to be there for others and honor the memory of your loved one in a healthy and meaningful way.

Funeral homes can offer more than just services for the deceased; they can also provide support for the grieving. Many funeral homes have grief counselors on staff or can refer you to support groups and professional counselors who can help you navigate this challenging time.

Don’t hesitate to reach out for this support. Talking about your feelings with a counselor or a support group can provide much-needed relief and help you find ways to cope.

Understanding what not to do when someone dies can make a difficult time a little easier. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can focus on remembering your loved one and managing their estate with care and respect.

We Can Help

At Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory, we understand that the period following the death of a loved one is incredibly challenging. Our goal is to provide support, guidance, and services that help you navigate this difficult time with care and compassion. Here’s how we can assist you:

Comprehensive Funeral Planning

When someone dies, planning a funeral can feel overwhelming. Our experienced funeral directors are here to help you with every aspect of the service. Whether you need assistance choosing a casket, arranging a memorial, or managing logistics, we provide empathetic and professional support.

We offer various funeral and cremation services tailored to your needs, including traditional burials, green burials, and culturally specific ceremonies such as Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, and Veteran funerals.

Pre-Planning Services

Planning ahead can relieve your family of the emotional and financial burden of making arrangements at the time of death. Our pre-planning services allow you to make end-of-life decisions calmly and thoughtfully, ensuring your wishes are respected.

You can prepay for services at today’s prices, protecting against inflation and providing peace of mind for you and your family. We can help you set up a pre-need account with a third-party financial institution, ensuring that funds are secure and available when needed.

Grief Support Services

Grief is a natural and deeply personal experience, and having support can make a significant difference. We partner with Transitions GriefCare to offer comprehensive bereavement support, including individual counseling, support groups, and workshops.

These services are available at no cost to residents of several counties, regardless of whether Transitions LifeCare served the family. Our goal is to help you navigate your grief journey with compassion and understanding.

Handling Legal and Administrative Matters

Navigating the legal and administrative tasks after a loved one’s death can be daunting. We assist with the necessary paperwork and legal requirements, such as obtaining death certificates, notifying social security, and more.

By working with our knowledgeable staff, you can avoid common pitfalls and focus on what matters most—remembering your loved one.

Community and Educational Events

We believe in fostering a community that supports each other through life’s most challenging moments. Our Death Cafe events provide a safe space for people to discuss death, share experiences, and learn from one another. These gatherings help demystify death and encourage open conversations about end-of-life planning.

We also offer educational resources through our blog and workshops to help you understand the grieving process, cope with loss, and support others in their grief.

By choosing Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory, you are not just selecting a service provider; you are joining a community dedicated to supporting you through every step of your journey.

We are here to help you honor your loved one’s memory with dignity and compassion. Reach out to us, and let us assist you in this time of need.