NEXT STEPS

BURIAL ARRANGEMENTS
Print a list of what needs to happen in the next few days to make arrangements for your loved one

DEATH CERTIFICATE
This will be important for you to be able to take care of the deceased person’s affairs

PERSONAL BELONGINGS
Advice on when to remove and distribute

SUPPORT FOR THE DAYS AHEAD
The days ahead will become lonely once the service is over and all the family members have gone home

Loss Of A Parent

Losing a parent is never easy, even if they have lived a good, long life. It’s the ending of many life chapters, memories made and an unconditional love that’s difficult to let go of. If you were especially close to your parent, the idea that you can no longer talk with them is hard to process. Perhaps you spoke daily and still asked for advice? The lifeline is no longer there and you will miss this time of sharing, love and attention.

If you were a caregiver for your parent, the shock that you no longer have this responsibility is also something you will grieve. You may start to wonder what your purpose is now that they are gone. Or feel some guilt that you should have done more. This is all normal. Many people also feel that they are finally free to pursue dreams and ambitions that have been placed on hold. And with that may also bring a feeling of guilt. 

A parent that passes unexpectedly can create all kinds of questions about your future. How will I survive without my mother or father? What will my new life be like? And realizations that they won’t be there for significant events like perhaps your wedding or the birth of a newborn child. No matter the circumstances, we would be honored to walk beside you through the coming days, weeks and months.

Many older people have a plan in place for their burial arrangements. They have contracted with a funeral home and made all the tough decisions ahead of time so their children do not have to suffer through all the details. This information can likely be found with their Last Will and Testament. If this is true for you, count your blessings as they have saved you a lot of time and tears by being proactive about their service and burial.

If there is no plan in place, then the funeral home nearest their place of residence, or where they grew up, will be the best place to start. You’ll need to make an appointment to meet with them right away and begin the process of deciding how to honor your parent. Here is a Funeral Planning Checklist to help get you through your first appointment. We also have an Obituary Outline Worksheet for you to begin filling out, as there will be questions about how to create the “announcement” as well. It will be good for you to have some of this thought out and even discussed with other siblings and family members such as a remaining spouse. If the other parent is still alive and in good health, they will have a good feel for what their loved one would want when it comes to all the ways they can be honored.

The next decision will be about whether to hold their service at a church. If they attended a church regularly, then by all means, contact them and let them know that your parent has passed. Getting on their schedule for a special service will be something to consider when determining the visitation at the funeral home. Both events happen pretty close to each other, so once the dates and times are decided you can then focus on the funeral planning details and getting the word out. Remember, if there are other siblings or a remaining spouse, it is best to hold a family meeting and discuss all these decisions together. You are all grieving the loss so there are a lot of emotions swirling around and everyone deals with grief differently. Being patient with each other will be key. And giving everyone a voice will help make the plans even better and allow each person to feel they were a part of the final goodbye.

The death certificate will likely be filed by the Coroner and come to the home address of the deceased. This important document will be needed for all types of legal matters including the Will, banking arrangements and other contractual obligations by the deceased. You may want to go ahead and order additional certified copies depending upon how complicated their “affairs” may be and what you think will be needed to conclude these obligations. If there is a remaining spouse and they plan on staying in the home, the deed to the home will need to be transferred into their name. Same with a vehicle. And you will need certified copies of the death certificate for the institutions you will be dealing with. The person who has “power of attorney” will be the one who contacts all of the companies with which there were contracts.

Kentucky Vital Records issues certified copies of Kentucky death certificates and Kentucky marriage records for events which occurred in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. You may order copies of Kentucky vital records through VitalChek on an expedited basis. 

Going through your mother or father’s belongings will not only feel difficult, it may feel invasive. And making decisions about what to do with their belongings is even harder. In our opinion, if you have a sibling or remaining spouse in good health, do this together. And as you handle each item, think about what your mother or father would want you to do with it. Also, if this is something you can put off for a few months, that would be best. You’re in shock and it’s hard enough to navigate planning the funeral or life celebration. Give yourself (and others) some time to process what just happened and you’ll know later when it’s time to handle your loved one’s treasures and clothing.

However, if you must act quickly, here is a thought on how to handle many of the items that will be wanted by you and other family members. If the the items are of some sentimental or other value, like a collectible or piece of jewelry, it would be best to make a list of the items and later assign a value and who will receive them. You can place the items in tubs or boxes and include a copy of the contents list. And disperse the list to the people who should have “first right of refusal” for the most precious items, discovering who wants what.
If the person that passed was the remaining spouse, the job ahead will be much larger than cleaning out a closet, jewelry box and chest of drawers. Decisions about the house and contents will need to be made and could include auctioning off furniture, etc. For some families, this becomes a contentious time. Everyone is grieving and they all want something to remember the deceased by as well, as any items that may be up for grabs like collectibles, old photos, even dad’s favorite fishing pole. Unfortunately, it often gets ugly and family members bicker over the smallest of items. The Executor’s job (or person with power of attorney) is to make the final call on how all items are dispersed in the event there is no remaining spouse or that person in incapable of making sound decisions any longer. This is a big job and family members should honor and respect the person who has been assigned this responsibility.

Articles of clothing could be sorted and saved for a future memory quilt. Many families have these made to provide a source of comfort. Here is a list of people that provide this service:

Campus Quilt Company
(502) 968-2850

Quilted Joy
(502) 718-7148

The Cozy Quilter, Inc.
(502) 742-2699

There are several places to donate remaining articles of clothing, kitchen-related goods, books, etc. Here is a list of organizations that could benefit from your donations:

LifeBridge @ Southeast Christian Church: (502) 253-8146 and drop off site at 920 Blankenbaker Parkway

Wayside Christian Mission: (502) 582-2241 to schedule a pick up. Accepted items vary.

St. Vincent de Paul: Accepted items vary. (502) 589-7837

Goodwill: List of locations

Cedar Lake Pick-up Services: Accepted items vary. (502) 964-2411

Kentucky Refugee Ministries

Catholic Charities: Accepted items vary. (502) 636-9263

Dress for Success: Professional clothing—including purses, shoes, jewelry and other accessories. (502) 584-8050

Losing a parent can be devastating to the children and possibly the spouse left behind. You have worked through the difficult days of the funeral and the details involved with the loved one’s estate. Now, everyone’s emotional state needs attention, because the grief can be overwhelming and extremely difficult to handle.

Please consider the following positive ways to begin the healing journey:

    • Reach out to a trusted friend or family member and share your heart and thoughts. (If you don’t have a trusted companion, friend or family member we are here for you.)
    • Join a grief group.
    • Read books and magazines on the subject when you are ready. 
    • Speak to a counselor.
    • Call First Hour Grief Support. We are hear to listen.
    • Listen to podcasts.
    • Take care of yourself. Eat well. Exercise. Stay hydrated. Rest.
    • Journal your thoughts.
    • Blog or look for bloggers sharing their experience.
    • Try prayer and meditation.
    • Create special ways to remember your loved one.
    • As you work through the immediate grief and take active steps toward healing the heartache, eventually, clarity will come. The brain fog will lift and your heart will begin to heal from all the effort you’ve put in. It is then that you may feel comfortable finding ways to remember and honor your parent.

Below are some suggestions on ways to remember and honor your parent:

    • Set up a memorial fund.
    • Plant a tree or place a bench in their favorite park.
    • Volunteer at your parent’s favorite school, organization or non-profit.
    • Raise money for their favorite charity.
    • Write a book about your experience and dedicate it to your parent.
    • Start a blog as a child who lost a parent.
    • Create a special activity on his/her birthday.
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