How-to Prepare for a Loved One’s End of Life

5. How can caregivers best enlist the help of friends and family?

Ask friends and family for help with specific tasks such as grocery shopping, preparing a meal or helping with laundry or childcare. If you know someone who enjoys reading, ask them to read to your loved one. Someone who enjoys cooking may be happy to prepare a meal for you and your family.

6. What should I do right after someone passes away?

Your loved one’s remains do not have to be moved immediately. Any action taken should be consistent with your deceased loved one’s final wishes. Family members and caregivers may want to say final goodbyes, talk or pray before proceeding with final arrangements.

7. When and how does a death become official?

As soon as possible after your loved one passes away, a person with legal authority should “pronounce” the death, like a healthcare provider or hospice nurse. They will complete the forms certifying the cause, time and place of death. Pronouncing the death is required for an official death certificate to be prepared. A death certificate is a legal form that is required for many reasons including filing a life insurance claim and settling financial and property issues. If your loved one’s passing happens at home without hospice, contact a healthcare provider, local coroner or medical examiner, health department or a funeral home representative and ask how to proceed.

8. What resources are available to help my family manage grief?

Many resources exist including hospice providers, bereavement support groups, books and websites. A trained counselor can provide therapy, or your religious or spiritual advisor can help you process your grief and accept your loss.

9. What support exists for caregivers?

Community-based services can supplement the support of family caregivers. They may offer companionship visits, meal programs, caregiver respite, adult day care services and transportation. To find community-based support services, contact the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 or visit

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