The unexpected deaths of gifted chef and storyteller Anthony Bourdain, 61, and iconic fashion designer Kate Spade, 55, are prompting discussions about mental health. They are also a reminder that a sudden death can affect families in unexpected ways. Accidents, heart disease, stroke and suicide are among the most common leading causes of death nationwide, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Regardless of the cause, an unexpected death has a huge impact on a family mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. Below are a few factors to consider during the grieving process:
1. Mental Health
Coping with the loss of a loved one may be one of the hardest challenges that many of us face. When we lose a spouse, sibling or parent our grief can be overwhelming. Loss is understood as a natural part of life, but we can still be overcome by shock and confusion, leading to prolonged periods of sadness or depression. Grieving is an important process in order to overcome these feelings while being thankful for the time you had with your loved one.
Grieving individuals may find it useful to use some of the following strategies to help come to terms with loss:
- Talk about the death of your loved one with friends and colleagues in order to understand what happened and remember your friend or family member.
- Accept your feelings. People experience all kinds of emotions after the death of someone close. Sadness, anger, frustration and even exhaustion are all normal.
- Take care of yourself and your family. Eating well, exercising and getting plenty of rest help us get through each day and move forward.
- Help others dealing with the loss. Helping others has the added benefit of making you feel better as well. Sharing stories of the deceased can help everyone cope.
- Remember and celebrate the lives of your loved ones. Possibilities include framing photos of fun times, passing on a family name to a baby or planting a garden in memory.
Make sure that you get the support and help that you need as you grieve. “A supportive group of friends and family can make all the difference,” said Amy Moran, author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.” She also said that not everyone needs treatment to deal with grief; for some, a support group or religious community will provide what they need to heal.
2. Avoid Big Decisions for a Period of Time
It can be tempting to make big life changes immediately, but advisors and counselors say to wait. “When you are grieving you are not thinking clearly and when you are sad or anxious you could make a decision you will regret later,” states Moran. If you do need to make a big financial decision, Moran said to seek the advice of a financial advisor or another objective third party to help weigh the pros and cons.
3. Get Organized
Secure financial and legal documents as well as important items like the deceased’s wallet, keys and phone.
Locate the will, if there is one. If a personal representative is named, it is his or her responsibility to take charge.
Having organized legal and financial documents will help you prioritize expenses going forward, including funeral arrangements and the family budget. Finding an expert, like an attorney or financial planner, will be instrumental. “Someone with experience is going to be very helpful in this situation,” said Douglas Boneparth, president of Bone Fide Wealth in New York City. They can “balance the quantitative side, but also hold the hand of the grieving spouse, child or family member.”
If you have recently experienced the loss of a loved one, or have any inheritance questions, contact OC Estate and Elder law at (954) 251-0332 or firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with a compassionate attorney during a difficult time.