Each year, the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy reminds us how fragile life is and how quickly tragedy can strike. The unexpected death of a loved one is a personal tragedy that affects people deeply and permanently. Learning of a loved one’s untimely passing can make people feel lost and overwhelmed.

Stages Of Grief

In the late 1960s, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross first introduced the world to the concept of stages of grief. While we do seem to move through these stages, the pace is different for everyone. The human ability to deal with death is often related to how much experience we have with death at a particular stage in our lives. The following are some tools for coping with an unexpected death:

Embrace religious and cultural rituals

Rituals are designed to help us along the road of acceptance. Rituals can be immensely comforting and carry with them a familiar pattern that has ushered countless generations of survivors from shock and grief to coping and return to normal routine.

Release expectations

People mourn in different ways and at varying paces. There is no correct way. It is normal to feel numb, and it is equally normal to cry uncontrollably. Accept every reaction both in yourself and in others around you.

Talk about it

Discussing the details of your loved one’s sudden demise can help you absorb the shock and move more quickly through the stages of grief.

Seek grief counseling

After a period of mourning has passed, if you do not feel you are able to return to your normal routine, you might benefit from counseling. Psychotherapy and grief counseling offer tools for coping with the emotional material triggered by the passing of a loved one that can sometimes interfere with normal functioning.

Action you might need to take right away

Unfortunately, at a time when you want nothing more than to process your own feelings, there are details you might need to attend to within hours of your loved one’s parting. These might include:

  • Locating a will — Your loved one might have included wishes regarding burial or cremation, organ donation and funeral details.
  • Making funeral arrangements — If the decedent did not indicate a preference, use your best judgment as to what would be appropriate.
  • Donating organs — If the decedent’s wishes are not known, you might have to make this decision along with hospital personnel within hours of death.
  • Informing family and friends — Ask for help and delegate calls to anyone who volunteers to help.

People can do a great favor for their loved ones by creating a will, signing and updating their wills and other estate planning documents. Contact our estate planning attorneys for assistance.

Anthony Lamberti on G+