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Where do I start? Practical considerations for Catholics faced with the loss of a loved one

“Where do I start?”  Faced with the loss of a loved one, family members often grapple with taking the first steps. Families want to know that their loved one will be respectfully cared for, even after death, by ensuring dignified treatment of all arrangements that takes into account Catholic beliefs, expectations and traditions.

When confronted with the question of where to start, consider whether the deceased has already made burial and funeral arrangements. If not, Catholic Cemeteries is one of the first calls to make. Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, provides experienced guidance, planning and support for families facing the unknown of funeral and burial planning. The counselors at Catholic Cemeteries can help with making decisions that are less costly (for example, choices related to entombment and to caskets or urns). The counselors also give families an understanding of all the decisions that go into preparing a Catholic funeral and burial and personally walk the family through the multitude of considerations that must be addressed.

After contacting Catholic Cemeteries, a family member should contact a licensed funeral director to arrange the funeral. The funeral director will arrange such necessities as transporting the body, obtaining a death certificate, preparing the obituary, and arranging the visitation, funeral mass and committal service. Both Catholic Cemeteries and the funeral director can offer helpful grief support resources for the bereaved.

Follow up with the employer of the deceased. The employer can apprise the family of the deceased’s benefits, any pay due, insurance eligibility for dependents, and steps related to life insurance policies. If the deceased had a life insurance policy aside from work (such as through a union, professional service organization, or private insurance), follow up with the insurance agent or company to file a claim. Additionally, the Social Security Administration should be notified of the death, and benefits eligibility for dependents can be addressed at this time.

A variety of important paperwork, including the will or trust, should be gathered and processed once funeral and burial arrangements are begun. Settling the estate, executing the will, filing a final tax return, closing bank accounts, and reconciling any loans such as mortgage or vehicle all will be important tasks to consider within the process.

The emotional stress of losing a loved one is often compounded by the financial and legal stress of making arrangements and settling private affairs. Grief counselors and clergy can support family and friends during this difficult time. Pre-planning for the funeral and burial can also help alleviate stress by reducing the myriad of decisions and ensuring that the wishes of the deceased are understood and carried out. Catholic Cemeteries counselors help many families before their time of need. Those who want to plan their own funeral and burial and make the decisions for themselves can find beneficial resources and counselors at Catholic Cemeteries.

Would you like to share a comment, question or experience regarding pre-planning? Visit our Facebook page, @cathcemks, to join the conversation. Or, send me an email at [email protected].

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