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The first 24 hours of grief

What to expect when you mourn, from the experts at Lantern

19 April 2022 | Wellness

Lantern specializes in after-loss services, which provide guidance and support for navigating life before and after a death. For eligible Haven Term policyholders, a full pre-plan premium membership and one-on-one post-loss consulting services are available free of charge through the Haven Plus Rider, a suite of bonus services. Read more here.

Disclaimer: Funerals, cremations and funerals are regulated by individual states and laws vary. Check with your funeral home or cremation service before making plans.

Whether the death of a close relative was unexpected or the culmination of a long illness, it often comes as a shock. This shock means that, in the immediate aftermath, you may not think about things like how to plan a funeral or what the obituary should say. You will almost certainly not think about the logistics of navigating your loved one’s estate (if applicable), or how to take care of other bereaved loved ones financially. Your thoughts will be with these tasks right in front of you, such as simply taking you home from the hospital or if your phone is charged enough to notify your loved ones.

That’s why this guide is here. These are some basic things to expect in the first 24 hours after the death of a loved one. This is in a way a turning point – somehow the last step in a journey that is now coming to an end. But in other ways, this moment is the beginning of another journey, and these are some things to keep in mind.

In this article:

To receive an official death notice

If your loved one dies in a hospital, it is something that the doctor or nurse will handle to pronounce the time of death and register it as official. But if they are at home, there are some other scenarios. If your loved one has been in the care of a home hospice nurse, that person can make the statement. But if the death is sudden, you want to call 911 so that paramedics can either transport the deceased to a hospital or make an official declaration of death.

Please note that you also need an official death certificate if and when you make a life insurance claim.

Transport the body

After the official statement, you must arrange a morgue, funeral home or crematorium to retrieve the body, either from home or the hospital. If your loved one has planned and / or paid for funeral services in advance, the name of the funeral home should be kept somewhere easily accessible to you. Otherwise, you want to look for a funeral home or service in your area. Do not worry about choosing the first place you call – hospitals in most states will hold a body until you are ready to arrange with a funeral home. (Please note, this is not free of charge.)

Make the first phone calls

When someone dies, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the number of people who need to know. Friends, relatives, colleagues – where do you even start? It’s OK to wait a few days to start getting in touch with extended families and social networks and just focus on your immediate family and closest friends during the first day. Another person you want to note that you call fairly quickly is the deceased’s primary care physician, or, if they have undergone treatment for a chronic illness, their specialist caregiver. You may also want to call people you have meetings with within the next 24 hours, or who may be waiting for you at school or at work in the next few days.

Coordination of organ donation

If your loved one was a registered organ donor, you can expect to hear from the local organ donation organization within hours of registering the death. Although each organization varies in methodology, you should be prepared to answer questions about your loved one’s medical history and lifestyle. It’s OK if you do not have all the answers – everything you can say to OPO is useful for their process. It can be hard to talk about, but it’s a nice way to honor your loved one’s wishes. You can even get a follow-up message about how your loved one’s choice to donate their organs helped other people. And note, if your loved one asked to have their body donated to science, expect a similar process – and a similar good feeling when it comes to honoring their desires.

Round up documents?

You may be wondering if you should also collect important papers related to a life insurance policy. The good news is that there is no time limit for filing a life insurance claim – which means you can return to the latter, after taking care of more urgent needs. After all, this time is stressful enough.

If you are in crisis, you can get free mental health support around the clock from Crisis Text Line. Just send an SMS to 741741.

Learn more about how to use Haven Life Plus and Lantern for end-of-life planning.

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About Louis Wilson

Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide range of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children.

Read more by Louis Wilson

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency supported and wholly owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that it can be refreshingly easy to navigate decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall well-being.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency supported and wholly owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that it can be refreshingly easy to navigate decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall well-being.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not support the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less difficult if they suit your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to provide tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide and should not be used for tax, legal or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal adviser.

Our revelations

Haven Term is a life insurance policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and is offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by CM Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Police and driver form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is ranked by AM Best Company as A ++ (Superior; Top Category of 15). The grade is valid from 1 April 2020 and may change. MassMutual has received various ratings from other credit rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus skier, which is part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits free of charge or at a discount. The driver is not available in all states and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made available under Plus Rider, which are provided by third party providers (partners). For more information on Haven Life Plus, visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html

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