Guide for the First 48 hours – 2 weeks

I can’t express how much we wish you never had to come to this website or do the things that must be done.  Within the first 48 hours there are things that must get done.  We know all you want to do is absolutely nothing, unfortunately this world keeps moving, time keeps ticking, and life will start to move on.  Your loved one’s path has stopped but yours still goes forward.

With that, these are the things that are absolutely required of you or an advisor to do.


If at all possible, find a friend, family member, or talk to a clergy member or chaplain to:

  • take care of planning the memorial
  • talking to everyone besides immediate family
  • meet with the funeral director

Note – You may think you are thinking clearly, I did too, but you’re not.  You need someone to advise you as you make decisions.  (I threw all my sons’ clothes away thinking I was doing the right thing, but my wife and other children wanted his favorite sweatshirts as a reminder of him)


You or your designated person (advisor) needs to contact a funeral home.  

They will be a huge resource for you.  The help they should offer you are these things:

  • They will pick up your loved ones remains.
  • They will contact Social Security for you.
  • They will get you as many death certificates as you need (but they cost money per certificate).
  • They can offer to make a program for the service but wait and think about that you have other options.
  • You will have to decide what to do with your loved ones remains at this point: Casket burial or cremation.

  • If cremation, there are things to think about:
    • Pick out a container or you will get a bag of ashes
    • Put some of the ashes aside in a separate container (you can use them for a number of things in memory of your child – we put some ashes aside to make stones as a reminder of our son)
    • Don’t throw anything away, get some boxes or totes, put their name on it and set it aside for another day.

  • Set a date for memorial.  Just figure 2-3 weeks.  You may want to rush this, but there are many factors to think about:
    • Are there family or friends wanting to be at the service and are traveling a long distance?
    • How many people will be invited and is the venue suitable for that many people?
    • Is the venue available at that time?
    • Are you going to have a large or small memorial? (We changed our minds 20 different times)
    • Are you going to have a reception afterword?
    • Will you have a member of the clergy lead the memorial?
    • Will someone want to speak during the service?
    • What type of songs will you play? How many songs? (2-3)
    • Will there be a time for friends or family to speak as a remembrance at the service?
    • What type of flowers (if any) at the service?
    • This will hurt but picking out a picture(s) for the program will be needed.


For pamphlet or hand out these are a few ideas to have in it:

  • Picture on front cover with DOB and Date of passing
  • Add a poem that resonates for you and your child (see POEMS on our resources page)
  • What the person liked or was passionate about
  • Hobbies/Clubs/Sports
  • Last year of school attended
  • Awards, achievements, job, etc.


Go fund me or other crowd fund sourcing:

  • You need to set it up and no one else.  (There are far too many stories of “friends” who have set up a crowd sourcing fund only to have the “friend” pilfer the money)
  • If you have a separate bank account, put it in there for needs, it goes fast.

As the months pass, and you come to grips with what has happened it’s pretty important to talk to someone about it.  Remember to commit to your family.  You and your family need to commit to each other that you will not fade away from each other’s lives.  Your child has left this Earth but has not left your heart.  Let others know that they can say your child’s name.  Laugh at fond memories and treasure your loved one.  Working through your grief is not a sprint for you or others.  This is a marathon.   The first year is mind numbing and painful.  You and others will forget simple things, this is normal.  The second year may be better, but some say that the numbness wears off and coming to terms with your new reality can be difficult.  The third year, from what I’m told, is a turning point.  This is just a generic guide, there are no timetables for healing, and you all will grieve differently.  Have love and patience for one another, this is a long journey.  

With love and deepest sympathy,

Pat, Jamie and Becca