Sharing the sad news that a loved one has died is among the most difficult and immediate responsibilities related to losing a loved one. While grieving people may think they are ill-equipped to inform others of a death, a bit of advance preparation before beginning the task often helps, reports the article “Telling People that Your Parent Has Died” by Now What. While informing others that someone has died will be a challenge, taking the time to plan how to deliver the news can help.
Call immediate family first. Give yourself time to experience your initial grief and regain composure. Write down a simple, direct message to tell people, such as “I’m sorry to have to tell you the news, but mother has died an hour ago.” Avoid long conversations.
Call the employer of the deceased as soon as possible. Asking the employer if they could spread the word among coworkers and business associates as necessary will help save time. Obtain the boss’s email address to keep the office up to date.
Look for the person’s friends in their personal phone book or on an emergency contact list. Do not try to contact every person on the first day. Prioritize by placing a star by the closest friends, and if a relationship is unknown, circle. Create lists.
Delegate delivering the news. When someone volunteers help, give them a list to check off those contacted. Helpers should say they are calling on behalf of the family. Share the news quickly, and tell those being called where and how they will receive further information.
Knock on doors and directly inform close neighbors. If the person lived in an apartment or assisted living, it may be impossible to know exactly how many neighbors were friends. Ask the manager for permission to place a notice in a common area.
Publish an obituary to run in the local paper. Understand that this notice not only informs city residents, obituaries also serve as genealogical records. Discuss fees with the mortuary director or directly with the newspaper, as costs vary by words, days posted and size.
Write letters. Notify businesses in order of importance, including the department of motor vehicles, banks and other organizations, advises the Suffolk County Council list “Who to Tell When Someone Has Died.” If practical, go in person to businesses that are close.
Send handwritten notes to update remaining acquaintances that could not be reached by phone. Including copies of obituary notices or service notices will be appreciated by those who could not be there. Provide the address of the mortuary so the person can send flowers.
Marie Brown is a Nashville-based writer who has been writing professionally since 2004. She began writing instructional articles online in 2009, writing articles about writing, business, home organizing and childcare issues. Brown holds a master’s degree in English, a minor in writing and has an associate degree in early childhood education.