4 Ways to Handle an Unexpected Death

Despite what we might wish, death doesn’t always give notice before it arrives, which can make it even more difficult for loved ones left behind.

“When a sudden death occurs, like with an accident or disease like COVID-19, it can compound our grief. We haven’t had time to prepare or process our feelings in advance,” says Brian Calhoun, Funeral Director at Stuhr Funeral Home.

An unexpected death also often means the individual died before they had the chance to preplan their funeral service, further adding to the family’s strain during an already emotional time.

To help support families dealing with an unexpected death, here are some resources regarding arrangements and grief.

1. Contact Stuhr Funeral Home

If your loved one doesn’t already have funeral arrangements in place, you’ll have a lot of decisions to make fairly quickly. Things like: will they be buried or cremated? Where will you hold the service? Which casket or urn will you use? What type of music will be played? Who is invited?

Luckily, there are experts at Stuhr to help.

“Funeral home directors and staff – we do this every day. We know what it takes to plan a service, so we can streamline the process for you and help you make the best choices for your loved one,” says Calhoun.

2. Collect documents

When making arrangements, you need to collect several legal documents and personal information. This can be extra challenging when someone passes suddenly because they may not have all of these items in a single, accessible location.

This information may include:

• Full legal name

• Date of birth and birthplace (city, county and state)

• Social Security Number

• Legal residence

• Educational background

• Veteran information

• Occupation and industry

Stuhr Funeral Home also has a full checklist available online here. Stuhr is also available to help at any point in planning from paperwork to funeral arrangements. Here, Stuhr provides links to helpful documents needed to be filled out in the process.

3. Utilize grief support

While taking care of all the logistics, it’s important not to lose sight of taking care of yourself during this challenging period.

“We always recommend reaching out to grief resources after a death but especially when someone’s passing is unexpected. Whether that’s a therapist, support group or simply your community – it’s important to remember you don’t have to navigate your grief alone,” says Calhoun.

Stuhr also provides a list of resources for local grief support groups in South Carolina for adults, children and teens, including Stuhr’s own “ABC’s of Grief” weekly support group. Stuhr can also direct veterans to support as well as suicide prevention and survivor support.

4. Reach out to financial resources

Another unfortunate reality of death is the cost, and when someone passes suddenly, they don’t always have money set aside for expenses like cremation or burial.

There are programs available for those who cannot pay for funeral arrangements depending on their location and situation. For instance, if the deceased qualified for Social Security benefits, their spouse or child is entitled to a death benefit. Contact your local social services to find out what programs are available in your area. Stuhr is also heavily invested in helping with Veteran’s Funeral Services, which you can learn more about here. Stuhr also has a list of resources to make it easier for you to reach out to helpful contacts.

No matter what life throws your way, Stuhr is prepared to help you handle it. From finances to grief, we are committed to being a support system for families that need guidance and assistance.

Stuhr Funeral Home, a trusted name in funeral service for more than 150 years, cares for families of those whose lives have ended. Their team is committed to providing quality arrangements to honor loved ones and family traditions, whether it’s at one of their five locations or another Charleston spot. For more information about available funeral services, visit JHenryStuhr.com or call (843) 723-2524.