How to Cope
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Coping with loss takes time and impacts people differently, both emotionally and physically. Here we list resources to aid in the grieving process.

Therapy: Psychology Today provides an easy-to-use search engine to help you find the right therapist for you. You can search for therapists in your area by insurance, topic, gender, and more. Not sure if therapy is right for you? This article by the American Psychological Association provides research and insight into therapy and how to get the most out of your therapy sessions.

Coping with the loss of a co-worker: Losing a co-worker is often unacknowledged when discussing grief. This article by the American Psychological Association provides suggestions on how to identify and manage your grief following the loss of a co-worker.

Coping with a suicide loss: Loss by suicide is often sudden and unexpected. This article by the American Psychological Association provides suggestions for how to cope personally with loss by suicide, how to talk to children about suicide, and how schools should handle loss by suicide.

CDay 6Grieving Process
Social Media Tips
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In this day and age many people use social media to communicate and share information. This can prove very beneficial to the family but may also cause confusion and hurt feelings. Review these tips to ensure social media is used as a support to the family in this difficult time.

Social Media Use By Family And Friends Other Than The Immediate Family

  • The first thing to bear in mind when sharing or hearing of a loss on social media is that everyone is different. “When it comes to grief, there’s no one way to deal with it, and no correct prescription, so each person’s way needs to be respected,” says Fran Walfish, PsyD, a Beverly Hills-based family and relationship psychotherapist, and author of The Self-Aware Parent. There’s no right way to deal with death on social media.
  • While anyone affected by a death can feel a strong impulse to share the news on social media, such announcements should be left to the deceased person’s closest family members, who should have the prerogative to decide when, what, and how they want to post.  Note what information has been included or excluded from that post, then follow suit and show support.
  • Get your facts straight. While it seems like it should go without saying, when posting about a death on social media, it’s especially crucial to make sure your information is accurate.
  • Be careful with details. If the core group doesn’t indicate the details of how someone passed in the post, there’s some reason they excluded that information. If you happen to know details that weren’t publicly shared by the relatives, it isn’t your place to put that information out there. Let the core group take the lead.
  • If you’ve been notified on social media rather than receiving a call, that means for whatever reason that the closest family members didn’t want to or didn’t have time to talk to everyone. So when acknowledging the news, stick to the medium through which you received the information. Wait and reach out later.
  • Avoid platitudes. When you’re trying to show support for someone who has experienced a loss, avoid comments containing trite platitudes such as “They’re in a better place”. It’s OK to write “I’m so sorry; there are no words”.

Social Media Use by the Immediate Family of the Deceased

  • When the loss is fresh and there are lots of plans to coordinate, social media can save people time and emotional energy rather than re-sharing the same information in call after call. If you’re on the phone with someone you could get stuck in a conversation that’s not just about you relaying information, it’s also about the other person processing it, and you may not have the time or mental patience for such an exchange.
  • Decide whether to keep the deceased’s online profiles. Sometimes a person’s profile page is deleted, sometimes the page is kept up, sometimes a separate memorial site is created.
  • Make your own wishes known. When it comes to looking ahead to your own passing, if you have specific wishes about your own social media presence, share them with your loved ones.
  • Check your privacy settings. When posting, sharing, or commenting on any sensitive information—such as a death—make sure you understand who will be able to see it. If you’re sharing a post, say, on Instagram and connecting it with Facebook, it automatically defers to your Instagram setting. Or your phone may have a different default setting than your laptop.

Additional Resources:

Coping with Death on Facebook

Facebook Legacy Feature

How to Write a Condolence Message

This information was derived from a Reader’s Digest article entitled 11 Etiquette Rules You Need for Dealing with Death on Social Media and can be found at





SDay 2Social, Media
Tips on How to Support a Grieving Family

Your best friend or family member is in pain and you aren't sure what to say.  Use this guide to help you with some examples of things to say in this difficult time.  It is important to understand that there is nothing you can say at this moment to take away the pain they are experiencing.  In this situation, your role is not to comfort, it is to provide support.  What that support is will be different for every family, because each family will have different needs.  But in moments of crisis and shock, helping with meeting a family’s basic, practical needs can be the biggest help.  Take your cues from the family, and keep in mind some of the following things that are often helpful to families:

1)  Acknowledge that you can’t imagine how they are feeling.  People don’t want you to pretend you understand (because you don’t, even if you’ve had a similar loss) and they will appreciate your honesty about how unique and devastating their loss is.

2)  Ask about their loved one. If you have spent some time with them and it feels appropriate, ask them to tell you a little about their loved one or show you photos, if they have any.  

3)  Ask them what they need.  Now, don’t be surprised if many people can’t tell you, because they don’t know what they need.  But sometimes they will, so make sure to ask.  It may be helpful to give them options when you frame the question.  “What can I do to support you guys right now?  I can call other family for you, contact a funeral home [insert other practical needs here!] or I can just give you some time”.

4)  Help them connect with those who will best support them.  Ask if they need help calling anyone and discuss who will be their support in the days, weeks, and months to come.

5)  Acknowledge that you don’t know what to say.  If you are struggling with your words, just be honest.  Families will understand, because in that moment they know there is nothing anyone could possibly say to fix the situation.

6)  Give them space if they need it.  Many families will want time with each other and with the person who just died.  Take your cues from the family and give them space if they need it.

7)  Don’t judge.  This sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how some may impose their grief style or assumptions on families.  Some families may weep, some may laugh and joke, and some may show no emotion at all.  Whatever it is, give them the time, space, and understanding they need to grieve in the way that works for them.

As much as you want to say the right thing, you most certainly don’t want to say the wrong thing.  We don’t want to make the griever sad, we really don’t want to make them angry, and we do so desperately want to make things better.  But alas, we aren’t all walking Hallmark cards and we don’t always know the exact right words to say. Pressures off, though, because grief isn’t something you can fix simply by turning an eloquent phrase.  In the beginning, you can’t make it even a little bit better.  Here are some suggestions of things NOT to say to a loved one who is grieving. 

1)  I know how you feel.

a.   A griever thinks: No you don’t

2)  He/she is in a better place now.

a.   A griever thinks: Who cares!? I want him/her to be here.

3)  It will get easier.

a.   A griever thinks: That seems impossible or I don’t want to forget the person I love.

4)  At least you have other children. (or) You can always have more children.

a.   A griever thinks:  I don’t want another child, I know I still have my other children, but I lost THIS child.

5)  You can always remarry.

a.   A griever thinks: I just lost the person I planned to spend the rest of my life with.  I am still in love.  I’m not interested in anyone else.

6)  At least she/he lived a long life.

a.   A griever thinks: Is that supposed to make me miss him/her less?

7)  It was God’s will”, “God has a plan”,  or “Everything happens for a reason”

a.   A griever thinks:  Why is this God’s plan? Why would God make us suffer? I don’t care if it’s God’s plan, it sucks.

8)  God never gives us more than we can handle.

a.   A griever thinks: Oh yeah? How do you know? Oh yeah? Easy for you to say.  Oh yeah?  My [son couldn’t handle his addiction][daughter couldn’t handle her depression][husband couldn’t handle his cancer].

9)  Don’t cry” or “You need to be strong now

a.   A griever thinks: I can’t stop.  I want to cry.  I need to cry.  I can’t be strong.  You think I am a bad mother/father/son/daughter.

10)  It could be worse.  I know this person who . . .

a.   A griever thinks: I don’t care! I am in the worst pain imaginable, why are you talking to me about someone else?

For more discussion go to

Credit to:What's Your Grief Online Resources at

TDay 1Grieving Process
Signup Genius: Organize your Social Circle
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Carson’s Village utilizes Signup Genius to organize the village.  This is an easy way to help organize friends and family that would like to offer assistance.  This form provides the family idea options that can be used to help support them.   It is important to make the family aware that the donations will be coming from their own friends and family.  Families are encouraged to prioritize their requests to better ensure they are covered.

SDay 2SignupGenius
Tips on Organizing Your Village
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Even if you decide not use our free services, we still want to help. Here is a list of things to consider that you are likely to face in the next few days:

  • It important for the family to say “yes” to offers of help. It can be hard for some to accept help, but it also helps the people around the family that want to contribute to help a bad situation.
  • You will need a system to alert family, friends, work, and school, if applicable
  • Consider allowing a Carson’s Village Advocate assist you with creating a private webpage to provide one convenient spot where family and friends can sign up to bring food, donate money to the family and to get up to date information on what the family needs, locations/times of events and any last minute changes
  • Start early with a way to track food donations, time donations (mowing the lawn), special gifts and monetary donations so that you can write thank you notes at a later date
  • Housing and Transportation – Is there a need to coordinate hotels and travel? Does the funeral home have any discounts? Do people need to be picked up from the airport?

Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about these or other topics.


TDay 2Support
Notification and Document Location
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Employer and Social Security – The Family Lead will need to know to notify the employer of the deceased so the proper paperwork can be completed. This may affect payroll and benefits, as well as the general morale and work schedule of the deceased’s co-workers. Also, the Family Lead will need to know that the family will need to notify the local office of the Social Security Administration and any other income sources immediately. Any benefits received after the date of death will need to be returned to Social Security. The surviving family member or estate is entitled to a one-time $250 death benefit from Social Security. Pensions, annuities and other income sources will have different rules. The Family Lead may choose to check the plan or contact the administrator of those plans for further details.

Guardianship – If there is a guardianship, a power of attorney or a durable power of attorney for healthcare, those persons need to be notified that their responsibilities are at an end.

Bank Accounts – If there are bank accounts on which someone is a “surviving owner”, (the account may read “POD” for payable on death or joint owners with “ROS”, for right of survivorship) a death certificate needs to be provided to the bank so the surviving owner can now take ownership. Otherwise, access to the accounts may be blocked until someone is appointed as an official agent on behalf of the estate.

Wills – If there is a Will when the person dies, the law requires that it be filed (the law does not require that it be probated) with the Probate Court in the County where the decedent lived. The Clerk will provide the executor or executrix of the Will with the necessary paperwork. Expenses of the last illness and funeral should be paid from the estate before any additional disbursements are made. All remaining assets and properties can be disbursed through the probate process.

No Will – If there is not a Will, and an administration of the estate is desired, this is also done in the County Probate Court. Expenses of the last illness and funeral or final arrangements should be paid from the estate before any additional disbursements are made. All remaining assets and properties can be disbursed through the administration of the estate.

Creditors – Letters should be sent to all creditors informing them of the person’s death. If any life insurance coverage exists on open accounts to pay off the remaining balances, a copy of the death certificate will be required. The estate is liable, not individual family members, unless that family member was a named account holder, regardless of the insistence of the creditors. If nothing remains in the estate to pay off debts, the creditors should be so informed.

For information specifically regarding credit card accounts, refer to this article from

Utility Companies – Local utilities (telephone, gas, electricity, and cable) should be notified only if someone else wants to be substituted on the accounts. Otherwise, the family may wait to make the decision to discontinue services. In any event, the utility bills must be paid in order to keep the utilities on.

Newspaper, Mail, Web Accounts, and Memberships – The newspaper subscription will need to be discontinued if no one else resides at the home of the deceased and the Post Office may need to be contacted about a forwarding address for mail, if no one will be at the home to receive mail. The process for cancelling different web accounts vary. Some accounts will ask for a death certificate and other detailed information. Canceling web accounts will help prevent identity theft.

Driver's License - Canceling the driver's license record will help prevent identity theft. Contact your state department of motor vehicles for the process of canceling the license. A death certificate will be needed to cancel the driver's license. 

Tax Refunds – Any tax refunds that arrive after the decedent’s death will be a part of the estate and will have to be distributed according to the Will or the Administration process.

Taxes Owed – Any taxes owed will have to be paid out of the estate or voluntarily by a surviving family member.

Homestead Exemptions – Any homestead exemptions are generally going to be tied to the individual if that person was a senior or otherwise qualified for an exemption. The exemption may no longer be applicable unless the new homeowner meets the requirements.

Personal Property – Items like titles to automobiles, automobile insurance and house insurance will have to be changed eventually. Homeowner’s insurance policies should be reviewed carefully for instructions concerning coverage of unoccupied premises.

Out-of-State Property – If property is owned out-of-state, the Will should be probated or the estate administered in the state of residence first and the Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration (they may be called something else in another state) used to handle the property in the other state.

Right of Survivorship Property – If property or accounts were in the name of the decedent and another person as tenants “with the right of survivorship”, then ownership automatically passes to the survivor(s) without the need for probate or administration of the estate.

Disposing of Personal Items and Clothing – The timing of this is handled differently from person to person. If too soon, it may prevent survivors from having adequate time to grieve, but if taken too long, it may seriously delay the ending of the grieving process, acting as a very painful and constant reminder of the person’s death. The family will need to determine which mementos should be retained. No items should be moved, sold, given away or otherwise disposed of if they have been identified in the person’s Will as items to be distributed as a part of the estate. Only the legal beneficiary of those items is entitled to make the decision as to their disposal.

    Documents to Locate – There are some documents that may be needed or at least helpful in settling the estate of the deceased. These documents should be located and kept together in one place until they can be turned over to the person in charge of carrying out this part of the affairs of the deceased.

    Included in the list of documents to be sought:

    • Funeral and burial plans/contracts
    • Safe deposit rental agreement and keys
    • Passwords
    • Trust agreements
    • Nuptial agreements/marriage licenses/prenuptial agreements/divorce papers
    • Life insurance policies or statements
    • Pension, IRA, retirement statements
    • Income tax returns for the past three years
    • Birth and death certificates
    • Military records and discharge papers
    • Budgets/bookkeeping records
    • Bank statements, checkbooks, check registers, certificates of deposits
    • Deeds, deeds of trust, mortgages and mortgage releases, title policies, leases
    • Motor vehicle titles
    • Stock and bond certificates and account statements
    • Unpaid bills, notes
    • Health/accident and sickness policies
    • Bankruptcy papers: filings and releases
    • Birth certificates for any children


    NDay 2Documents
    Organ and Tissue Donation
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    The following information was copied from the Southwest Transplant Alliance website ( from their “How Donation Works” and “Donation Facts” webpages.

    How Donation Works

    Southwest Transplant Alliance (STA) maintains an agreement to act as the organ recovery agency with hospitals in our designated service areas. We work with 11 hospital transplant centers and more than 200 hospitals.

    When a potential donor is identified by one of those hospitals, we are notified. A Transplant Coordinator, in conjunction with a Family Service Coordinator, immediately begins facilitating the donation process by searching the statewide registry to determine if the potential donor is registered. If the potential donor is registered, the family is notified and the donation process begins. If the potential donor is not registered, the Family Service Coordinator supports the donor family and consults them regarding possible donation.

    STA then manages, along-side the recovery surgeons, the recovery and transportation of organs to the surgeons who will perform the transplants into waiting recipients.

    Frequently Asked Questions about the Donation Process

    What organs and tissues can be donated?

    Organs and tissues that can be transplanted include the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, intestine, corneas, bone, skin, connective tissues and heart valves.

    How long does the process take?

    The organ recovery process usually takes 24 to 36 hours after your loved one has died. If your family has time considerations regarding the viewing or funeral, please let our staff know so the process can be adjusted to meet your family’s needs.

    How long can I stay with my loved one after the consent form is signed?

    You can stay as long as you want. However, we may ask you to step out of the room when a procedure is performed, such as a chest X-ray or drawing blood. You may continue to visit your loved one during hospital visiting hours. If you need to leave the hospital, our staff can arrange to notify you of the progress of the donation.

    Will I know who gets my loved one’s organs?

    No. STA will send you a letter two to four weeks after the donation. The letter will have a brief description of each recipient, with no names or other information that would identify the recipient. All information between donor families and recipients is kept confidential until both parties agree to exchange information. See our Donor Families page to learn more about this.

    Can I meet the people who receive my loved one’s organs?

    Yes. A meeting is possible if both parties agree to this.

    Organ Donation: More Facts About the Process

    • A person must pass away in a hospital on a ventilator in order for their organs to be medically suitable for donation.
    • Brain death because of a stroke or because of a traumatic injury are often the cause of death that make someone eligible for organ donation, though this is not always the case.
    • In some instances, organs can be donated after cardiovascular death.
    • Hospitals are required by federal law to notify the appropriate organ recovery organization of a potential donor.
    • Donated organs are matched with recipients based on several factors, such as blood type, organ size and distance from the recipient’s transplant center.
    • After a donor’s organs have been recovered, his or her body is released to a funeral home or mortuary service based on the family’s preferences.
    • In most cases, the full range of funeral services is available after organ donation, including open-casket viewings and cremation.

    Donation Facts

    There are more than 118,000 men, women and children in the United States, including more than 10,000 in Texas, who need an organ transplant to live. In 2016, more than 30,000 organ transplants were performed in the United States, more than in any previous year. While the number of registered donors is steadily growing, we need more people to register. Here are the facts about organ, eye and tissue donation.

    • Every 10 minutes, someone new is added to the national transplant waiting list.
    • Every year, about 8,000 people die waiting for an organ.
    • On average, 22 people die each day waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.
    • Organs and tissue are not matched with recipients according to race or ethnicity. People of different races frequently match each other.
    • The number of Hispanic transplant recipients has more than doubled in the past 20 years, from 1,535 in 1993 to 4,133 in 2013.

    The Facts About Donation

    • FACT: Doctors and other clinical staff do everything possible to save your life. If they don’t, they could lose their license to practice medicine. You will only be considered a potential organ donor after all lifesaving measures have been exhausted.
    • FACT: All major religions in the United States support organ and tissue donation and view it as a final act of love and generosity.
    • FACT: In many cases, the full range of funeral services is available after organ and tissue donation, including open-casket viewings and cremation.
    • FACT: The donor’s family pays for medical care prior to organ and tissue recovery, and for funeral expenses. They do not pay any of the costs associated with donation.
    ODay 1Organ and Tissue
    Funeral Program Samples
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    The funeral program (sometimes called a funeral brochure, pamphlet or funeral order of service) is the printed document that is given out at the funeral or memorial service that outlines the key points in the funeral or memorial service and summarizes the life achievements of your deceased loved one. –

    Examples at No Cost

    Examples for Purchase



    FDay 4Funeral
    Poem Samples
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    Using poetry funeral readings is a popular way to personalize a funeral or memorial service. In addition to using poetry readings during the actual funeral or memorial service, many people include poetry in the printed funeral program. You can select a poem that was a favorite of the deceased or chose something that evokes the spirit of the person you are celebrating.  

    Funeral Guide Webpage

    Elegant Memorials Funeral Programs and Keepsakes Webpage

    Natural Endings

    Last Post

    Family Friend Poems


    PDay 4Poems
    Obituary Components
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    The Advocate can support the Family Lead in writing the first version of the obituary or can create the framework. The Family Lead can then work with the family to personalize it based on the deceased’s personality. The following items are suggested to be included:

    • Name/Announcement
      • Full name of the deceased, including a nickname, if any
      • Age at death
      • City of residence at the time of death
      • Day and date of death (include the year)
      • Place of death
      • If possible, include pictures
    • Life
      • Date of birth
      • Place of birth
      • Names of Parents
      • Childhood – Siblings, stories, schools and friends
      • Marriage(s) – Date and place with name of the spouse
      • Education – School, college, university and other
      • Designations, awards and other recognition
      • Employment – Jobs, activities, stories, colleagues, satisfactions, promotions
      • Military Service
      • Place of residence
      • Hobbies, sports, interests, activities and other enjoyment
      • Charitable, religious, fraternal, political and other affiliations; offices held
      • Achievements
      • Unusual attributes, humor, other stories
    • Family
      • Survived by (and place of residence)
        • Spouse
        • Children (in order of birth and their spouses)
        • Grandchildren
        • Great-Grandchildren
        • Great-Great-Grandchildren
        • Parents
        • Grandparents
        • Siblings (order of birth)
        • Others such as nephews, nieces, cousins, in-laws
        • Friends
        • Pets (if appropriate)
      • Predeceased by (and date of death)
        • Spouse
        • Children (in order of birth)
        • Grandchildren
        • Siblings (in order of birth)
        • Others, such as nephews, nieces, cousins, in-laws
        • Pets (if appropriate)
    • Service
      • Day, date, time and place
      • Name of the officiant, pallbearers, honorary pallbearers, and other information
      • Visitation information (date, time and place)
      • Reception information (date, time and place)
      • Other memorials, vigil, or graveside service (date, time and place)
      • Place of interment
      • Name of the funeral home in charge of the arrangements
      • Where to call for information
    • End
      • Memorial Funds established
      • Memorial donations suggestion (include address)
      • Thank you to people, groups or institutions


    ODay 4Obituary