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Dealing With Death



Death is a natural part of the lifecycle. Nobody truly wants to experience it, as even those who commit suicide are really only looking for a way to escape the problems in their life. For those who survive the death of a loved one, there are many emotions to work through.


The focus here is on trying to cope with the death and navigate some of the legal issues, as this is a law firm and not a psychologist’s office. Counseling is one of many ways to deal with the death of a loved one.


The Five Stages of Grief


We are told there are five stages of grief, which generally occur in this order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. This is based on the Kübler-Ross model, which came from a Swiss psychiatrist.


Generally what happens first is shock and disbelief that the person is really gone. Almost as if you are in a dream and will just wake up from it. This is especially true when it is a sudden, unexpected death, versus something such as cancer where there can be months to prepare and say goodbye.


Next is anger. This can be anger at yourself for not doing something, anger at the deceased for dying, anger at the world, God, and a whole host of other culprits who took your loved one.


Then comes bargaining, which can also be surreal. This is the stage where you try to make a deal with God to bring them back. If I just do this, he will come back. Clearly irrational, and tied somewhat to guilt for you still being alive.


Depression comes next. Depression can occur for many other reasons, but with the death of a loved one it can become more concrete.


Lastly comes acceptance. This is not so much you are OK with the death, but that you accept that it was inevitable and you begin to move in in your own life.


Legal Concerns


From a legal standpoint, the survivor(s) eventually have to get to acceptance, which can take months or even years. Meanwhile, there are certain legal issues that have to be addressed in the meantime. Most importantly is dealing with the estate. Whether the person has a will or not, their estate should be probated, even if there are little to no assets. A good probate attorney can assist with this process.


If the death was legally wrongful, then dealing with a wrongful death lawsuit cannot be put off indefinitely. Not only are there statutes of limitation, but if the wrongful party was a government entity, then a tort claim notice has to be filed within 180 days (about six months). Stevens & Legal can handle these cases for you.


Self Help


The last topic are some ways to help yourself with dealing with the emotional issues of a death. First, there are many free support groups out there to help you talk about it and gain empathy from others in similar circumstances. Even if you are not a talker, one of the most effective ways to deal with grief is through talking to others.


You can also connect with family, as death can often bring families back together after years of discord. Another option is to find a good book on dealing with death. As noted before, professional counseling can help, and your health insurance will often times cover some sessions. Lastly, do not be afraid to cry.

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