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What to do when a loved one has died in a nursing home

You probably remember the day your parent moved into the nursing home you had carefully chosen together. Such times are often highly emotional, and many adult children experience worry and anxiety, wondering whether they made the right choices for their loved ones. Whether your parent spent only a few weeks in residence before passing away, or had been living in the same Texas facility for a longer period of time, it's never easy when the time comes to say goodbye.

Navigating the aftermath of your mother or father's death may be extremely stressful at times. In addition to the intensely personal nature of the situation, you will likely also deal with various practical needs and details that must be addressed. Mourning begins upon learning your loved one has passed, and your grieving process will not necessarily be the same as others.

General tips to help in the aftermath of a loved one's death

Perhaps hospice was part of your parent's final days, weeks or months in life. Many such programs include support networks to help prepare adult children and other family members for a loved one's passing, as well as offer practical support in the aftermath of a death. The following information may be helpful in your situation:

  • A person of authority must officially pronounce your loved one's death. While cessation of life is often apparent, someone with the authority to do so must officially proclaim your loved one's death before removing the body from the premises.
  • You needn't feel rushed to exit the room after your parent dies. In fact, many families gather together by the bodies of their loved ones to spend time in silence or share memories aloud with one another. Whether you're alone or with other family members, it's perfectly acceptable for you to remain with your parent's body awhile, before removal takes place.
  • Many people call in their ministers or other faith leaders to pray by their loved ones' bodies or share words of encouragement in the immediate aftermath of death. You can inform staff members of any customs or religious practices you intend to carry out so they will provide appropriate accommodations.

What if your loved died because of negligence or abuse?

No two situations are exactly the same, and you may determine how best to proceed throughout your own grieving process. Sadly, things don't always run so smoothly after a loved one dies in a nursing home, especially if circumstances are subject to suspicion. Facing your parent's death is difficult enough; believing that his or her death involved someone's negligence or criminal behavior may seem unbearable at the time.

There are several people who can be of immediate assistance in your hour of need. Local law enforcement agents can obviously investigate your situation to probe further into the events leading up to your loved one's unexpected death. A personal injury attorney can also be a great asset, as such situations often lead to wrongful death claims in civil court. An attorney can be your advocate to seek justice on behalf of your deceased loved one.

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