Nursing provides handbook for dealing with sudden death

By By Deborah Rafferty

By Deborah Rafferty

The time following the sudden or unexpected death of a loved one can be traumatic for those left behind, especially when faced with the numerous tasks that need to be completed despite a whirlwind of crippling emotions.

That’s why the College of Nursing, in partnership with U Health Sciences Center and Caring Connections: A Hope and Comfort in Grief Program, released a reference guide to help those who are grieving deal with a sudden or unexpected death.

“The handbook originated in response to a community need for a resource,” said Katie Schrier, manager of public affairs for the College of Nursing. “Before, chaplains had to use handouts and materials on death that were haphazardly put together.”

The college’s re-release of Dealing with Sudden and Unexpected Death: A Handbook for Survivors offers a comprehensive guide to dealing with grief and taking steps to receive professional help. The authors of the handbook interviewed police, victim advocates and other grief specialists, compiling that information into a valuable resource. The information in the handbook provides the Salt Lake City Police Department chaplains with tools to help those dealing with the loss of a loved one. Most often after informing loved ones of a sudden or unexpected death, the chaplains are asked, “What do we do from here?” Schrier said.

Divided into sections to allow for easy reference, the handbook covers a variety of topics ranging from considering organ donation, funeral arrangements, dealing with insurance companies and, if necessary, the criminal justice system, Schrier said.

The handbook also includes a checklist of items that need to be taken care of in the 24 hours following the death. Items on the checklist include notifying family and friends about the death, arranging child or pet care, and finding the will of the deceased and keeping it safe. The list also contains items that most would not think to do, such as canceling the deceased’s credit cards, Schrier said.

“Hopefully, no one will need this handbook,” she said. “However, we live in a world where it becomes necessary to have this information.”

The handbook is available through Caring Connections, a volunteer-based organization through the College of Nursing. Caring Connections also offers grief-counseling classes in different areas, such as dealing with the loss of a spouse or child. All proceeds go toward funding Caring Connections and to scholarships to help aid those who cannot afford to pay for grief counseling.

For more information, call Caring Connections at 801-585-9522.