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Four products to help families cope with losing a loved one

OpinionFour products to help families cope with losing a loved one

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Nobody has yet found a way to escape dying, and dealing with death wreaks havoc upon families. It creates unbearable grief and other burdens, including substantial costs and time dealing with affairs.  

Doing some pre-planning can help families cope in their greatest time of need, whether a loved one is dealing with a terminal illness or you are preparing for the “just-in-case” scenario. Here are some important products and services that you might not have heard of, but that can help your family. 

1. End-of-life doulas 

You may be familiar with a birth doula, which is a person that provides guidance and support to mothers during labor and after childbirth. While help is needed when a life enters this world, guidance and support are also needed when a life leaves this world. 


Enter the end-of-life doulas. INELDA (the International End-of-Life Doulas Association) describes their end-of-life doula members as providing “companionship, comfort, and guidance to those facing a terminal illness or death” as well as support that includes “emotional, spiritual, and practical care.” This creates benefits not only to someone dying, but also their loved ones.  

Patient on hospital bed

There are several products on the market that can help families better handle the trauma of death and dying. (iStock)

They can be hired whether someone has received a serious illness diagnosis, when someone is dying or even after a passing to help the family with things like light grief support and rituals. 

Loren Talbot, INELDA’s director of Communications and Partnerships, says, “The support end-of-life doulas offer has been around since humans have gathered in communities. Today, doulas help fill the gaps with non-medical support for the dying person and their circle of care.” 

2. Legacy and wishes planning kits 

My father created a road map for my sister and me to follow should anything happen to him, with his wishes and his critical information — some people call these “in case of death” folders or binders. When he was in a freak accident in 2013, having that planning kit was invaluable.  

In putting it together, we discussed his wishes should he become incapacitated. When we had to take him off life support, knowing we were following his wishes and not having to make that decision on our own spared us a lifetime of burden.  

It also saved us more than $10,000 knowing his preferences for the funeral and burial, as well as hundreds of hours of time in tracking down his information and having the road map of how to settle his affairs. We turned his gift to us into an affordable product anyone can use for legacy and wishes planning, Future File.  

But even if you choose a different system, having a kit that walks you through putting your full affairs in order, from where to locate important documents, to burial wishes to key advisors and more, will lessen the burden on your loved ones in terms of grief, time and money, during their greatest time of need. 

3. Preserve Family Memories 

Technology can help us preserve a loved one’s memories and even their voice, which can be a source of comfort. There are a number of products and services that offer prompts that can guide individuals through creating a story and leaving behind a hard copy book as a memento.  

Remento turns your words into a story — their selling point is that there is no writing required, which can be helpful if someone doesn’t have the capacity to do so. Storyworth creates a story from written prompts. 

There are also apps that record voices and greetings that can be shared after death or even on special occasions after someone passes, like Evaheld. If you are more of a do-it-yourself type, you can record with your phone or computer’s voice recording app and save the files in a secure location.  


Make sure to include directions in your legacy and wishes road map kit on where to find these valuable messages that will make your or a loved one’s voice and words live on after death. 

4. Cataloging 

Whether you have a lot of stuff, important family heirlooms, collectibles, valuables or otherwise, cataloging them can be a nightmare. Often, family members don’t know what is valuable, full backstories on family items, or to whom items are to be bequeathed. 

In putting it together, we discussed his wishes should he become incapacitated. When we had to take him off life support, knowing we were following his wishes and not having to make that decision on our own spared us a lifetime of burden.  

There are a number of cataloging products and services out there that can help, including Artifcts. This service allows you to digitally capture and organize your “stuff.” For each item, you can save a picture with tags, stories or even directions attached to them to help categorize and catalog items. 


You can add this to your will or your legacy and wishes planning kit as a way to help your loved ones identify which of the things you leave behind has meaning and value.   

We spend so much time planning for life events, except for death, which is the one for which family members usually require the most help. Getting help from planning-focused products and services will leave you with peace of mind today, while leaving your loved ones peace of mind down the road. 



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