The following is a list of things to know as you walk this road with your child(ren).
1. Health insurance is immediately canceled. If the deceased spouse or non-custodial parent held the medical and dental insurance for your child, you will want to contact the employer to get COBRA benefits while you search for other coverage.
2. Child support is immediately canceled. Unless there are arrearages, child support is canceled upon the date of death and you will no longer receive it.
3. Verbal agreements are immediately canceled. This typically includes out-of-pocket expenses such as braces, co-pays, sports, and extra curricular activities.
4. Emergency contact forms for doctors, school, and activities need to be immediately revised so that there are no delays if something happens to your child.
5. Social security benefits (if applicable) must be applied for immediately as it takes a couple of months to go into effect. This requires a copy of the death certificate, the child’s birth certificate, and legal papers such as a divorce decree or parental adjudication.
6. Contact the school Dean of Students immediately. It is so important to become an advocate for your child; there are too many students for the school faculty to keep track of. It is up to you to make sure they know about the circumstances surrounding your child’s time there so they can be aware and be available to help.
7. Contact the school counselor and establish a plan for helping your child get through school while coping with his or her grief.
8. Sign your child up for a Grief Support Group. Most schools have a support group just for kids that have lost a parent. This gives the children much needed support from school staff as well as other kids that can relate to their experiences and feelings.
9. Be prepared for other family matters. There will be many people wanting contact with your child/children. It can be very painful and overwhelming for them. It is important for them to have time to cope with the news; listen to them and let them decide when they are ready.
10. Find an Advocate. Trying to respectfully navigate these waters can be very difficult, and the help of an advocate is imperative while wading through such painful and uncharted territory.