Another Great Tool for Closing Online Accounts After a Death

My wonderful friend Mary sent this link to me and what a great site it is! Everplans (currently in beta) is a great tool for funeral and death planning with a few tools for after a death including an extensive list of online vendors with links on how to close the accounts online.

From the website: “Everplans is genuinely a service that is valuable to EVERYONE. We don’t know when or how, but we do know that we can do a few things to prepare. We do know we can do a few things now that will save our families a huge amount of stress later on. We started Everplans because we thought there was a need. After the past years of building Everplans, talking daily to people who have experienced loss, and experiencing loss ourselves, we now know there is a need. Having an Everplan changes everything.” Keep up the great work, Abby and Adam!

People ask me all the time about death planning, and many of our customers use Begin Here to plan. Everplan is at the top of my list among the many planning tools available. They have free tools and there is an option to pay $35.00 per year for some additional services.

And of course, if planning didn’t occur, Helping Survivors Manage and Begin Here will help after the fact.

Disclaimer: Helping Survivors Manage is in no way affiliated with Everplans.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

14 Questions to Ask a Creditor When Reporting a Death

Another blog worth repeating since someone asked me about this recently. Here is the PDF if you would like to print it. It is in our Downloads tab on this website.

When I contacted the Social Security Administration to notify them of my mom’s death, I picked up the phone, dialed the number and was all ready to professionally notify them of my mother’s death and ask them what I needed to do. When someone answered, I unexpectedly started sobbing and yelped ‘my mom died!’ The woman replied in a kind southern accent, ‘oh honey, I’m sorry’. What a wonderful response we all deserve! One hint, the funeral home usually manages this task, ask your funeral director.

Although, later, I thought ‘that is no way to report a death and to handle such a task’ and proceeded to create a script for myself so that it would be – not easier – less difficult going forward.

Here are examples of questions to ask that are on free downloadable forms on our website. They are in the Download tab and will help make the task less daunting.

When you call anyone, the goal should be to talk to someone kind and helpful. If a customer service person is neither, ask to speak to someone else, or simply hang up and try again later to find a different person. There is no reason you should have to go through more agony by talking to someone who is unkind while you are grieving and trying to handle these unfun tasks.

  1. Hello, I need to report a death, can you help me? (if not, keep trying until you find someone who can – you may need to call back later and if someone is unkind, hang up and try again later to find someone compassionate)
  2. May I get your name and will you spell it for me? (write it down and repeat it back to them)
  3. What do you need from me? (write down what they need, copy of death certificate? original death certificate?)
  4. What is the easiest way to manage this?
  5. Where and how should I send this information? (write it down and repeat it to them to confirm you have the correct info)
  6. May I send it to your attention?
  7. Is this something I can do online?
  8. How will I know this is accurate and complete?
  9. What else do you need from me? (ask this question several times, people sometimes forget to tell you something, take your time; the last thing you want is to have to manage the whole process over again because they failed to tell you a step you needed to take)
  10. May I have your direct phone number or email if I have a question?
  11. May I check online to see if this is complete?
  12. What else do I need to do regarding this?
  13. When can I follow up to make sure this is complete?
  14. How can I verify this change is reflected in your records?

Keeping notes is legally prudent. It is easy to forget when you have so much to do and are also grieving. After looking at notes years after my mom’s death, I remembered NONE of the conversations.


Posted in Death and Dying | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tribute to Another Woman Who Changed My Life – Maya Angelou 1928-2014

This morning my New York Times headline email in my in box brought me to tears in a matter of seconds. This post is a bit unusual, as I do not address grief often on this site. As Maya was always an exception to the rule, I decided to post a poem I wrote about her many years ago after seeing her speak in Santa Cruz, California in the late 1990s. Thank you, Maya, for being the brave and beautiful woman you were.


upon first sight
i inhaled quickly
and i don’t think i breathed again
until i got in my car to leave

her stride is that of
a ruler
lacking every insecurity
one foot
and then, the other
anxious for the next

arms swinging
hips swaying
inviting swooning
sweeping us into her corner
of the kitchen
right where she wants us
and right where we
want to be

one arm bent
at the elbow
carrying the additional extremity growth
from youth
her words on pages
the exact words we await

a space shuttle pales in comparison
to the grandiosity i witness
without breath

flowing layers of cloth
her glorious body
red, red, red

barefoot, she was twenty feet tall
african queen, mother of all children
the mother i did not choose
the guru in my karma

as the words traipsed through diaphragm
to throat to tongue through teeth
she looked at us, enveloped us…knew us
the bottle of wine i had beforehand

a wordless child becomes the voice of millions
excluding so few…

she spoke the words i remembered
poems i memorized
philosophies i adopted upon initial exposure
the voice of a thousand mothers and fathers
grandmothers and grandfathers
sons and daughters…an old soul

she is the pyromaniac inflaming my desire to learn
and receive…

holding my breath, i hate that it will end…
her voice will stop whispering in my ear
telling me the secrets of poetry
the passage to remain phenomenal
the sense of being
the art of cherishing what i own (my power)
the appreciation of pure simplicity in its most complex form

yes, i will have to breathe
she will have to stop
and i will have to carry on alone
as she taught me to do so well…

Kat Reed

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

California Bookstore Day, May 3, 2014 – What about the rest of the world?

Please visit your local independent bookstore on May 3 and suggest they join the California celebration! If you are in Northern California (Corte Madera or San Francisco), stop in at Book Passage to pick up a copy of Begin Here: helping survivors manage.

Independent stores have been a part of all of our lives at one time or another. The store that first comes to my mind is the record store called Co-Op (if the term ‘record’ confuses you, find someone over the age of 40 to explain). When we were young, we felt so grown up to go there because it wasn’t in the mall, and they also sold smoking paraphernalia. It was an institution and I loved it.

The independent store journey has gone from a popular, neighborhood necessity to a murder victim of the collective big box store takeover. Now we are back to a new surge in the desire for the elusive mom and pop options that we all unwittingly helped obliterate. A few survived and they remain a model for the new generation of independent entities.

As a self published author, it is much easier for me to approach (and be approached by) independent bookstores to carry my book. I have my book in several independent bookstores throughout the country and it warms my heart to be able to help any independent bookstore make a buck.

Visit your local independent bookstore, record store, food store, and you will likely be happily surprised at the people who work there. From my experience as a consumer, I see them not as much working there for a paycheck as much as working in a deliberate, purpose-driven and noble vocation. They really seem to care about what they are doing whereas the big box stores try to pretend they care with their scripted upselling training.

Thank you, independent entrepreneurs, especially independent bookstores!

Posted in Death and Dying, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Reasons You Should Follow Chris Raymond,’s Death and Dying Expert

Editor’s note: This is a confession. It is about breast-cancer awareness. It is about the pink. For years I have taken silent issue with this unending media frenzy while simmering in a frustrated pot of pink that permeates everything I see, down to the rubber gloves I felt forced to purchase out of need and no other choices available. When I imagine speaking these words out loud, it makes me think of the Seinfeld episode when Kramer didn’t want to wear the AIDS ribbon — what kind of a person am I? Am I not against breast cancer?

Like Kramer, I don’t need no stinking ribbon, and I wish most of the money spent on making things pink (now that awareness has simply become merely saturation — no, flooding) actually helps obliterate cancer, not merely medicate it, or fill landfills with discarded tcatchke.

Backlash, ensue. I hate breast cancer, as I hate all cancer, but who doesn’t?

Did you know that the leading cause of death among women (and men) is heart disease and tops not only breast cancer, but all cancers combined? February is heart-health month and heart disease touches almost all of us at some point in our lives, directly or indirectly.

Chris Raymond is the editor of’s Death and Dying website, and he posted an article this month that delves into the subject of heart disease with facts that deserve a pro bono branding campaign provided by Susan G. Komen’s CMO (chief marketing officer). His bio speaks of his experience, but what really matters are his words and the reason my clicks are driven to his site: “Death is deeply personal and never easy to contemplate. While the Internet has enabled easier access to information, the guidance offered online about death and dying can prove misinformed, biased, deluded or worse. As’s expert on death and dying, my goal is to provide you with timely, topical and objective information to help you make better-informed choices for yourself or someone you love.”

The Top 5 Reasons

Thank you, Chris, for always writing something I want to read about death — the practical, the enlightened, the sometimes uncomfortable, the profound, and the undying attention and appreciation of what happens to all of us.

Chris generously contributes to Helping Survivors Manage this mChris Raymondonth by way of an interview. Please feel free to comment, but, more importantly, follow him on’s Death and Dying website. I read every one of his articles and they are consistently rich in content. Thank you for your contribution to the industry, Chris.

What is your first memorable impression of death in your life, how old were you and how did it affect you? When I was about 21, my grandmother asked me to join her at the open casket bearing the body of her beloved sister during the funeral visitation. As we stood there silently for what seemed like hours, my mind raced with thoughts about what my grandmother was thinking and feeling, and whether I was supposed to say something “comforting” to her.

Eventually, my grandmother broke the awkward silence and said, “I like the color of her casket. I’m going to get a casket in that color.”

This moment taught me that, despite the reality of death, the living must still carry on with the details, decisions and distractions that fill our allotted days, and that, sometimes, the best response is simply the gift of silence.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about being a survivor after a death? Undoubtedly, the greatest fallacy is that the forever-loss of someone we love is something we’ll eventually “get over.” You get over a cut, a cold or a car collision, but never the death of someone you love. Instead, in time, you learn to live with the reality of that loss but you always remain aware of the scar on your heart left by the wound of grief.

What do you wish you could tell every survivor after a significant death? Two things — First, do whatever you need to do to cope short-term without wondering if you’re “doing something wrong” and without worrying about what others think. Second, even though this loss might feel overwhelming right now, this too shall pass.

What is your favorite ‘famous last words’ quote? As he lay on his deathbed, the wife of comedian Bob Hope asked him where he wanted to be buried. His reply? “Surprise me.”

What is your favorite movie about death or dying? Cary Grant is my favorite actor, and his 1937 comedy Topper is my favorite death-related film. After Grant and his on-screen wife (played by Constance Bennett) die in a car accident, the fun-loving couple haunt Cosmo Topper, their stiff, hen-pecked pal who doesn’t have any fun.

A close second is 1978’s Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beatty, which is a remake of 1941’s Here Comes Mr. Jordan. In both versions, the lead character, Joe, dies before he’s supposed to and must temporarily inhabit the body and life of another dead man until a suitable permanent body/life can be located.

What is the most fascinating statistic about death that few people know? I don’t find this stat fascinating as much as downright unsettling. Scientific evidence suggests that left-handed people don’t live as long as righties for a variety of reasons, with the average amount of time measured not in days, weeks or months but years. Guess which hand I naturally use most…

What have you done to help your survivors after you die? (Do you have a will, have you planned your funeral, etc.?) I’m a typical example of not taking care of the things I know I should do, such as preparing a will or creating an advance-planning directive in case I’m hit by a bus. (And for someone like me who writes about these things, that’s inexcusable.) It’s not because I feel uncomfortable about it or can’t face my mortality; it’s simply laziness and thinking, “Oh, I’ll get to that tomorrow.”

How do you want to be remembered after you die? The only form of immortality available to us, unfortunately, is to live on in the hearts and minds of those who loved us. Therefore, I hope I’m simply remembered at all. And if I’m not, I plan to come back and haunt them like Grant/Bennett in Topper.

Posted in Death and Dying | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment