Telephone Script for High Priority Tasks Following a Death

Another blog worth repeating since someone asked me about this recently.

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 that 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.

  • 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)
  • May I get your name and will you spell it for me? (write it down and repeat it back to them)
  • What do you need from me? (write down what they need, copy of death certificate? original death certificate?)
  • What is the easiest way to manage this?
  • Where and how should I send this information? (write it down and repeat it to them to confirm you have the correct info)
  • May I send it to your attention?
  • Is this something I can do online?
  • How will I know this is accurate and complete?
  • 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)
  • May I have your direct phone number or email if I have a question?
  • May I check online to see if this is complete?
  • What else do I need to do regarding this?
  • When can I follow up to make sure this is complete?

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.

Peace…

 

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