Donor Family Services

Bereavement Resources

What Do We Need During Grief?


You need time alone and time with others you trust to listen when you need to talk. It takes months and sometimes years to feel and understand the emotions that accompany loss.

Rest and Relaxation

Get plenty of rest and relaxation. You may need more of things like hot baths or afternoon naps. It may help to take a trip, have a cause to work for or help others. Any of these may help you transition into this new chapter of your life.

Exercise and Diversion

Exercise is very important. Walk aerobically for 30 minutes each day with friends, if possible. Do what feels healing to you and what connects you to the people and things you love.


Take time for prayers, meditation or reflection. Grief is an emotionally exhausting process. You will need to replenish yourself. Ask others what helped them in their time of grief.


Try to reduce or find help for financial or other stress in your life. Allow yourself to be close to those you trust. Getting into routines helps. You may need to allow yourself to do things at your own pace. Make lists and set priorities.


You may find hope and comfort from those who have experienced a similar loss. Knowing things that helped others and realizing they have recovered with time will give you hope that sometime in the future your grief will be less raw and overwhelming.


Trying to allow yourself to accept the expressions of caring from others even though they may be uneasy and awkward. Others are comforted when you allow them to help you. Helping someone else who is also experiencing a loss may bring you both comfort.


For a while, it may seem like much of life is without meaning. At times like these, small goals are helpful. Something to look forward to, like playing tennis with a friend next week or a trip next month, will help you get through the present. At first, do not be surprised if your enjoyment of those things is not the same; this is normal. As time passes, you may need to work on long range goals to give new structure and direction to your life.

Small Pleasures

Do not underestimate the healing effect of small pleasures. Allow yourself to enjoy sunsets, a walk in the woods or favorite food. All steps toward regaining your ability to take pleasure in life can be very helpful.

Permission to Backslide

Sometimes, after a period of feeling better, we find ourselves immersed in the old feelings of extreme sadness, despair or anger. This is the nature of grief. This may happen over and over, for an extended period of time but it does not mean that you are not healing.

Most Drugs are Not Helpful

Medications such as those used to treat depressive moods and anxiety (always consult physician) can help people get through difficult times. However, at times they may prolong and delay the necessary process of grieving. The grief process cannot be avoided and everyone needs to navigate through it in order to heal.

For information on support services in your area, please contact Donor Family Services at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 1-800-232-2892 or:

Key West Help Line (Monroe County) – 305-296-4357/800-273-4558
Switchboard of Miami (Miami-Dade & Monroe Counties) – 305-358-4357
First Call for Help (Broward County) – 954-537-0211
Center Crisis Line (Palm Beach, Martin & St. Lucie Counties) – 561-383-1111

After the funeral

*Check with Social Security office about benefits.

*File claims for insurance, it applicable.

  • Life insurance
  • Credit card insurance
  • Mortgage or loan insurance
  • Insurance on bank accounts
  • Accident insurance
  • Auto insurance
  • Other types of insurance (provided by employer of deceased)

*Re-establish bank accounts and safe deposit box in the appropriate name. Call before going to the bank to be sure that you have the necessary papers to make these changes. It may be desirable to have a co-signature on all accounts. If so, make arrangements with the person of your choice.

*Consult an attorney for advice about a will and other financial matters. If you do not have an attorney, the local Bar Association can provide a list of attorneys. If you cannot afford an attorney, the Legal Aid Society can help you find legal assistance at reduced rates.

*Check with the IRS about the paperwork you will need to file with your next tax return.

*The title of the car owned by the deceased may need to be changed. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Documents you may officially need to make changes:

  • Social security number
  • Marriage certificiate
  • Copies of death certificate
  • Copy of will
  • Birth certificates of dependent children
  • Copy of insurance policies
  • Copy of certificate of honorable discharge
  • Bank account number
  • Complete list of property
  • Car title

Literary and Web Resources

View literary and web resources


  • At times, the medical examiner will request to perform an autopsy to determine the person’s cause of death. In investigations are conducted when the death that is sudden, unexpected, unnatural, suspicious or violent.
  • An autopsy that is requested by the medical examiner is a mandatory surgical procedure which involves the removal of the organs so that they can be examined. The investigation may include taking photographs, gathering pertinent evidence at the scene and speaking to the family members.
  • If an autopsy is performed, it is completed by a qualified physician to accurately establish the cause and manner of death.
  • During donation cases, our staff works with the medical examiner and obtains consent so that the organs/tissue can be used for transplant and/or research.
  • A copy of the autopsy report can be requested by calling the Medical Examiner in the county where your loved one died.

Monroe County – 305-872-4719
Miami-Dade County – 305-545-2400
Broward County – 954-327-6500
Palm Beach County – 561-688-4575
St. Lucie County – 772-464-7378
Collier County – 239-434-5020

  • If your loved was a tissue donor, it is probable that the University of Miami Tissue Bank completed an autopsy as this is standard protocol in tissue donation. To request a copy, please contact Donor Family Services at 1-800-232-2892.

Information you may need for the death certificate:

  • Name of deceased (first, middle, last)
  • Age, date of birth (month, day, year)
  • Place of birth (state, country)
  • Race
  • Country of citizenship
  • Marital status
  • Name of surviving spouse, if married (including maiden name, if applicable)
  • Social security number
  • Profession/occupation (type of business or industry)
  • Employer’s address
  • Residence address (state, county, city for street and/or mailing address)
  • Father’s & mother’s maiden name
  • Physician’s name, address and phone number
  • Funeral director’s name, address and phone number
  • Pastor’s name, address and phone number (if applicable)
  • Your information (your name, relationship to deceased, address and phone number)
  • Other family member’s name(s), address(es) and phone number(s)