What to do After Losing a Loved One

El Paso Resource Guide – Coping with Losing a Loved One

The death of a spouse or loved one is among the most stressful events in a person’s life. The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale puts some science behind that statement, rating death of a spouse as the most stressful event and the death of a close family member as the fifth-most stressful.

Anxiety comes from all directions — the emotional emptiness of loss and the practical challenges of arranging funerals, welcoming family members, dealing with belongings and so much more. In an effort to ease some of that burden during such a difficult time, we have compiled a series of resources for people coping with the death of a loved one. Whether you are a spouse or child of the deceased, or simply a friend, there is something useful here for everyone.

For convenience, click any of the categories below to jump to that particular section:




El Paso residents strongly identify as Catholic — almost 45 percent, according to Sperling’s Best Places. But many other religions are represented with churches here, with Baptists making up the next-largest single denomination at 3.5 percent.

There are hundreds of churches to choose from in El Paso, from mega-churches to small gatherings. Each will handle a funeral or death ceremony in its own way.

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Death Education and Counseling


Death education and counseling is an interdisciplinary field that deals with the topics of death, dying and bereavement. There is a professional organization to support practitioners, who strive to help people openly discuss topics relating to an often taboo subject. Many practitioners are available in El Paso to help guide people through the loss of a loved one.

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Flowers originally served a purpose in funerals before mortuary sciences and embalming were commonplace. Today, flowers help provide comfort and lift the spirits of grieving families. Lillies are the flowers most associated with funerals. They are considered to represent the innocence restored to the soul of the dearly departed.

Candy is not typically connected with funerals in the United States, but it is part of the Chinese tradition. Mourning families will present a piece of candy to guests at the funeral; they are expected to consume the candy before leaving the funeral.

Florists and candy shops in El Paso are at the ready to provide a sweet touch during a sad time.

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Funeral Home


The concept of funeral homes did not emerge in the United States until the 20th century. Families typically accepted the responsibility of planning funerals. Burials were normally on family land, rather than in a cemetery.

Now, there are many excellent funeral homes and directors who ease tremendous burdens for grieving families. Traditional full-service funeral homes and lower-cost alternatives are available in El Paso.

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Grief Center


Everyone deals differently with the death of a loved one. Some people open up wide, talk to friends, write blogs and make speeches. Others withdraw and choose to cope privately. Still others never face up to the shock and sadness.

Grief centers have emerged in El Paso to provide focused, professional support for adults, teens and children attempting to deal with the emotional challenges associated with the death of a friend or family member.

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There is a wealth of evidence that exercise can reduce stress. Neurochemical changes that occur with vigorous exercise stifle stress hormones and help people deal with anxiety and depression. Even short workouts can provide useful amidst the grim realities of funerals and burials.

Many gyms in El Paso offer short-term memberships available to visitors, in addition to a variety of regular memberships.

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Hospice Service

Hospice services can lend dignity to the end stage of a person’s life on earth. Nurses, physicians, social workers and spiritual guides all can be part of a hospice service, providing support to a terminally ill person, their family and loved ones.

A range of hospice services in El Paso offers both home-based care and inpatient care.

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The El Paso International Airport sits on about 7,000 acres just six miles east of downtown. Destinations for the passenger airlines are primarily in the West and Southwest. The airport served about 2.76 million people in 2015.

Out-of-town visitors who need a place to stay near the airport can find almost two dozen options nearby, both along Montana Avenue and off Interstate 10, which is less than 2 miles from the airport.

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Moving/Storage Company


One of the most difficult tasks related to losing a loved one is sorting through their belongings and residence. In some cases, the volume of items is daunting. In other cases, the sentimental nature of the effort is too great. The presence of a widow or widower who might need to find a new place to live complicates matters.

Storage companies can help set items aside temporarily while family members determine the next steps. Moving companies can assist a grieving person find a new home base with the least amount of hassle.

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Organ Donation

There are almost 10 million registered organ donors nationwide, and in Texas an estimated 13,000 people await transplants. Some choose to join the donor registry around the time a loved one passes away, as they consider their own mortality and the value in contributing to the greater good.

But if a loved one passes and is not on the registry, it can be up to the family to make the call regarding the donation of organs. Once that decision is made, there are organizations at the ready to facilitate this life-saving but time-sensitive action.

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Pet Adoption Service


When a loved one dies, their pet can provide a strong emotional bond to the deceased for those coping with the loss. However, as time passes, the reality of caring for a new animal can extend patience and resources beyond the breaking point.

There are numerous animal shelters and rescue groups in the El Paso area. If it is your preference, contact them first to inquire if the shelter is a “no-kill” shelter.

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There are some differences between psychologists and therapists, though both strive to improve the mental health of their clients.

Psychologists have an advanced degree in psychology, can diagnose disorders and often will work with a psychiatrist, who is capable of prescribing medication. Therapists can include psychologists but can also be social workers or life coaches. They provide guidance and support but may not be able to do all that a licensed psychologist can. There are many options for both in El Paso and a person can choose the one they feel is best for them.

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There are many questions when it comes to selling the home occupied by a loved one who has passed. What kind of taxes must be paid on the sale? Is it required to disclose to a buyer if the person died in the home? Who must sign all the sale documents?

A licensed real estate agent in El Paso, such as those listed below, can be a tremendous resource in helping answer these and related questions.

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Social Worker

Social workers can be valuable partners of families dealing with a loved one’s end-of-experience. They are trained to help deal with ethical dilemmas, financial stress, emotional stress, grief and bereavement and more. Social workers are often members of a hospice care team, but also can be employed separately. The following organizations may be of benefit.

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Survivor Benefit

Few people are immune to financial stress. But when a loved one does, the survivors may be especially fearful there will not be enough money to take care of them. Survivor benefits may be available from a variety of sources, beyond the Social Security benefits with which many people are familiar. The organizations listed here may provide more answers.

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