Finding clarity in loss: Alumna’s book helps others navigate the passing of a loved one

In January 2014, Charles Dixon passed away after a twenty -year bout with leukemia leaving his wife of 46 years to navigate the many details that follow the death of a loved one.

A CPA by training, organization comes second nature to Gloria Dixon ’85, and she was prepared to handle most of what she encountered in the days and weeks after Charles’ passing. However, when dealing with grief, Dixon quickly realized tackling tasks like finding a marriage certificate, obtaining Social Security survivor benefits, or locating a spouse’s pension can make even the most organized person feel overwhelmed.

“When my husband died, I was operating on emotional autopilot,” said Dixon. “No one had ever told me what I needed to do in the first hours, days or weeks after the death of a loved one. I realized that I was on my own.”

In the days and weeks following her husband’s death, Dixon committed to keeping a detailed list of her experience and action items that she felt needed to be completed in a timely manner—everything from funeral arrangements and ceremonies to financial accounts and computer logins.

“You want to be rational, but you’re so caught up in that emotion,” said Dixon.

After chronicling the first days after Charles’ death, Dixon had enough information and advice to compile a book she hopes will help others: After Death: When you lose a loved one do you know what to do?

“God placed it in my spirit to write this book to share with others who will need basic knowledge as to what to expect and what to do after a loved one dies,” said Dixon.

“Losing a loved one is difficult enough without having to deal with all the things that you must go through to carry out final wishes, resolve an estate, or make the necessary changes to move forward. The more prepared you are, the better, the easier it is.”

After Death is available, in traditional book format, at the Mount Mercy Campus Store, African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids and at River Lights Bookstore in Dubuque, as well as in a digital format at Amazon, and through social media,

Written by Sara Baughman