Most people who lose somebody close to them experience grief and it can affect people very differently. If you find you are struggling and needing support or guidance please remember that we are here for you and we can arrange a consultation with one of our doctors if you need it.
Where else to turn to for support during the grieving process
- Cruse Bereavement Care offers somewhere to turn when someone dies offering telephone, email, and face-to-face and group support. If someone you know has died and you need to talk, call 0808 808 1677 Mon and Fri, 9.30am–5pm (excluding Bank Holidays); Tue–Thu, 9.30am–8pm.
- The Good Grief Trust provides free advice on how to deal with bereavement and where to get support, as well as specific support if someone has died due to coronavirus. Use the online directory to search for bereavement services and support groups in your area, thegoodgrieftrust.org, 0800 2600 400, Mon-Fri 8am-8pm.
- Macmillan Cancer Support is one of the UK’s largest charities, which provides specialist health care, information and financial support for people affected by cancer, macmillan.org.uk, 0808 808 0000, Mon–Fri, 9am–8pm
- Age UK can be contacted for emotional support and advice about financial support and practicalities after a death, ageuk.org.uk, 0116 299 2278, all days, 8am-7pm.
- Tell Us Once is a service is offered by local authorities on behalf of the DWP allowing you to inform all government services of the death at one time rather than having to write, telephone or even attend each service individually. The Tell Us Once service is free to use and can save you a great deal of time and effort. Search “Tell Us Once” online or call 0207 0896403.
- Which? offers financial and practical advice including a checklist for what to do after a death, which.co.uk.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau can offer financial advice as well as directing you to local charities which may be able to help, citizensadvice.org.uk, 0300 3309 047, Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm.
How you might feel when dealing with bereavement, grief and loss
Bereavement, grief and loss can cause many different symptoms and they affect people in different ways. It’s good to remember there’s no right or wrong way to feel.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- shock and numbness – this is usually the first reaction to loss, and people often talk about “being in a daze”
- overwhelming sadness, with lots of crying
- tiredness or exhaustion
- anger – towards the person you’ve lost or the reason for your loss
- guilt – for example, guilt about feeling angry, about something you said or did not say, or not being able to stop your loved one dying
These feelings may not be there all the time and powerful feelings may appear unexpectedly. It’s not always easy to recognise when bereavement, grief or loss are the reason you’re acting or feeling differently.
Experts generally accept that we go through 4 stages of bereavement or grief:
- Accepting that your loss is real
- Experiencing the pain of grief
- Adjusting to life without the person or thing you have lost
- Putting less emotional energy into grieving and putting it into something new
Most people go through all these stages, but you will not necessarily move smoothly from one to the next. Your grief might feel chaotic and out of control, but these feelings will eventually become less intense over time.
Things you can try to help with bereavement, grief and loss
- Talk about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor.
- Talk to your GP out about how to get to sleep if you’re struggling to sleep.
- Consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website, or by calling them on 0300 123 3393.
- Search and download relaxation and mindfulness apps or online community apps from the NHS Apps library. A good example of a mindfulness app is Headspace.
- Contact any one of the charities or organisations listed in this letter, who can offer emotional support.
- Do not try to do everything at once – set small targets that you can easily achieve.
- Do not focus on the things you cannot change – focus your time and energy into helping yourself feel better.
- Try not to tell yourself that you’re alone – most people feel grief after a loss and support is available.
- Try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve grief – these can all contribute to poor mental health.
Further information and support
You can find further information and support about:
In the unfortunate event that a person has passed away, there are three things that must be done in the first few days:
- Get a medical certificate from your GP or hospital doctor (this is necessary to register the death)
- Register the death within 5 days (8 days in Scotland). You will then receive the necessary documents for the funeral
- Make the necessary funeral arrangements
Register the death
If the death has been reported to the coroner (or Procurator Fiscal in Scotland) they must give permission before registering the death.
You can register the death if you are a relative, a witness to the death, a hospital administrator or the person making the arrangements with the funeral directors.
You can use the Register a Death page on the gov.uk website that will guide you through the process. This will also explain the registration process for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Arrange the funeral
The funeral can usually only take place after the death is registered. Most people use a funeral director, though you can arrange a funeral yourself.
Choose a funeral director who is a member of one of the following:
These organisations have codes of practice – they must give you a price list when asked.
Some local councils run their own funeral services, for example for non-religious burials. The British Humanist Association can also help with non-religious funerals.
Arranging the funeral yourself
Contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local council to arrange a funeral yourself.
Funeral costs can include:
- Funeral director fees
- Things the funeral director pays for on your behalf (called ‘disbursements’ or ‘third-party costs’), for example, crematorium or cemetery fees, or a newspaper announcement about the death
- Local authority burial or cremation fees
Funeral directors may list all these costs in their quotes. You can apply for help with funeral costs.