In Times of Bereavement
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’s a member of one of the following:
These organisations have codes of practice - they must give you a price list when asked.
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.
Dealing with Grief
Bereavement, grief and loss can cause many different symptoms and they affect people in different ways. There's no right or wrong way to feel.
As well as bereavement, there are other types of loss such as the end of a relationship or losing a job or home.
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.
- Try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor – you could also contact a support organisation such as Cruse Bereavement Care or call: 0808 808 1677
- Try the 6 ways to feel happier, which are simple lifestyle changes to help you feel more in control and able to cope
- Find 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
- Listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides
- Search and download relaxation and mindfulness apps or online community apps from the NHS Apps library
- 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