However prepared one might be for the death of a loved one, the sheer intensity of the emotions and reactions to the death can be overwhelming.
It can be confusing to feel angry and unable to concentrate – though these are very common manifestations of bereavement – and the fact of talking to someone about one’s feelings, whether it is to friends or trained counsellors, can be of great comfort and assistance in this process.
The most obvious forms of help come from friends and family, but assistance is also available via the GP, clergy, and from professional and volunteer bereavement counsellors. Often families and friends experience discomfort at talking about the deceased and fear the efect that talking about them will have on the bereaved person, when often this is what they want. A counsellor can facilitate discussion and open the way for the bereaved to verbalise the numerous and conflicting emotions brought about by their loss.
Much has been written about ‘stages of grief’, but these stages should be seen as a broad guide only. They can be affected by such things as the manner of death and the ages of the deceased and the survivor.
Loneliness and problems associated with the tasks of daily living are common and difficult adjustments for the bereaved. The extent of their dependence on the deceased can also affect the severity of the bereavementas can the nature of the death. Aboce all, there is no timetable for grieving; each person has to do it at their own pace.
Anyone supporting someone who is recently bereaved needs to be aware that death often engenders ambivalent feelings. Disbelief is often a feature and the ramifications of loss can take a long time to filter through.
Common features of bereavement also include: denial; struggling to adapt to the new reality; shock; anger with the person who died; self-reproach; going over and over events leading to the illness and the death; being weighed down with guiltor being overwrought by the feeling of unfinished business or things unsaid. It is not uncommon for the bereaved to isolate themselves, and friends and relatives may therefore need to be able to talk when they need to.
When someone dies there are many decisions and arrangements to be made and unfortunately these often have to be made at a time of personal distress.
Practical advice and support may be provided by friends, family, doctor, nurse, solicitor, minister of religion or anyone involved with you or the person who has died. The Funeral Director can also explain about arrangements that have to be made. The Bereavement Advice Centre also provides access to forms and information.
There are a few steps that need to be taken shortly after the death. In many cases the hospital or GP involved will help you with these early steps:
If you are married or in a registered civil partnership and your partner dies, you may be able to get extra financial help. This is called a bereavement support payment.
The new form to claim Bereavement Support Payment can be found here.
Funerals are expensive and it is always advisable to ascertain whether the deceased has already made financial arrangements for their funeral. They may have a pre-paid funeral plan in place or cremations society certificate.
Some occupational pension schemes also pay a lump sum to help with funeral costs and trade unions, professional bodies and associations pay a sum on the death of a member – ll are worth checking.
If you are on a low income and you need help to pay for a funeral you are arranging, you might be able to get a funeral payment.
You might have to repay some or all of the cost from the estate of the person who died. To find out if you are eligible and to request form SF200 contact your local JobCentre Plus.
You can arrange for the local post office to redirect the post of someone who has died. The post office may insist on having proof that you have got the legal authority to do this. It may help if you can provide a death certificate and a written statement saying that you have a right to act on the person’s behalf. You will have to pay a fee for redirection of post.
You can also stop junk mail being sent to someone who has died. To do this, you can register details of the death with the Bereavement Register.
Companies who check the Bereavement Register will remove details of the person who has died from mailing lists and marketing databases. However, this will not stop junk mail being sent from companies who do not check the register.
A death must be registered within 5 working days (unless the registrar says this period may be exceeded). If a death has been referred to a coroner, it cannot be registered until the registrar has received authority from the coroner. If the person died at home their GP will certify the cause of death and give you a Medical Certificate and Formal Notice telling you how to register the death.
If the person died in hospital, the hospital will issue the certificate. When you go to the registrar you should take the Medical Certificate, Birth and Marriage Certificates and the medical card of the deceased if possible.
The Registrar will give you a form for the Funeral Director (unless the coroner is involved) and a form for the Department of Social Security so that pensions, allowances, benefits can be stopped or changed as appropriate. There is a charge for each copy of the death certificate you may need.
Nearest tube – Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station – Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle – ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45