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Coping with bereavement

The sense of loss and grief felt when a loved one dies is faced by us all at some point in our lives. Bereavement is a natural process and it is very important to allow emotions to surface to help you work through your feelings. 

There is no easy way to come to terms with your loss but many people, especially family and friends, will be able to help you emotionally and with any practical arrangements you need to make.

The professionals who have been involved in recent care will be able to support you and there are also a number of charities and voluntary organisations who can help at this time. Whilst some people are able to cope well without any specialist support, others may need the help of professionals. Talk to your care team or your local hospice if you feel you need support, or look online for contact details.

Trained bereavement counsellors may also be able to support you, or a local priest or other religious or spiritual leader. Many hospitals and hospices also provide chaplaincy services that can help at this time so talk to your care team or local hospice.  

Remember that you are not alone and that by talking to others and seeking help if you need it, you will be better able to cope with adjusting to your new life.

Registering a death and arranging a funeral

When you have just lost someone close to you, the practical arrangements such as registering their death, arranging a funeral and letting friends and institutions know can be very hard. Your doctor or a social worker should have a check-list of what you need to do and who you need to contact. Your local social services or government offices should also be able to provide this information, or you can check at your local library or online. 

Registration of a death needs to be carried out within a limited number of days so the first thing you will need to do is obtain a death certificate from the doctor or hospital and take it to the local office where deaths are registered. Banks, pension companies and other organisations will need an original copy of the death certificate so it is usually a good idea to ask for additional copies of the death certificate (there may be a charge for this). 

The registrar will be able to advise you about returning important documents to the issuing authority such as a passport, driving licence, cheque book, credit card etc. It is important that you always enclose a covering letter with returned documents explaining why you are contacting them and including your own contact details.

If arrangements haven’t already been made you will also need to contact a funeral director who will be able to guide you through the funeral arrangements for either a burial or cremation. They will help with details such as where to hold the service, any music and readings, and arrangements that need to be made after the funeral.  If you are unsure, your doctor’s surgery will be able to advise you.

Many people discuss what sort of funeral they would like before they die so make sure the funeral director is aware of any known wishes so that these can be respected. 

Living a different life

Coming to terms with losing someone close to you and being able to move forward can take some time. Some people may feel guilty when making new plans and accepting a new and different way of life can be very hard. We are all individual; the length of time and how we deal with the changes will vary with each of us. Some find volunteering or learning something new is a good way to focus their mind on something different and establish new routines.

It is very important that during this process that you look after yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. Be willing to accept offers of support and friendship, especially from family and friends, and gradually acceptance of a different life will begin. 

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