Direct Line magazine

Dealing with a bereavement

Updated on: 10 December 2020

A man sits alone with his head in his hands.

Sadly, losing someone close to you is one of life’s inevitabilities. The aftermath of a devastating loss might not feel like the time to be practical, but there are some necessary steps one must take to settle affairs.

It’s reassuring to know there are ways to make this process less challenging during a time when you’ll want to prioritise your emotional needs and the wellbeing of those around you.

Emotional support is available

Nothing can prepare you for losing a loved one, and it will cause huge upheaval. There are a number of things to think about, from the organisation of a funeral, to comforting family members, to managing financial affairs. But there is a great deal of excellent, expert help available that provides the right support:

  • Cruse Bereavement (0808 808 1677) provides guidance and will help you to manage your grief.
  • Macmillan Nurses (0808 808 0000) assists with bereavement following a terminal or critical illness.

  • Marie Curie (0800 090 2309) offers confidential support and practical information following a loss.

Two people holding hands as one person consoles the others

Organising a funeral

The responsibility of organising a funeral often falls to the person most directly affected by the loss, but in the midst of supporting and comforting those closest to you, practical matters will likely be furthest from your mind.

These three simple steps can help you navigate the process.

  1. Firstly, ask for a medical certificate from a GP or hospital doctor. This is required to register the death.

  2. Next, you’ll need to register the death within five days (eight days in Scotland). At this time you’ll receive the documents you need to arrange a funeral. It’s a good idea to ask for several copies of the death certificate as many organisations (banks and building societies) may also wish to receive a copy.

  3. With these things in place you can arrange the funeral. You can use a funeral director or arrange this yourself. The costs of a funeral may vary, as our guide explains. If you choose to use a funeral director, ask friends or family if they can recommend anyone, or choose someone who is a member of one of the following:

    These organisations have codes of practice and will give you a price list when asked. It’s a good idea to get prices from several companies and confirm the types of services they offer, and whether the cremation or burial is included.

Informing other organisations

Most councils offer a Tell Us Once service which lets you report the death to many government organisations in one go.

Remember to inform banks, building societies, insurance providers and utilities about the death, as you may have to change details of the account or amend payments. It’s important to amend joint paperwork relating to financial matters, as these will need to be changed to one name.

Check if there are any life insurance or over 50s insurance policies to be claimed against and then contact the relevant insurance company.

There is plenty of support and guidance to help make the process straightforward, so you can focus your attention where it’s most needed.

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