Grief after bereavement or loss

Most people experience grief when they lose something or someone important to them. 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, and support is available if you're finding it hard to cope with stress, anxiety or depression.

Grief after bereavement or loss

Grief can be overwhelming but you don't have to deal with it alone.  Cruse Bereavement Support help people through this painful time with bereavement support and information. You can call their helpline on 0808 808 1677.

What to do when someone dies 

In the unfortunate event that a person has passed away, the following steps will need to be carried out:-

  • Register the death within 5 days (8 days in Scotland) - this includes weekends and bank holidays. You’ll get a ‘certificate for a burial’ to give to the funeral director, or an application for cremation which you need to complete and give to the crematorium. You must do one of these before the funeral can take place.
  • Tell government about the death. The Tell Us Once service allows you to inform all the relevant government departments when someone dies. You will also need to tell banks, utility companies, and landlords or housing associations yourself.
  • Make the necessary funeral arrangements.
  • Check if you can receive bereavement benefits.
  • Value the estate and check if you need to pay Inheritance Tax.
  • Apply for probate.
  • Deal with the estate.

in times of bereavement


Register the death

You can register a death here.

If a death is reported to a coroner, the documents you need to register the death may be different. Check what to do if the death has been reported to a coroner.

If the death happened outside the UK, you must register the death with the local authorities in the country where the person died. In many countries you can also register the death with the UK authorities. These rules apply if you live in England and Wales. There are different processes in Scotland and Northern Ireland. What to do if someone dies abroad.

A stillbirth should be registered within 42 days.  Sometimes a stillbirth can be registered after 42 days and the register office can explain when this can happen.  You can name the baby in the register. If you are registering a stillbirth, please visit Register a Stillbirth which will guide you through the process.

If someone is missing and you think they may have passed away, you will need to get a Declaration of Presumed Death.


Arranging the funeral

The funeral can usually only take place after the death is registered. Most people use a funeral director to arrange the funeral but if you wish to arrange it yourself, you can do so by contacting the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local council.  You should check if the person who died had made arrangements for their funeral.

You will require permission from a coroner to move a body for a funeral abroad.  You will need to apply at least 4 days before you want the body to be moved.



Funeral directors

Choose a funeral director who’s a member of one of the following:

These organisations have codes of practice and should give you price list. 

Some local councils run their own funeral services, for example for non-religious burials. The British Humanist Association and Institute of Civil Funerals can also help with non-religious funerals.


Funeral costs

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 quote. You can get quotes from several funeral directors to see what is available within your budget.

MoneyHelper has information about funeral costs and how to reduce them.

The funeral can be paid for:

  • from a financial scheme the person had, for example a pre-paid funeral plan or insurance policy
  • by you, or other family members or friends
  • with money from the person's estate (savings, for example) - getting access to this is called applying for a 'grant of representation' (sometimes called 'applying for probate')

You can apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment if you have difficulty paying for the funeral.

There is support available for child funeral costs.  The Children's Funeral Fund for England can help to pay for some of the costs of a funeral for a child under 18 or a baby stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy.  The burial or cremation must take place in England.  You will find further guidance here.

There are many other organisations that provide a variety of practical information and/or emotional support after a bereavement.  Please telephone the Bereavement Advice Centre on 0800 082 1203 so they can provide you with the most appropriate advice for your individual circumstances.