Losing a loved one is never easy – even if you’ve been prepared for your loss.  We all deal with grief in different ways - but whatever the circumstances, here is some practical support to help you deal with that sense of loss. 

Am I grieving?

Whatever your situation, grief is a normal and expected emotion that you may well have to contend with sooner rather than later. Grief is about more than a sense of losing someone close to you. It’s something that shows through in the way you feel, the things you do, and the decisions you take around the time a loved one dies.

Physical responses may include a tightness in your chest, upset stomach, headaches, shortness of breath, panic attacks or simply loss of sleep. What may be harder to deal with are the anxieties you may feel, emotionally and mentally, at this time – and there’s very little in the way of ‘advice’ that can help you change those feelings: they are very, very personal. However, there are some ways you might like to try to manage your grief, including:

  • Celebrating that person’s life through their internment or funeral
  • Sharing your feelings, talking about them with people close to you
  • Spending time alone to absorb what’s happened to you
  • Or, conversely, seeking out trusted friends with whom to spend some time
  • Keeping yourself occupied, but finding time to consider your feelings
  • Examining your life, and your plans – practical ‘doing things’ may be really helpful

What should I think about then, practically?

On a practical level, if you’ve lost your partner, one of the most important things you can do is spend some time gathering information – documents, copies of death certificates, bank statements and utility bills etc. Drawing up a list of who’ll need to be contacted will give you a much-needed sense of control in your life, that may help you deal with the emotional loss. In the first few days you’ll need to do three key things:

  1. Get a medical certificate from a GP or a hospital doctor.
  2. Register the death – which you need to do within five days. At this point you’ll be given another set of documents which you can start to use for planning the funeral etc.
  3. Finally make arrangements for the funeral. Depending on you or your loved ones religious beliefs this may need to happen very quickly, but certainly within a few days of your loved one dying.

There are a raft of other organisations that you’ll need to get in in contact with including banks, pension or annuity companies and life insurance companies, but in order to get access to the deceased accounts or records you may need to apply for a grant of representation that gives you the legal rights to deal with their estate. Any jointly held property or accounts may not need this, but it’s worth checking with a solicitor. There is quite a detailed legal process that then follows which is known as probate. 

In addition it’s also worth:

  • Keeping a record of who you speak to, what about, what you agree to do, and who’s expecting you to take action. Over the coming weeks, this will be useful as a record of changes to your daily routine.
  • Making a note of any benefits that will need to cease; any insurance policies you may need to revisit (or claim on); any previous employers you may need to contact for administration connected to pensions.
  • Evaluating your short term expenses, and make a list of outgoings that you’ll need to incur – but don’t be daunted by it. Most utility companies, banks and other organisations will not only be understanding of the fact you’ll need time to alter your plans, they also have friendly teams who are empathetic and can offer advice on how to deal with these matters.
  • Seeking professional financial advice – either from your family solicitor, accountant or financial adviser. Your local council will have a list of organisations in your area, and Age UK and the Samaritans can also help.
  • Finally, as time moves on, talk to friends and family about adjusting your plans for where you’re living; the day to day routines you’ve had; the home you’re living in, and the way you’re running the house at the moment. You may want a change of scenery or you may not want to change a thing. What is important, while you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one, is that you feel in control of any decisions that are made so that you can carry on and live life to the full.

To help you think about the practical requirements in a bit more detail, why not take a look at our short video below: