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Bereavement support

The death of a family member or friend can be a very stressful time as well as being a sad one. Grief can be very hard to manage. It can be physically and emotionally draining and can put strains on the mental health of everyone involved. We hope the following information will help you manage events so that coming to terms with your loss is a little easier.

Local support services Toggle accordion

There are many services and groups in Hertfordshire that can offer support.

Preparation for illness and death Toggle accordion

After a death, one of the greatest sources of stress and mixed emotions is having to sort out the practical matters of the deceased. Every adult, of any age, can help make this easier for others by getting their own affairs in order while they are still healthy. Here is a checklist to help:

  1. Keep your practical and financial affairs up to date and in good order; keep important documents in a sensible place where they be can be found and tell someone you trust where they are. This may well include login details to online accounts. Review this material periodically and throw out (shred or recycle) paperwork you don’t need.
  2. Make a will and make sure that key family members or a trusted friend know where it is kept. If you have had a will prepared by a solicitor, or another professional will writing service, they may also have logged the existence of the will with certainty.co.uk. This is a national register of wills which makes them easy to trace.
  3. Consider making a Lasting Power of Attorney. An LPA is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people you trust to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness (for example if you develop dementia) and cannot make your own decisions.
  4. If you have any, let your family know wishes for your funeral. 

Taking care of these matters can significantly reduce the stress placed upon your loved ones when you die. These matters are important even if you do not consider yourself wealthy.
 

What to do when someone dies Toggle accordion

  • The government provides clear and useful advice on what to do when someone dies. The same information in a slightly different format is also available from citizens advice. Many funeral directors will also have detailed check lists to help you. You can find funereal directors online or here.
  • If someone dies at home and the death is expected, call their GP or the NHS helpline (tel 111) as soon as you can. If the cause of death is known, the doctor will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (often called a Death Certificate), which allows you to register the death at the local Register Office. You should also contact a funeral director immediately to arrange for them to bring your loved one into their care. Most funeral directors are available 24 hours a day. If someone dies at home unexpectedly, or they collapse and they appear to be dead, call the police and ambulance service immediately using 999
  • If someone dies at home and the cause of death is unknown, it is important you leave the area untouched, apart from any attempted resuscitation. The police will arrange for a funeral director to collect the deceased and take the body into their care on behalf of the Coroner. If the doctor is unsure of the cause of death, even if it seems obvious, or if the deceased died suddenly or unnaturally, they will contact the Coroner. The Coroner may order a Post Mortem Examination or Inquest to determine the cause of death and then issue the documents allowing the death to be registered. A funeral cannot be conducted until the Coroner’s inquest has been completed and cause of death established.
  • For a death in hospital or a care home, the steps are very similar. If a loved one has died in hospital, they will be kept in the hospital mortuary until you can arrange for your chosen funeral director to collect them.
  • For accidental death away from home, the police and ambulance service will be able to advise you of the initial steps to take.
  • Advice about what to do if someone dies abroad can be found at citizens advice.
  • For adults, from spring 2020, organ donation in England will move to an 'opt out' system.  You still have a choice if you want to be an organ donor or not when you die. Follow the link for more information.
  • Additional support and advice is available from At a loss.org

Death of a child Toggle accordion

The death of a child is especially hard as it seems so far from the natural order of things. The following two organisations can offer support at this extremely difficult time.

Getting help with funeral costs Toggle accordion

  • If you are arranging a funeral and you are on a low income you may be able to get help via a Funeral Payment. More information about this is available at  gov.uk/funeral-payments and at the Money Advice Service. A Funeral Payment will usually be means tested and an immediate family member needs to be receiving a qualifying benefit. All or part of the payment may be re-payable if the deceased’s estate has enough assets.
  • A Public Health Funeral can be arranged for someone who dies without anybody willing or able to make the arrangements. Conditions apply and costs may be recoverable from the deceased’s estate. 
  • Other useful links and advice:

Contacting the Environmental Health Department Toggle accordion