Bereavement is an experience we all have to cope with at some time in our lives.  Grief is natural but it is painful and may bring unexpected feelings or symptoms.

It is hard to accept the loss.  To begin with you may feel numb and events may seem dreamlike and unreal.  This is a natural reaction, which cushions you against the loss and lets you feel it more gradually.  It may be hard to believe the death has happened and it is not unusual to think you have seen or heard the person who has died.

You will be feeling sad.  Grief is physically and emotionally exhausting.  It may be difficult to eat or sleep.  You may experience lack of concentration, memory loss, physical pain (caused by tensions), guilt, self-pity or anger, often anger at the person who has died.  You may feel there is no point in going on and life seems empty and meaningless.  These powerful feelings are part of bereavement and do not mean that you are not coping.  Remembering and talking about your loved one and sharing your feelings with someone you can confide in can help you to work through your grief.

Sometimes other people, even people you know well, find it difficult or awkward to talk about the person who has died, as they do not know what to say or are afraid of upsetting you.  They may even seem to avoid you, which is hurtful.  You may need to show them that you want to remember and talk about your loved one and that you need their support.

We come to terms with bereavement in our own way and in our own time because grief is a very difficult process.  The pain of grief eases, although it may be difficult to believe that this is possible.  As time passes you will be able to take up your life again although you will never forget the person who has died.

Useful Information

Registering the death

You should register the death within 5 days.

You can go to any register office but if you use the one in the area where the person died you’ll be given the documents you’ll need on the day.

If you use a different register office the documents will be sent to the office in the area where the person died before they’re issued to you. This means you’ll usually wait a few days.

Registering the death will take about 30 minutes – you might need to make an appointment.

Who should register the death

A relative should register the death.

If a relative can’t register the death, you can do it if you:

  • were there at the time of death
  • are an administrator from the hospital (if the person died in hospital)
  • are in charge of making funeral arrangements

What you need to do

Take the medical certificate showing the cause of death (signed by a doctor) with you.

If available (but don’t worry if not), also take the person’s:

  • birth certificate
  • Council Tax bill
  • driving licence
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • NHS medical card
  • passport
  • proof of address (eg utility bill)

You’ll need to tell the registrar:

  • the person’s full name at the time of death
  • any names previously used, eg maiden name
  • the person’s date and place of birth
  • their last address
  • their occupation
  • the full name, date of birth and occupation of a surviving or late spouse or civil partner
  • whether they were getting a State Pension or any other benefits

You should also take supporting documents that show your name and address (eg a utility bill) but you can still register a death without them.

Documents you’ll get

When you register a death you’ll get:

  • a Certificate for Burial or Cremation (the ‘green form’) – gives permission for burial or an application for cremation
  • a Certificate of Registration of Death (form BD8) – you may need to fill this out and return it if the person was getting a State Pension or benefits (the form will come with a pre-paid envelope so you know where to send it)

You can buy extra death certificates – these will be needed for sorting out the person’s affairs.

Arranging a funeral

The funeral can usually only take place after the death is registered. Most people use a funeral director, though you can arrange a funeral yourself.

Funeral directors

Choose a funeral director who’s a member of either:

These organisations have codes of practice – they must give you a price list when asked.

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.

Arranging the funeral yourself

Contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local council to arrange a funeral yourself.

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.

Paying for a funeral

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.

Moving a body for a funeral abroad

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

Find a local coroner using the Coroners’ Society of England and Wales website.

There is a different process in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What else do I need to think about?

There are many things to be done when someone dies. They don’t need to be done all at once, but you need to decide which tasks are most urgent and who the best person to do them is.

Someone may need to inform key people in the life of the person who died, such as:
• Family and friends
• Employer and Trade Union
• Hospitals attended (including cancelling any outstanding appointments)
• Those people helping in the home, such as meals-at-home or a home help service
• Day centres, clubs and associations.

Someone may need to put financial arrangements in order, by contacting
• Banks and building societies
• Pension providers
• The Department of Work and Pensions
• Tax authorities, including local council for council tax
• Home and car insurance
• Utilities (gas, electricity, telephone etc)
• Hire purchase arrangements
• Season tickets

Someone may need to return:
• Passport
• Driving Licence
• Library books/tickets.

Can I get help for bereavement?

The NHS West Midlands Birmingham Bereavement Advice Service can offer help and support with a wide range of issues following the loss of a loved one including:
• What to do first
• Finding a Funeral Director
• Probate and legal procedures
• Money and tax issues
• Finding support
• Preventing junk mail to the deceased.
Contact: 0800 258 5950 or go to

Cruse Bereavement Care:
Information and support for anyone affected by a death.
Tel: 0870 167 1677
Young Person’s Helpline: 0808 808 1677

The Compassionate Friends
Support and befriending for bereaved parents and their families
Tel: 0845 123 2304

The Samaritans
Support for people in crisis.
National Tel: 0845 790 9090

Lesbian and Gay Bereavement Project
Support for lesbian and gay people during bereavement.
Tel: 020 7403 5969
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 7.30pm – 10:30pm

Local Funeral Directors

V Morton
1856 Pershore Road
B30 3AS
A private car park is available at the rear of the building.
Tel: 0121 459 9111
Fax: 0121 458 4433

705 Bristol Road South
B31 2JT
A private car park is available at the rear of the building.
Tel: 0121 476 9111
Fax: 0121 476 8276

218 New Road
B45 9JA
A private car park is available at the rear of the building.
Tel: 0121 453 9111
Fax: 0121 457 7366

Co-operative Funeral Services
1290 Pershore Road
Stirchley, Birmingham
B30 2XU
Tel: 0121 458 5151

S Gascoine & Son Funeral Services
277-279 Pershore Road South
Kings Norton
B31 3EX
Tel: 0121 458 5859