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Sad Portrait


What is bereavement?

Bereavement is the experience of losing someone important to us. It is characterised by grief, which is the process and the range of emotions we go through as we gradually adjust to the loss.

Losing someone important to us can be emotionally devastating - whether that be a partner, family member, friend, or pet. It is natural to go through a range of physical and emotional processes as we gradually come to terms with the loss. We often won’t understand the way we feel some people also go through an emptiness feeling where there is no emotion at all.

Bereavement affects everyone in different ways, and it's possible to experience any range of emotions. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Feelings of grief can also happen because of other types of loss or changes in circumstances, for example:

  • The end of a relationship

  • The loss of a job

  • Moving away to a new location

  • A decline in the physical or mental health of someone we care about.


  • Anticipatory grief is a sense of loss that we feel when we are expecting death. It features many of the same symptoms as those experienced after a death has occurred, including depression, extreme sadness, or concern for the dying person. It does not necessarily replace, reduce or make grief after the loss any easier or shorter, but for some people, it can provide the opportunity to prepare for the loss and for what the future might look like.


  • After any loss you may also feel what is known as 'secondary loss'. After the initial shock of losing a loved one, you may struggle when thinking of future experiences that those people will not be there to share or see, such as watching your children grow up, meeting partners or attending key life events like weddings.

  • Collective grief can happen when a community experiences a significant loss together. This might be following the death of a significant public figure or a tragedy that affects a local community. It could occur at a wider national level too.

  • These kinds of major events can impact us even if we didn't personally know those who've died. They can bring up many difficult emotions and remind us of other losses in our lives. And seeing others sad could make us feel sad ourselves. But we might also find comfort in sharing and processing these events as a community.



Get help with funeral costs (Funeral Expenses Payment): How it works - GOV.UK (

You could get a Funeral Expenses Payment (also called a Funeral Payment) if you get certain benefits and need help to pay for a funeral you’re arranging.

If you live in Scotland

You can apply for a Funeral Support Payment. It has replaced Funeral Expenses Payment in Scotland.

If you receive money from the deceased’s estate

Your Funeral Expenses Payment will be deducted from any money you get from the deceased’s estate.

The estate includes any money or property they had but not a house or personal things left to a widow, widower or surviving civil partner.

What you’ll get

Funeral Expenses Payment can help pay for some of the costs of the following:

  • burial fees for a particular plot

  • cremation fees, including the cost of the doctor’s certificate

  • travel to arrange or go to the funeral

  • the cost of moving the body within the UK, if it’s being moved more than 50 miles

  • death certificates or other documents

You can also get up to £1,000 for any other funeral expenses, such as funeral director’s fees, flowers or the coffin.

The payment will not usually cover all of the costs of the funeral.

How much you get depends on your circumstances. This includes any other money that’s available to cover the costs, for example from an insurance policy or the deceased person’s estate.



How to use Tell Us Once

A registrar will explain the Tell Us Once service when you register a death. Tell Us Once is a service that lets you tell multiple government organisations at once about a death.

They will either:

  • complete the Tell Us Once service with you

  • give you a unique reference number so you can use the service yourself online or by phone

The registrar will give you a number to call. This includes Relay UK if you cannot hear or speak on the phone. If you’re a British Sign Language (BSL) user, there’s a video relay service if you’re on a computer - find out how to use the service on mobile or tablet.

You must use the service within 28 days of getting your unique reference number.

If you cannot register the death because an inquest is underway, you can still ask a registrar for a unique reference number. You’ll need to get an interim death certificate from the coroner holding the inquest first.

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