Our Services A - Z - Bereavement Support and Advice Services
About the service
If you are visiting these pages because you are recently bereaved, the Trust would like to offer you our sincere condolences.
We hope the information provided will help, guide and support you at this difficult time.
The government has produced a leaflet which shares relevant information to help bereaved people make important decisions during this national emergency; it explains the next steps, answers some of your questions and guides you to the extra help and support that is available.
Please note all deaths in England and Wales must be registered within five days this includes weekend and public holidays.
- The First Step
You will need to obtain a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD). To obtain the MCCD please telephone the Hospital’s Bereavement Office the morning of the next working day on 0151 430 1336 or 0151 430 1412. The bereavement officer will then be able to advise you on the next steps. They will then guide you through the process.
Please note, if the death has occurred at Newton Hospital a nurse on the ward will contact Medical Services and they will process the MCCD by contacting the nominated next of kin and guide them through the process.
If an interpreter is required please ask and this can be arranged by the Bereavement Office or ward.
If your relative / friends religious / faith practices requires burial to take place within 24 hours following their death, please contact the Bereavement Office for advice or if it is out of hours contact the site manager through the switchboard: 0151 426 1600.
- Registering a Death
You will need to obtain a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD). To obtain the MCCD please telephone the Hospital’s Bereavement Office the morning of the next working day on 0151 430 1336 or 0151 430 1412. The bereavement officer will then be able to advise you on the next steps.
If the death has occurred at Newton Hospital a nurse on the ward will contact Medical Services and they will process the MCCD by contacting the nominated next of kin and guide them through the process.
Please note all deaths in England and Wales must be registered within five days including weekends and public holidays.
Once you have confirmation from the Bereavement Office that the MCCD is completed they will send the MCCD along with next of kin details to the Registry Office via secure email. The Registry Office will contact the nominated next of kin at the earliest opportunity to register the death by telephone.
If your relative / friend’s religion or faith requires their burial to take place within 24 hours following their death please contact the Bereavement Office for advice; if it is out of hours please contact the site manager through the switchboard on 0151 4261600.
Sometimes the MCCD cannot be issued at the hospital for example, if your relative / friend’s death was sudden or the doctor was not certain of the cause of death. The hospital doctor will have to refer the death to the Coroner and this may cause a delay. The Bereavement Officer will inform you if the case has been referred to the coroners.
The Coroner will then take responsibility for issuing the MCCD or necessary paperwork. The Coroner’s Office will contact the nominated next of kin or appropriate person to advise them regarding the procedures. You can find more information on the Coroner Information page.
Who can register a death?
- The next of kin or family member.
- A person present at the death.
- The deceased’s solicitor or executor of the estate.
- The occupier / owner of the premises where the death took place.
- The person responsible for funeral arrangements (not a funeral director).
- Hospital administrator.
The registrar would like you to have the following information in front of you if it is available. (Do not worry if you cannot locate some or all of them.)
- The deceased’s National Health Service medical card.
- The deceased’s birth certificate.
- Any details of NHS pension, war pension or civil service pension.
- The deceased’s marriage certificate if appropriate.
At the time of registration you will be required to pay by card over the telephone for any death certificates you wish to purchase. At present they are £11 each – these will be posted out to you.
You may need more than one copy of the death certificate to provide to companies who will be dealing with insurance policies, pensions etc. Some companies will not accept photocopies.
The registrar will ask for the following information:
- Date and place of death
- Full name of the deceased
- Any previous names, including maiden name of woman who have been married
- If the deceased was Male or Female
- The deceased’s date of birth
- The deceased’s place of birth
- The deceased’s occupation
- The usual address of the deceased.
- If the deceased was married or in a civil partnership, the full name of their spouse
- Spouse’s occupation
- Name and address of the person registering the death.
The registrar will then provide:
- A Certification of Burial or Cremation. This certificate is green in colour they will scan it directly to the burial or cremation site office or the funeral director you have chosen.
- A Certificate of Registration / Notification of Death (Form DB8): This is a white form and they will post it out to you. This can be returned to the address on the back of the form - Department of Work and Pensions.
- Death Certificate(s).
- Tell us once leaflet, this is a service available in certain localities and an online / telephone service which lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go – they will email this out to you or if you prefer they will post it out to you. For more information visit www.gov.uk/tell-us-once.
You may also need to inform:
- Minister of religion or specific to the needs of the individual.
- Family doctor.
- Executors of the Estate.
- Insurance Companies.
- Jobcentre Plus (benefits).
- Department of Work and Pensions.
- Social Services (home helps, home care).
- Place of work (occupational pension).
- Residential or Nursing Home.
- Inland Revenue (tax office).
- Landlord, Housing Department or mortgage provider.
- Bank, credit card or loan companies.
- Any other financial contractual commitments.
- Council Tax offices.
- Electricity, gas, telephone, water companies.
- The Post Office (redirect mail).
- DVLA Swansea.
- Social media accounts.
- Cancel any appointments.
If your relative / friend lived alone you may need to make sure their home is secure and remove all signs that indicate that their home is empty. You may also need to collect spare keys from anyone who has them.
Items that may need returning:
- Driving Licence
- Membership cards
- National Insurance papers
- NHS equipment - please contact the team that supplied this equipment to arrange for its collection from your home.
- Visiting the Deceased
Your relative / friend will be cared for with dignity and respect in the hospital mortuary which is located within the Bereavement Centre, located at the back of Nightingale House, until you have made arrangements with your chosen funeral director.
We do not have a mortuary facility at Newton Hospital. Senior nurses on the ward are able to confirm the death and a funeral director chosen by the next of kin will transfer your relative / friend to their funeral home.
You may be able to visit your relative / friend on the ward where they have died for a short time before they are taken to the hospital mortuary or funeral home. Please speak with the ward staff for advice about this.
Funeral directors may also be able to arrange a viewing for you once your relative / friend has been taken into their care. Please contact your chosen funeral director for advice on this.
- Organ and Tissue Donation
On the 20th May 2020 organ donation law in England changed to help save and improve more lives. You may hear this system referred to as the opt-out system, deemed consent, presumed consent or Max and Keira's Law.
The opt-out system works on the understanding that all adults agree to become organ donors when they die, unless they have made it known that their decision is not to donate.
If you have not recorded an organ donation decision and you are not in one of the excluded groups, it will be considered that you agree to donate your organs, when you die.
The opt-out system applies to everyone in England, except for those who are part of what are called excluded groups.
Excluded groups are:
Those under the age of 18.
People who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action.
Visitors to England and those not living here voluntarily.
People who have lived in England for less than 12 months before their death.
Organ and tissue donation can offer you the opportunity to fulfil your relative / friend’s decision. The donation and transplantation of organs can save people’s lives. Not everyone is suitable to be an organ donor and this decision is made by specialist doctors and specialist nurses in organ donation.
Most people, however, can be considered for tissue donation and this decision is made by specialist nurses at NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT). The donation and transplantation of tissues such as skin, bone, tendons and eyes can save and improve people’s lives. Tissue donation can take place up to 48 hours after death and tissue from a single donor can save or improve the lives of up to 50 people.
You will be provided with an information leaflet about tissue donation. A referral is then made to the Tissues Services Team and they will contact the family.
Please note: being a tissue donor will not cause any delay in funeral arrangements.
- Spiritual Care
It is important that the care and support that we provide meets the needs of the whole person – their physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.
Spirituality can mean different things to different people. Religion and faith needs may be part of our spiritual needs but spirituality isn’t always about faith and religion. Everyone has spiritual needs throughout their lives whether they follow a particular faith / religion or not. These needs can include:
- The need for meaning and purpose in our lives
- The need to love and be loved
- The need to feel a sense of belonging
- The need to feel hope, peace and thanks,
Spiritual needs are connected to our physical, emotional and social needs too. We may do different things to meet these needs such as prayer, attending religious meetings, spending time in nature, listening to music, being with family and friends.
How we meet these needs and what is important in our lives may change over time, talking about how we are feeling and what is important to us can help to ensure our needs are met.
We can all help to provide spiritual care by supporting people to do things that are important to them as an individual; this may include access to faith leaders or services; encouraging people to talk about the feelings and the thoughts that enrich them or to explore their concerns and fears. Listening to what is important to the individual and supporting them to identify things that can help them, this may be by providing information, writing thoughts and feelings down or simply doing things that they enjoy and can help them to relax.
There may be times when we need a little extra support and the Spiritual Care Team is available to assist with the specific faith / religious or spiritual needs of individuals. If you would like to speak to a member of the spiritual care team please ask a member of staff.
There is a chaplain available 24 hours a day seven days a week. A chaplain may be called via the switchboard on 0151 430 1600. For non-urgent calls you can contact a member of the team on 0151 430 1657.
Our spiritual care team is here to provide care and support for the whole hospital community – this includes all of our patients, their relatives / friends, our staff and volunteers.
The Sanctuary at both Whiston and St Helens hospitals are available to all for prayer / reflection at any time.
At Whiston Hospital, the Sanctuary is partly used as a multi faith prayer room, especially on Fridays (13.00-14.00) for Muslim Prayer.
Bedside Communion is available for all patients on request, any day of the week.
- Coroner Information
A Coroner is responsible for finding out how and why someone has died. In some instances there is a legal requirement to report a death to the Coroner.
If this is necessary the death will be reported to the Coroner by the police or by the doctor who had been treating the deceased. A death must be reported if it is sudden, unknown or uncertain or in any of the following circumstances:
- The death was caused by an industrial disease /accident.
- The death occurred whilst the patient was undergoing an operation or did not recover from the anaesthetic.
- If the deceased had suffered a recent fall.
- The death was the result of a road traffic accident.
- The death was un-natural for example, self-neglect, poisoning, trauma, violence or physical injury.
- The cause of death occurred whilst in police custody, prison or was detained under the mental health act.
Everything will be done to ensure that this process is carried out quickly and observes the dignity, respect, religious and cultural traditions of the deceased.
If the death was not due to natural causes the Coroner will hold an inquest but they can usually issue a certificate so that burial or cremations can take place before the inquest.
The Coroner’s Offices are based at Southport Police Station and can be contacted on 0151 777 3480 for advice and guidance, between 8:00am and 4:00pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays)
The Coroners’ Courts Support Service is an independent voluntary organisation whose trained volunteers offer emotional support and practical help to bereaved families, witnesses and others attending an Inquest at a Coroner’s Court. For more information please visit: www.coronerscourtssupportservice.org.uk
Please see our useful links pages for support services offering advice and guidance.
- Post-mortem Information
What is a post-mortem examination?
A post-mortem examination is the examination of a body after death and can also be called an autopsy. Post-mortem examinations are carried out for two main reasons:
- At the request of a Coroner, because the cause of death is unknown, or when a death happens unexpectedly or suddenly.
- At the request of a hospital, to provide information about an illness or cause of death or to advance medical knowledge.
The reasons for a post-mortem examination
- When a person has recently died, a post-mortem examination can give valuable information about an illness and its effects on the body.
- The examination may also help to contribute to medical knowledge.
- It may help give more information about precisely why a person died, although, a post-mortem examination may not answer every question that may be asked.
- The information found at a post-mortem examination may help the relatives come to terms with the death of the person.
Types of post-mortem examination
Coroners post-mortem examination – this examination is required by law and does not need a person’s consent. This examination is performed to investigate:
- Sudden and unexpected deaths.
- Deaths where the cause is unknown and the doctor cannot issue a death certificate.
- Deaths where the cause is known or suspected to be from a cause which is not a natural disease; for example an accident or industrial disease.
Our Coroner Information page will provide you with more information.
Consented hospital post-mortem examination – this examination is usually performed at the request of the doctors who have been caring for the patient, or sometimes by the relatives who may wish to find out more information about the cause of death or illness. A hospital post-mortem can only take place with consent. Sometimes the patient may have given consent before they died.
Hospital post-mortem examinations can be limited to certain areas of the body, such as the head, chest or abdomen, and this will be discussed with you when your consent is sought. Only those organs or tissue you agree to can be removed and will be examined.
This examination requires written consent and the death must be registered before a hospital post mortem takes place.
The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) recommends that you should be given 24 hours to consider your decision about the post-mortem examination, and that you will be given the details of someone to contact if you change your mind.
For more information visit The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) website at www.hta.gov.uk
- Social Care Support
The Bereavement Register is a free service that helps to stop direct mail being sent to people who have died. We all receive direct mail which can be an irritation but when a person has died it can be deeply upsetting for the family we leave behind – a reminder of their loss. For more information visit: https://www.thebereavementregister.org.uk/.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policies and can provide benefits and services for a wide range of people. For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions.
Direct.gov provides a wide range of advice and services available from the government including:
- Claims - Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance or Widowed Parent’s Allowance (form BB1) Widowed Parent's Allowance. You may be able to get a one-off payment or regular payments if you have been bereaved.
- Funeral payments – if you are on certain benefits and need help to pay for a funeral you are arranging you may be able to get a Funeral Payment from the Social Fund. You may have to repay some or all of it from the estate of the person who has died.
For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/bereavement.
Please see the Useful Links to Bereavement Services, Help and Advice pages for links to other organisations that can provide help, support and guidance across a wide range of services.
- Social Media and Online Accounts
Over the last 10 years the internet has changed the way we interact and communicate with each other from social media, email, online banking and shopping.
The digital information that your relative / friend leaves online is often referred to as their digital legacy. This may include their social media profiles, photo’s, video’s, gaming profiles and other interactions they have had on line.
Digital assets are things that are purchased, stored or available on digital devices or online services. These may include photos, videos, music, websites, blogs and e Book.
Digital assets and digital legacies are often spread across two main locations:
- Online services e.g. social media, websites, emails and cloud services.
- Digital services e.g. mobile phones, tablets, laptops, hard drives and computers.
Digital assets may be owned by your relative / friend, their beneficiaries or online service used. Each online service will have its own privacy or end of life policy. The Digital Legacy Association provides information, advice and guidance about the most popular digital devices and online services. For more information visit: www.digitallegacyassociation.org
Your relative / friend may already have made their wishes known regarding their digital legacy and assets. If not, in time you’ll probably want to make a decision about what to do and how to manage their social media and online accounts. It can help to discuss this with other family members and friends to see how they feel before going ahead.
- Funeral Information
Your relative / friend may have left instructions or a will giving information about the type of funeral and cremation / burial they want.
You do not have to wait until you have registered the death before contacting a funeral director, although they are unable to take your relative / friend into their care until all the necessary paperwork has been issued and you have signed the hospital release form with them.
The earlier a funeral director becomes involved, the sooner they will be able to support and act on your behalf to find out when the necessary documents allowing the funeral to proceed will be issued.
If the death has been referred to the Coroner, then the Coroner’s office will advise you on what to do. Your funeral director can liaise with the Coroner for you.
Our Coroner Information page will provide you with more information.
Most funerals are arranged through a funeral director. It may be advisable to find one who belongs to one of the professional associations, such as the National Association of Funeral Directors – NAFD. Visit: nafd.org.uk or the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors – SAIF. Visit: https://saif.org.uk/. Some local authorities also run their own funeral services by arrangement with a local firm of funeral directors.
Your relative / friend might have paid for their funeral already. This is called a funeral plan. If you don’t know if there’s a funeral plan, you can:
- check the will.
- ask the person’s relatives and close friends.
- ask local funeral directors.
- search for funeral plans on the Funeral Planning Authority’s website.
Costs for the same services may vary considerably from one funeral director to another. If you want to compare costs, you can contact other funeral directors, or ask someone else to help you with this.
If you arrange the funeral with a funeral director, you are responsible for the costs. You should ask to see a price list and a choice of services available before choosing a funeral, or explain how much you have to spend. Don’t be encouraged by others to include services or pay more than you can comfortably afford.
Once you've chosen the funeral, you should be given a written estimate giving a breakdown of all of the costs involved. Ask for one if it's not provided.
Money may be released later, if your relative / friend made arrangements to pay for their funeral through an insurance or other policy, or if money is released after their estate has been dealt with.
You may be able to get help paying for the funeral if you are on certain benefits. You may be entitled to receive a Social Fund Funeral Payment from the Department for Work and Pensions providing you or your partner receive one of the following:
- Universal Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-Based Job Seeker’s Allowance
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
- Disabled Persons Tax Credit
- Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- The disability or severe disability element of working tax credit
You may also be eligible if you’re getting a Support for Mortgage Interest loan.
For more information visit: www.gov.uk/government/publications/funeral-payment-claim-form
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help with all legal and practical matters following a death, including costs. For more information visit: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/.
Age Concern provides advice and information to anyone over the age of 60 about funeral arrangements and welfare benefits. For more information: Tel: 01744 752644 or 0800 678 1602 or visit: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/.
It may be possible to agree payment by instalments, or pay after the legal process of dealing with your relative’s / friend’s estate has been settled.
Further information on what to do when someone dies visit: https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death.
Wills and Probate
If you have any queries about a will or regarding the absence of a will you can contact:
Queen Elizabeth II Law Court
Tel: 0151 236 8264
For more information visit: www.gov.uk/applying-for-probate
A useful booklet on how to obtain probate (PA2) is available from the Probate Service. Visit: www.gov.uk.
Arranging a funeral and options
The main requirements in England and Wales are as follows:
- The death is certified by a doctor or coroner.
- The death is registered with a Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths.
- The body is either buried or cremated.
- You do not have to have a funeral ceremony.
- You do not have to use a religious minister.
- A ceremony does not have to take place in a crematorium or place of worship.
- You can arrange a funeral without a funeral director.
There are increasingly more options concerning funeral arrangements than many people realise.
- Woodland burial and other green options are increasingly available.
- A variety of types and styles of coffin and funeral cars are also available.
- The majority of people choose to make their arrangements through a funeral director, but some people see ‘do-it-yourself’ funerals as more personal and less expensive. If this approach appeals, and you have time to research and prepare, enquire at the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local authority for guidance. If you want to do this, the Natural Death Centre or Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local authority can offer help and guidance.
- Bereavement and Grief
When someone close to us dies it is normal to grieve. We are all different and every person’s experience of grief is unique. The important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no timetable and the length of time is different for each person. Grief is often described as a journey. There are no short cuts, it will ebb and flow and it will be hard at times.
The death of someone close to you can be overwhelming, and you may feel a mixture of emotions, which may at first be unfamiliar and out of character. Your feelings will be influenced by many different things, including your relationship with the person who has died, your age, personality, cultural background and religious / faith beliefs and your circumstances.
We all react in different ways so it is important not to assume how someone else is feeling. Other people may have different ways of coping and grieving. This can create tensions and strains within a family or with friends. If this happens try to find a way to be sensitive to each other’s needs, whilst coping with your own feelings in your own way.
Allowing your feelings to come out can help you cope with your grief. It is completely normal to feel shock, guilt, anger, relief, despair and many other different emotions. The important thing is to accept that it is ok to have these feelings and to accept that grieving is a normal, healthy process when someone close to you dies.
It is also normal to experience physical symptoms of your grief. These may include difficulty sleeping, losing your appetite, feeling anxious or stressed, feeling drained and lacking energy, and picking up minor bugs and illnesses.
The important thing is to be kind to yourself and take the time, space and care that you need and try to do what feels right for you.
Some feelings you may experience over a period of time
Sadness: Is a natural response to bereavement, but for some people that healthy reaction may become depression. Life can feel like it no longer holds any meaning and some people may say they also want to die. You don’t have to try to cope on your own. This can be managed and your family doctor is there to help you.
Shock: It may take you a long time to grasp what has happened. The shock can make you numb, and some people at first carry on as if nothing has happened. It is hard to believe that someone important in your life is not coming back. Many people feel disorientated - as if they have lost their place and purpose in life or are living in a different world.
Pain: Feelings of pain and distress following bereavement can be overwhelming and frightening.
Anger: Is a natural emotion, typical of the grieving process. Death can seem cruel and unfair, especially when you feel someone has died before their time or when you had plans for the future together. We may also feel angry towards the person who has died, or angry at ourselves for things we did or didn’t do or say to the person before their death.
Guilt: Is another common reaction. People who have been bereaved of someone close often say they feel directly or indirectly to blame for the person’s death. You may also feel guilty if you had a difficult or confusing relationship with the person who has died, or if you feel you didn’t do enough to help them when they were alive.
Longing: Thinking you are hearing or seeing someone who has died is a common experience and can happen when you least expect it. You may find that you can't stop thinking about the events leading up to the death. Seeing the person who has died and hearing their voice can happen because the brain is trying to process the death and acknowledge the finality of it.
Other people's reactions: The way other people react to us can be difficult. This is often because they don’t know what to say or how to respond to our grief. They may avoid you because they’re worried about saying the wrong thing and upsetting you. This can be hard because you may want to talk about the person who has died. As time goes by other people's memories of your relative / friend can fade and this may also be difficult for you.
Try to remember it is normal to both grieve and live and when you find yourself not thinking about the person who has died, it does not mean that you have forgotten them, it is natural and it is all right.
Not everyone experiences these feelings, for some people the death of a relative / friend may come as a relief, especially if the person suffered or had a drawn-out death.
- Supporting Yourself
It is important to take care of yourself following bereavement. Be kind to yourself and don’t try to do too much while you’re grieving.
One of the most helpful things to do is to talk about the person who has died and your relationship with them. It may be to family, friends, a faith / spiritual adviser or a support organisation.
If you feel that you don’t want to talk, that’s ok but it is important to find other ways to manage your feelings.
- Talk to other people about the person who has died, about your memories and your feelings.
- Look after yourself. Eat properly and try to get enough rest (even if you can’t sleep).
- Go for a walk it gets you out of the house, provides some physical exercise and can help you think differently.
- Give yourself time and permission to grieve.
- Seek help and support if you feel you need it.
- Tell people what you need.
- Don’t isolate yourself
- Don’t keep your emotions bottled up.
- Don’t think you are weak for needing help.
- Don’t feel guilty if you are struggling to cope.
- Don’t rely on drugs or alcohol – the relief will only be temporary
Your GP is there to help you and you can find a list of other organisations who can offer support on the Useful Links to Bereavement Support Help and Advice tab.
- Coping and Adapting
When someone close to you dies you have to cope and adjust to living in a world which has forever changed. Learning to adapt and develop a new normal and finding new meaning in your activities and roles is part of the process of learning to live with grief.
Some of the hardest things can be simple everyday activities that can remind you that the person is not there now. You may find that you have to rebuild your own identity. Rebuilding your life in this way can be a slow process but over time your life will regain shape and meaning.
Important dates, such as birthdays and special anniversaries can be particularly hard. Thinking ahead and planning what you want to do and what will help you get through the day can be helpful.
Some people like to create new memories or a tradition, such as visiting the person’s grave, or the place where their ashes are scattered. There is no right or wrong thing to do on these occasions. You only need to do the things that are important and feel right to you.
Following the bereavement of someone close, for some people life may never be the same again, but the grief and pain should lessen. It is not unusual to think that you are moving towards acceptance only to experience the strong and often unwelcome emotions again. There should come a time when you are able to adapt, adjust and cope with life without the person who has died. This does not mean that there is no place in your life for the person who has died. The bond that you had with them will continue.
- How to help someone bereaved
One of the most helpful things you can do is simply listen, and give them time and space to grieve. Offering specific practical help, not vague general offers, can also be helpful.
- Be there for the person who is grieving; pick up the phone, write or email, if you can call in, or arrange to visit.
- Accept that everyone grieves in their own way; there is no right or wrong way.
- Encourage the person to talk.
- Listen to the person.
- Offer useful practical help.
- Create an environment in which they can be themselves and show their feelings, rather than having to put on a brave front.
- Be aware that grief can take a long time and the length of time varies for each person.
- Contact the person at what may be difficult times such as special anniversaries and birthdays.
Try not to:
- Try not to avoid someone who has been bereaved.
- Try not to use clichés such as “I understand how you feel”, “you'll get over it”, “time heals”.
- Try not to tell them “it's time to move on”, “they should be over it” - how long a person needs to grieve is different for each person.
- Try not to be alarmed if the bereaved person doesn’t want to talk or demonstrates anger.
- Try not to underestimate how emotionally draining it can be when supporting a grieving person. So make sure you take care of yourself too.
There are a number of organisations that can provide guidance and support for people who are experiencing grief. You can find more information on the Useful Links to Bereavement Services, Help and Advice tab.
- Talking to Children about Death and Dying
Talking to children and young people about death and dying may be one of the most difficult conversations you will have.
It is natural to try and protect children from painful experiences but children know when something serious is wrong.
They’ll notice unusual comings and goings, phone calls and hushed conversations.
They’ll pick up on changes in how you and other adults around them are feeling and behaving.
It is therefore, important to tell a child of any age as soon as possible when someone important in their lives is dying or has died (in a place where they can be supported and away from distractions. Ideally, this should be done by someone who is close to them).
A child’s understanding will depend on age, maturity and previous experiences. Child Bereavement UK has information that can help you understand these differences. For more information visit: https://www.childbereavementuk.org/.
Children and young people tend to show feelings with behaviours rather than words, and they absorb and process information in different ways at different ages.
Common reactions include:
- Feeling anxious or insecure.
- Being angry.
- Confusion about the death and why it has happened,
- Feeling protective of others.
- Reduced self-confidence.
- Wondering if they were somehow responsible for what happened.
Some tips to help you talk about a death with your child
- Tell the truth about what has happened as soon as possible. The truth will help them understand your tears and pain. Being open and emotional can help your child learn how to grieve.
- Be prepared for different emotional responses - your child will be upset, and perhaps, even angry at the loss. Reassure them that everything possible has been done and they are not to blame.
- Allow time together for comfort, support and any questions they may ask.
- Make sure to use the words dead or died. Many people find this uncomfortable so they use words like, lost, gone to a better place, went to sleep - but these can be confusing to a child. If grandad is lost why don’t we go and find him? Why did mum leave us to go to a better place? If I go to sleep will I die too?
- Share information in small chunks rather than all at once. This will help you to see what your child can handle and understand. You will know what else to say by the questions they ask. It is important to talk to children in a way that they understand.
- Do answer questions honestly and say "I don’t know" if asked a question you can’t answer. The important thing is your child feels they can ask questions and they are being listened too.
- Show your emotions and explain that it is ok to be sad and it is also ok to be happy sometimes when someone has died.
- Explain what a funeral is and what death means. Allow your child to be involved in planning the funeral if only in a small way - choosing a photograph for the memorial, making a drawing or card to be placed on the coffin.
- As long as a child is prepared for what is going to happen and what they will see, attending a funeral can be a helpful experience. However, you know your child best - older children can be given the choice to attend, younger children could just attend the gathering after.
- Let your child grieve in his or her own way. Children tend to show their feelings by the way they behave – they may want to be silent and alone, they may show signs of distress or anger; they may become very protective; ask questions or appear not to be affected at all. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
- Tell them about plans for the days ahead, including who will take them to school or activities. If you need to leave them, tell them when you will be home, or who will be looking after them. This will help them to feel secure.
- Prepare your child for the future without the person who has died. Talk about how it will feel to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and special moments. Ask your child to help plan for special occasions.
- Prepare to talk about thoughts and feelings - over the next few days, weeks and months. Ask questions and build memories.
- Remember to take care of yourself. We sometimes forget about taking care of ourselves during this difficult time. Children learn from what they see so be a good role model and be kind to yourself.
- Don’t hide your grief from your child. Seeing you grieve during and perhaps long after someone close to you has died will let them know that it's normal and healthy to cry and feel sad after the death of someone close.
- Don't be afraid to share memories of the person who has died. Sometimes we feel afraid to talk about the person, thinking it will cause pain to others. Re-living memories or sharing stories can actually aid healing and closure.
- Don't avoid being with your child because you feel helpless or uncomfortable, or don't know what to say. Sometimes just a knowing look can be a powerful connection. Even a touch or a hug can offer great comfort.
- Don’t change your daily routines. Children need consistency. Encourage them to keep up with school work, activities they enjoy and friendships.
- Don't think that death puts a ban on laughter. Laughter is a great healer. Being able to laugh about memories shows just how important the person who has died was in your lives.
- Don’t put a time limit on your child’s bereavement – or your own. Everyone grieves in their own way and time. Recognise that a new normal will have to be developed and that time is needed to readjust and adapt after the death of someone close to you.
- Getting support for you and your family
You do not have to do this on your own; friends and family are there to support you. You can ask for help from health professionals such as your family doctor.
Tell someone at playgroup, school, college or university so they can keep a special eye on your child and provide extra support if needed.
Organisations providing information about how to support children and young people can be found on the Useful Links to Bereavement Services, Help and Advice tab.
- Mortality Reviews
In all NHS Trusts case record reviews are carried out for a number of reasons. They are undertaken when it is suspected that there is a problem and they are also routinely carried out on a proportion of all deaths that have occurred within the organisation to identify any opportunities to learn, develop and improve healthcare.
So when a concern is raised about the care provided to a patient, by a relative or carer, a member of staff or by the Medical Examiner*, a clinician (usually a doctor), who was not directly involved in the patient’s care, will review their case records. They will look at each aspect of care and how well it was provided. If the review finds any issues with the patient’s care, we will contact their family to discuss this further and to describe the escalation processes the Trust will be undertaking.
*The Medical Examiners are doctors specifically responsible for the agreement and signing off of all death certificates.
If you require more information please email the hospital's Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Useful Links to Bereavement Services Help and Advice - A to G
Offers support for older people dealing with life issues.
E mail: email@example.com
Advice line: 0800 678 1602 (8:00am – 7:00pm every day of the year)
THE ALDER CENTRE
Provides bereavement and grief counselling services; care and education advice for anyone affected by the death of a child.
Call: 0151 252 5391 (9:00am – 5:00pm Monday to Thursday and 9:00am – 4:30pm Friday)
AMPRO – Support following suicide
Part of Listening Ear: Offering emotional and practical support to anyone over the age of 16 affected by suicide.
Call: 0330 088 925
AT A LOSS
A website directing people who have been bereaved to information and support services appropriate to their loss.
BEREAVEMENT ADVICE CENTRE
Offers practical advice and signposting on issues facing people after the death of someone close.
Call: 0800 634 9494 (9:00am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday)
THE BEREAVEMENT TRUST
Offering information, advice and support at a time of sorrow.
E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Call: 0800 435 455 (6:00pm – 10:00pm every evening of the year)
A website offering advice and guidance about funerals, wills and probate.
Offers support after a road death or serious injury.
Helpline: 0808 8000 401 (10:00am – 4:00pm Monday to Friday)
Offers help, advice, information and practical support to people who are caring for someone close to them.
Helpline: 0800 808 7777 (9:00am – 6:00pm Monday and Friday)
CHILD BEREAVEMENT UK
Offers help for children and young people aged 25 years and under, their parents and families: to help rebuild their lives when a child or young person is grieving.
Helpline: 0800 02 888 40 or Call 01539 628 311 -The local office (9:00am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday)
CHILD DEATH HELPLINE
Offers support for anyone affected by the death of a child of any age under any circumstances however recent or long ago.
Helpline: 0800 282 986 or from a mobile phone: 0500 800 6013 ( 10:00am – 1:00pm Monday to Friday, 9:00am – 4:00pm Tuesday and Wednesday and 7:00pm – 10:00pm every evening)
Offers support and advice for children and young people aged 18 years and under about any issues they are going through.
Call: 0800 1111 (9:00am – midnight every day of the year)
CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU
Helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, independent and confidential advice, and by influencing policymakers.
THE COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS
Offers support, advice and information for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings.
Helpline: 0345 123 2304 (10:00am – 4:00pm and 7:00pm – 10:00pm everyday)
THE CORONERS’ COURTS SUPPORT SERVICE
An independent voluntary organisation, whose trained volunteers offer emotional support and practical help to bereaved families, witnesses and others attending an Inquest at a Coroner’s Court.
Helpline: 0300 111 2141 (9:00am – 7:00pm Monday to Friday and 9.00am – 2.00pm on a Saturday)
Offers information and support for all unpaid carers of all ages and the people they are caring for.
Call: 01513 150989 or 07730 099854 (out of hours)
CRUSE BEREAVEMENT CARE
Promotes the well-being of bereaved adults and young people; offering support, advice and information.
E mail: email@example.com
Helpline: 0808 808 1677 (9:30am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday and 9:30 am – 8:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday)
Support for people who are bereaved through drug or alcohol misuse.
Helpline: 0300 888 3853 (9:00am – 9:00pm every day of the week)
Offers support, advice and information for single parents on a wide range of issues.
To Email please visit their website.
Helpline: 0808 802 0923 (10:00am – 6:00pm on Monday, 10:00am – 4:00pm Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10:00am – 1:00pm and 5:00pm – 7:00pm on Wednesday)
THE GOOD GRIEF TRUST
Run by the bereaved for the bereaved to offer advice, support and help to signpost people to the most appropriate bereavement support to meet their specific needs.
GRIEF TALK / GRIEF ENCOUNTER
Offers support, information and advice for adults, children and young people and a chat line to talk about their grief.
- Useful Links to Bereavement Services Help and Advice - H to Z
Part of Cruse Bereavement Care, it is a safe place where young people can learn from other young people, how to cope with grief, and feel less alone.
- Website: www.hopeagain.org.uk
- E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Helpline:: 0808 808 1677 (9:30am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday)
Offers advice to bereaved families who are facing an inquest.
- Website: www.inquest.org.uk
- Call: 0207 263 1111 (Open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday)
THE LISTENING EAR
Offers a range of counselling services following bereavement for adults, children and young people who live in or their GP is based in Knowsley.
- Website: www.listening-ear.co.uk
- Referrals: email@example.com://listeng-ear.co.uk./
- Call: 0151 488 6648 ( This is an answer phone service during the Covid19 pandemic)
THE LULLABY TRUST
Offers support for bereaved families and promotes safe baby care advice.
- Website: www.lullabytrust.org.uk
- E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call: 0808 802 6868 (10:00am – 5:30pm Monday to Friday, 7:00pm – 9:00pm Tuesday and Thursday and 6:00pm – 10:00pm weekends and public holidays)
Offers support and advice for people living with or supporting someone with a mental health problem.
- Website: www.mind.org.uk
- Email: email@example.com
- Text: 864463 (9:00am - 6:00pm Monday to Friday, except for bank holidays)
- Call: 0345 123 2304 (10:00am – 4:00pm and 7:00pm – 10:00pm every day of the week, except bank holidays)
Advice, guidance and links to services to support you through bereavement, grief and loss.
Offers support for bereaved and injured road crash victims.
- Website: www.roadpeace.org
- E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Helpline: 0845 450 0355 (10:00am – 4:00pm Monday to Friday)
- Website: www.samaritans.org
- E mail: email@example.com
- Call: 116 123 (24 hours every day of the year)
SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity)
Offers support to anyone affected by the death of a baby and promotes research to reduce the loss of babies’ lives.
- Website: www.sands.org.uk
- E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Helpline: 0808 164 3332 (9:30am – 5:30pm Monday to Friday and 9:30am – 9:30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays)
A free confidential telephone helpline offering information, friendship and advice to older people.
ST HELENS MACMILLAN CANCER INFORMATION AND SUPPORT CENTRE
For patients, relatives, carers, friends or anyone affected by cancer.
- Email: email@example.com
- Call: 01744 646985 / 647000 (9:30am – 4:30pm Monday to Friday)
Free expert debt advice to help people get their finances back on track.
- Website: www.stepchange.org
- Helpline: 0800 138 1111 (Monday to Friday 8:00am to 8:00pm and Saturday 8:00am to 4:00pm)
Help for anyone bereaved by a sudden death, whether it is a medical reason, terminal illness, injury or suicide.
- Website: www.sudden.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Helpline: 0800 2600 400 (10:00am – 4:00pm Monday to Friday)
A website offering online bereavement support for people aged 18 years and over.
- Website: www.sueryder.org
SURVIVORS OF BEREAVEMENT BY SUICIDE (SOBS)
Meeting the needs and breaking the isolation of those bereaved by the suicide of a close relative or friend.
- Website: www.uksobs.org
- E mail: email@example.com
- Helpline: 0300 111 5065 (9:00am – 9:00pm everyday)
Offers practical support for bereaved families, children and young people.
- Website: www.winstonswish.org
- E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Helpline: 08088 020 021 (9:00am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday
Offering information, advice, emotional support and signposting for parents and children / young people aged 25 years and under who have been bereaved or facing mental health and life challenges.
- Website: www.youngminds.org.uk
- To send an email please go to their website
- Parents helpline: 0808 802 5544
- Life Ledger
A free, easy-to-use service to allow families to inform all businesses connected to the deceased from one place. Saving time and removing the need to have the same difficult conversation over and over.
- In Loving Memory
Donating in memory of a loved one is a very special and meaningful way to honour a life.
Our Hospitals’ Charity have created an opportunity for you, your family, and friends to create a personalised page in memory of your loved one. You can leave personal messages, tributes, share photographs, stories, happy memories - in a way that feels right for you.
For more information, please click follow this link: Whiston and St Helens Hospitals’ Charity: In Loving Memory
Page last updated on 05th January 2023