Advice and support

When you find out that someone you love is dying, it can be hard to know what to do next. This information will help you find your way.

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Supporting a child when someone is dying

Even young children can pick up on how people around them are feeling and changes in routine, whether you have told them what is happening or not. These changes can feel very worrying and frightening, but there are ways that you can help them to cope.

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Telling a child a loved one is dying

Only you know when the time is right and the best way to tell your child that someone they love is dying. This can be incredibly hard, but there are some approaches that can help.

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What is it like to be a carer?

You may not think about yourself as being a carer, you may simply see yourself as someone’s friend, partner, daughter or son. But if you’re looking after a person who can’t manage without your help, then you are a carer.

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Should children come to the funeral?

You know your child best and whether it feels right for them to go the funeral will depend on a range of factors - such as their age, their relationship to the person who has died, and whether they want to go. There is no right or wrong answer. But offering your child the option to go is one opportunity for them to say ‘goodbye’ to a special person.

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How do I organise a funeral?

Organising a funeral for someone you love can be stressful and overwhelming at a very emotional time. However, many people find funerals are a chance to gather with those who cared about the person who has died and celebrate their life.

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What needs to be done after a loved one dies?

Although this is likely to be a very emotional time, there are still some formal things that need to happen. Although it can feel overwhelming, remember that you do not need to do everything yourself. This is often the time when friends and family can help you by doing some of the practical tasks.

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How do I sort out money and belongings after a death?

Most people leave behind some possessions when they die, which might include money, property and their belongings, and together these things are called their ‘estate’. These are usually passed on to family, friends and people or organisations such as charities that your friend or relative has specified.

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Who do I need to tell about the death?

Sharing the news that your friend or relative has died is one of the most difficult and immediate responsibilities. If the person who has died has nominated you as executor, you will be responsible for sorting out their property, and carrying out the instructions in their will. This includes notifying friends and family, as well as formally notifying a number of people and organisations.

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Registering the death

Registering your loved one's death is one of the first things you need to do after they have died. You can start planning their funeral beforehand, but you will not be able to actually hold it until you have registered their death. Legally, you need to do this within five days (it's eight days if you're in Scotland), and you’ll then get the documents you need for the funeral.

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What happens immediately after a death?

Even though you know the person is dying, and you can try to prepare yourself, it is hard to know how you might feel when they actually die. Some people feel shocked or numb, whilst other people might feel overwhelmed with sadness, or even anger. It is also normal, particularly if it has been a long illness to feel a huge relief. You may find it helps if you have already thought of someone you can call who can be with you and support you at this time.