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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Image of a woman looking at belongings

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.

Image of a hand holding a pen

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.

Image of a bedroom with photos on the walls - Sue Ryder advice and support

Can you choose where you want to die?

Choosing where to die can be hard to think about. But being in the right place for you can be really important when you know your life is coming to an end. Although your needs may change over time, most people find it helpful to think about what they would like before they become too ill.

Image of Sue Ryder nurse holding a patient's hand

Helping someone close to death

There are lots of things that you can do to make someone as comfortable as possible in their final hours. These are a few things that, from experience, we know can really help to make a difference.

Photo of someone holding a tea cup - Sue Ryder advice and support information

Telling people about your diagnosis

Telling the people you love that you have a limited time to live can be one of the hardest things you ever have to do - particularly when you are trying to cope with the news yourself.

Photo of carer and patient holding hands Sue Ryder advice and support information

Can I get support as a carer?

You don’t have to do it all yourself, but it can be hard to know what support is available and how to get it. There are lots of different kinds of support and you may find some more useful than others.

Photo of a woman talking to another woman - bereavement support Sue Ryder

How can I cope with bereavement?

The death of someone close to you can feel overwhelming, and you may feel a mixture of emotions. There are some things you can do that may help you to cope and there are people who can support you if you need it.

Image of a Sue Ryder nurse hugging someone

What can I expect when death is near?

Although everyone is different, there are some common things that happen as part of the natural process of dying. At this stage, the person who is dying is often unaware of many of these things. But it can help those who care for them if they know what to expect.