A Practical Guide On What To Do When Someone You Love Dies

It is a heartbreaking moment when someone you love dies, and through the sadness and often confusion, you have to deal with so many things. I have written this guide based on my previous experience of being a mental health nurse, from personal experience of death in my family and from my research into practical guides on what to do. Here is a practical guide on what to do when someone dies.

Get paperwork in order

Firstly the practicalities. You have to do three things in the immediate aftermath when someone dies, get a medical certificate from your GP or doctor, register the death within 5 days (8 days in Scotland) and arrange the funeral. If the death is not straightforward, it was not in the UK or it has been reported to the coroner you need to gain further advice on what to do when someone dies.

When you register the death you’ll get a 'certificate for a burial' to give to the funeral director or an application for cremation which you need to complete and give to the crematorium. You must do one of these before the funeral can take place. 

Organise the funeral

You need to think of their wishes and what they wanted for their funeral. Were they religious or not?
 Did they want to be cremated, did they want to be buried or did they want a humanist funeral? Certain religions have rituals that you have to follow.  Talk to your local funeral director about your loved one's wishes. A site like localfuneral.co.uk can help you find one and advise you on what you need to do.  

Think about who they would have wanted at their funeral, and who you feel you should invite.  Think about what type of service and what type of music they would they have wanted. 

Deal with the will and finances

You need to tell the Government if someone has died. The Tell Us Once service allows you to do that. You will need details like their National Insurance number, passport number,  date of birth and so on and they will then notify the relevant government services like the DVLA, the HMRC,  certain pension schemes, and the passport office.

If the person is a close family member or friend or you are the executors of the will you may have to deal with the will, money or property of the person who has died. You may have to apply for probate, the right to deal with their estate. For further information check out this page from the UK Government and this page by the Money Advice Service

Allow yourself to grieve

In the days and months following your loved one's death, you may be so busy organising everything you may not have allowed yourself to grieve, feeling that you need to keep strong. You may even feel numb.  However, it is so important that you do allow yourself to grieve. 

It is important to talk about your loved one, to remember them and the things you did together to keep their memory alive and to help you cope. There are certain stages you may go through including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and eventually acceptance but people grieve in different ways and no two people go through the same process. Tears may come for many of us, whilst some people feel they cannot cry.  If someone you love has been in pain or suffering for a long time it may mean you feel relief that they have died. This does not mean you are a bad person.

Cruse is a great organisation that can provide support through bereavement for those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, whilst the charity Marie Curie also lists organisation that can help you with support when suffering a bereavement

This is a simple practical guide on what to do when someone you love dies. For more in-depth advice, check out this article on what to do when someone dies from the Money Saving Expert website.

*Collaborative post


  1. This is so sympathetically written and useful, I'm blessed that I still have those closest to me alive. thanks, Mich X

  2. We have recently been through this as my grandma died a few weeks back. It's so important to grieve, it's too easy to get caught up in the paperwork.