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What to do if the person you are caring for dies

In this section the aim is to help and advise you about what to do when the person you have been caring for has died. 


You may have been a carer for years, or only for a short time. The person you cared for may be your spouse, partner, parent, child, brother or sister, friend or neighbour. They may have been young or old, with any kind of disability. Whatever the situation, your own needs and concerns will be very personal to you and different from everyone else’s.

The aim is to highlight some of the issues that arise for almost all carers at this time, and to suggest other sources of advice for your own specific questions.The first section deals with some of the feelings that are very common when someone dies, and what you can do to come to terms with the changes in your life.


The second section is about looking after yourself, the person who may have been neglected during the time that you cared for someone else.

The third section is concerned with the practical and legal matters that arise when someone dies.

  • Some of these have to be dealt with quickly
  • others can be left for a few weeks or months until the immediate stress has worn off.

Finally we give some addresses and telephone numbers of organisations which may be able to give you further help and advice.


Your feelings

The death of someone close to you brings strange, new, sometimes scary feelings. These may be so strong that you feel battered by them. Or you may feel numb, perhaps wondering to yourself ‘I ought to be feeling sad but I’m not. What’s the matter with me?’ Everyone’s reaction is different. Everyone’s way of coping with these feelings is different, too. In this chapter we have described some of the feelings that are very common and normal after a death. You may not feel any of these emotions.

Almost certainly they will be difficult to identify distinctly. What you will probably experience, at least at the beginning, is a great muddle of different, sometimes contradictory emotions. Some of them can be very uncomfortable feelings that you don’t much want to admit to, even to yourself.

As the immediate shock of the death fades, you may find that this muddle starts to sort itself out. Some people cope best with this on their own. Others find they are helped by talking about their feelings to someone else. At the end of this booklet we suggest some sources of help.


There is no ‘right’ way of dealing with your emotions. Listen to yourself. Do what feels comfortable and helpful for you. Don’t do what other people say you ‘should’ do, unless you really want to.

Talking about the person who has died

When someone dies, those who were close often want to talk about them, as a way of remembering them and grieving for them. Friends and relatives, however, may be reluctant to talk about them, for fear of upsetting you, or perhaps embarrassing themselves. You may have to tell them that it’s OK to talk about the person who has died, and that you want them to share their memories and sadness with you.

 

You may be a very private person and not want to share intimate feelings and memories with your friends. In this case too, you may have to tell your friends what you want. People who care about you will want to be guided by you as to the best way they can help.

Feeling sad

My wife died two years ago. Now I can start to look back further than the tough times we had over her last few years and remember all the happy times we had, and mourn the lovely person she was.

Everyone needs time to mourn when someone close to them has died. Whatever your feelings about the person you were caring for, their life has been very closely bound up with yours and their going has made a real difference to you. It is important not to ignore the sadness and change this makes for you. People sometimes shrug off a death, Oh well, it was for the best’. While this may be true, it is still important to allow yourself to be sad, and to think about what their life and their death mean to you.

The funeral can be a very important moment in helping you (and the other people who were close) to mourn. It is a formal, public event when the whole of that person’s life can be thought about and valued - not just the difficulties of the last few weeks, months or years of caring.

Feeling shock

You are likely to feel very shocked immediately after the death, even if you have been prepared for it to happen at any time. You may feel quite ill - dizzy, shaky, sick or faint. You may find you can’t get your thoughts in order, and that you keep bursting into tears. If you are on your own, try to get someone else to be with you, or at least drop in now and again. They can make you a drink or something to eat, take phone calls, get in shopping, or do any other little jobs you can’t cope with at the time.


While the immediate shock will probably wear off quite quickly, the feeling of ‘I can’t believe it’ can go on for longer. You may find that you automatically carry on as though the person was still alive.
'I used to think I was going mad when I found I’d bought a packet of my son’s favourite biscuits without even noticing - and that was months after his death,' says Mary, who cared for her son with Down’s Syndrome. In fact, this is very common, not mad at all, and does wear off in time. It does not mean that you are not coping with your loss.

Feeling guilty

After my dad died it was such a relief to be able to go out shopping without worrying that he would need me while I was out. Now I sometimes feel guilty because I enjoy the freedom and not having the responsibility any more.


Many aspects of caring can make you feel guilty. There always seems to be a nagging feeling of 
‘I could do more’, ‘I could be nicer’, ‘Other people seem to manage better than I do’. 

You may also feel guilty, as Jean did, about feeling happier and relieved now that your caring responsibilities are over. You may feel guilty because you sometimes wished the person would die, and now they have.

All these feelings are very common among carers. The important thing to remember is that you did what you could. No one can be asked to do more than that. You can now enjoy a freedom you didn‘t have before - try to see that as your right, not as something you need to feel guilty about.

Guilt can be very destructive, making you feel very bad about yourself. If you are very troubled by these feelings, it would be well worth seeking some help in talking through your feelings with a counsellor.

Feeling angry and resentful

I still sometimes feel angry because I spent my teenage years looking after my mum when my friends were off enjoying themselves - jobs, college, holidays, social lives. It seemed as if life was passing me by.

Like Julie, you may have had to give up a lot to be a carer. It is very normal for carers to feel anger and resentment about their situation. Other people’s lives can seem enviable and carefree compared to yours.


When we feel angry we often take the anger out on something (or somebody) else. Often it is too uncomfortable to look at the real reason why we are angry, so we shout at the family, kick the cat,or slam the door. Sometimes that can make us feel better, but often it doesn’t, because it’s not really getting at the root of the anger.


If you always feel angry and resentful about things, it can be very helpful to talk to someone about these feelings. You may find them hard to talk about, perhaps because you are afraid they show you up as a horrible person. It is important to find someone you trust to talk to, someone who won’t condemn or criticise you for having these very natural feelings.

Feeling depressed

People get depressed when great changes happen in their lives. The death of someone close to you is one of the greatest moments of stress and change. Often feelings of depression don’t occur immediately (indeed, people often get a rush of energy in the first days and weeks after a death). Depression usually occurs a bit later, when you realise that life has to go on without the person who has died, and without the routines that you were used to and you can feel very alone.

For most people, feelings of being down, tired and low get better by themselves in time, helped perhaps by some of the things we suggest inLooking after Yourself’.
 

For a few people, however, depression becomes serious. They may feel exhausted the whole time, have no energy, no appetite, sleep badly, burst into tears without any apparent reason, and feel unable to cope with everyday life. If this is happening to you, it would be a good idea to see your GP. He or she may give you some medicine to help with this, and will also be able to suggest other sources of help or counselling. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help.

Who can help?

Usually friends, neighbours and relatives are the first and most immediate source of help, both in practical ways and in helping you come to terms with the death. They may have known you both well, and appreciate the situation you find yourself in now. They may also share many of the feelings you are experiencing. When you are bereaved, it is wonderful to have people close who will hug you, cry with you, bring you a cup of tea, help with the funeral arrangements, and support you through the immediate shock and during the months ahead.


Some people are comfortable talking about their feelings with close friends and relatives. Others may find it more helpful to talk to someone outside their immediate circle. You may have a practice nurse, or social worker, whom you know and trust, who would be able to give you some time to talk. If you have a religious faith, your minister or religious leader may be able to help. But often, it can take time before you feel ready to talk about emotional things, and these professionals may not be able to see you regularly. This is where counselling can be very helpful. Counsellors are trained to listen to you and help you untangle the things that are troubling you. One counsellor described the process as Unpacking the feelings and looking at them.’ She went on:

Once you have looked at them, it is much easier to say ‘‘Yes, I’ve felt that. I know why I felt it. There were good reasons for feeling that way. Now I can pack those feelings away and move on.’’ ’

Counsellors don't tell you what to do. However, their insights can often shed a new light on your situation which may help you understand it better. You may then be able to decide what to do for yourself.


Many organisations provide counselling, either generally, or specifically for people who have been bereaved. Your GP may have a counsellor attached to the practice, or may be able to refer you for counselling on the NHS. Some counsellors charge a fee, which may depend on how much you can afford to pay.


You may want to consider contacting the Samaritans to talk, in confidence, about how you are feeling. Phone 0345 90 90 90 any time, day or night. Your call will be charged at local rates.

Signs of recovery

The immediate sadness and shock of the death will start to fade. Other feelings will also become less intense as the weeks and months go by. As you pick up your life again, you will probably find that you are able to think about your time as a carer, and the person you cared for, in a calmer, less painful way. Your life will move on. You may be able to make plans for the future - a holiday perhaps - or to get more involved in work or social activities you couldn’t do while you were a carer. The sadness of the death may always be a part of your emotional make-up, but it will no longer be the first or only thought in your head


Looking after yourself

Dad used to go to a day centre two days a week. I always promised myself that I’d use some of that time off to do something nice, but somehow I always found I was using it just to catch up on the washing, or trying to sort out his benefits.


Many carers find that the last person they think about is themselves. The days are filled with so many responsibilities and chores that it seems almost impossible to take any time out for yourself. Arranging some time off may seem more effort than it’s worth.

Now that your caring responsibilities are over, it may be a good time to concentrate on looking after yourself. You owe yourself some of the care and attention that you have been giving to the person you cared for. This section suggests some ways which might help you.

Your health

Caring takes its toll of your health - missed meals, broken nights, tiredness, stress, maybe a bad back

from lifting. None of these symptoms, on its own, may seem important enough to go to the doctor.

Over time they can add up to a substantial burden on your health and make you feel very unwell.
If your own health is worrying you, go and see your GP. If he or she has also been the GP of the person you were caring for, they probably already know you quite well, and understand your situation. As well as dealing with any medical problems, they will know about other services in the area, such as bereavement counselling, which might be helpful. There are also many ways in which you can help yourself to keep healthy, or get back to your healthy self.

Eating well

You may have found that you rarely sat down to a proper meal while you were caring. Many carers keep going on snacks, because they are so busy they can’t spare the time to cook for themselves, or sit down to enjoy what they’ve cooked. In the long run this is not good for your digestion, and does not give you a balanced diet. Now that you don’t have to keep going in the same way, take time to prepare meals you enjoy, and to sit down to eat them. Try and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and give yourself treats too.

Sleeping well

If you have had broken nights for a long time, it can take a while before you get back to a more normal sleeping pattern. You may find that you have so much on your mind you can’t go to sleep easily, or you wake up during the night and can’t get back to sleep.

If your mind is buzzing with all the things you have to do tomorrow, keep a pencil and pad beside your bed and write these things down as they come to you. Then your mind won’t be occupied with them, and you won’t be afraid of forgetting them. Try not to worry if you are not sleeping well. Worrying that you are going to feel tired tomorrow often makes it even harder to get to sleep. Try just to rest and relax in bed. If you find it hard to relax, there are techniques you can learn. Your GP practice may run sessions to teach these, or may be able to tell you about local classes. There are also many books and tapes about relaxation.


A hot milky drink, and/or a warm bath before bed can help to relax you. Reading or listening to music can also help to make you feel sleepy.

Taking some exercise

One of the best ways of dealing with stress is to take some exercise. It will also help you sleep better. You don’t have to do anything very strenuous. Walking and swimming are both good exercise that you can take at your own pace. Many swimming pools schedule different times of the day for different activities - e.g. women only, over 50s, lane swimming, or exercise classes in the water. Local authorities run exercise classes of all kinds, for all levels of fitness, which are not expensive and often have reduced rates for people on benefits.

Going out

Many carers give up some or all of their social activities while caring. It is hard to find willing ‘sitters’ so that you can keep up regular activities such as evening classes, sports or clubs. It may seem a bit selfish, or too much hassle, to make arrangements so that you can go out and enjoy yourself. As a result, many carers lose touch with friends and feel lonely and isolated.


Now that you have more freedom to go out when you want to, it can seem a daunting prospect. It is not easy to start going out after a long period stuck at home, and there may be times when you feel too down to bother.

Don’t try to do too much at once. Can you try phoning one of the friends you’ve lost touch with and renewing contact? Would one of your neighbours like to go with you to the cinema, or to the pub?
Find out what activities are going on locally, from the paper, the library, or public noticeboards. See if someone will come with you, at least the first time, so that even if the activity turns out to be a disaster you’ve got a friend to laugh about it with.


If you belonged to a carers’ group before, you don’t have to give up your membership because you are a former carer. If you didn’t belong to a group, what about finding out if there is one locally?
Most groups have former carer as well as current carer members, and they will understand your situation better than anyone else. Carers National Association has branches throughout the UK.
Contact your nearest office for further details.


Don’t be hard on yourself, and congratulate yourself when you do make an effort to do something new. As you adjust to your new situation, you may find that going out and doing new things become easier, and you get more enjoyment and confidence from them.


Dealing with other people Many people feel very awkward after a death and don’t know how to approach the person who has been bereaved. They may nevertheless want to help in some way. And you may well need that help too. If people offer, think about what would be really helpful for you.

For example, could someone do your shopping for you, or mow the lawn? Could they do some telephoning for you? Or drive you somewhere? You may feel awkward about accepting help, but generally people are very glad to be given a useful task.


Don’t, however, let other people’s needs become a problem for you. As former carer Nicola describes:

'There was this neighbour who started coming round every day after my husband died. At first I thought how kind she was - but she really just wanted to talk about how lonely she was since her husband died. I felt sorry for her, but she made me so depressed. I started avoiding her, not answering the door when she came. I felt really childish doing this, but I couldn’t bear it any longer.'

If people try and impose their emotions on you, or give you advice you don’t need, you may have to be tough with them. Try to be very clear in your own mind about what you need and why their approach is wrong for you. Then try and tell them this, if you can, clearly and unemotionally. This can be very difficult to do, and the other person may end up with hurt feelings, but the most important thing for you at the moment is to protect yourself.

Looking to the future

While you were caring, the future probably seemed very short term. Many carers find they have so many responsibilities that they just have to take each day as it comes. The idea of planning anything in the future seems laughable. It can be unsettling to adjust to not being a carer any longer. For all the difficulties, it was your role, and an important part of your life. You may find that it is a while before you become comfortable with this change.


You may decide that you want to make great changes in your life -for example to move house. Don’t rush into making hasty decisions. Take your time to be sure that you are happy with the idea and won’t regret it later.

Finding a job

If you are still of working age, you will probably have to start looking for a job, if you haven’t been able to keep on working while caring. There are many schemes to retrain people who have been out of work for some time, or to polish up their skills. You can find out details from a local Jobcentre, public library or CAB.


Your local authority, or other local organisations, may run courses for people returning to work after a career break.

One of the most helpful things my counsellor said was ‘‘Nothing is ever wasted”. She helped me to look at the time I’d spent caring and see what I’d learnt from it - skills like organising my time, juggling lots of responsibilities, managing on little money, negotiating with social services. It made me feel so much better about myself, and more confident about applying for jobs ’ says Marie, who gave up work for five years to look after her disabled mother.

 

Practical and legal matters

The death of someone close to you is always a shock, even if they have been ill for some time. If their death is unexpected the shock is all the greater. As their carer, you have been very close to that person.


Their loss will bring painful, sometimes confusing emotions which may be hard to deal with. At the same time, you will have lots of arrangements and practical things to see to. Try, if you can, to get relatives and friends to help with these. You do not have to take on the whole responsibility. Others may be pleased to have the chance to help you and show that they care.


We strongly advise you to get a copy of a booklet published by The Benefits Agency. It is called What to do after a death: a guide to what you must do and the help you can get. You can get this booklet free from your local Benefits Agency office or Citizens Advice Bureau. It explains in much greater detail than we can here all the practical and legal matters you will have to deal with.


If the person has died at home, you need to telephone the doctor who looked after him or her. The doctor will come to see the person who has died. He or she will give you a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death and a Formal Notice that explains how you register the death.


If the doctor has not seen the person within the last fourteen days, or the cause of death is uncertain, he or she has to refer the death to the Coroner (the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland). This does not usually mean there is anything suspicious about the death. The doctor will give you the Formal Notice explaining this.


If the person has died in hospital or in a nursing home, the staff will usually telephone you straight away. You may want to go to the hospital or home to see the person who has died. You may want to talk to the ward staff. Let them know this. One of the nurses, or a hospital social worker, may be free to be with you. They will give you the Medical Certificate, signed by the doctor.


At some point you will need to collect the person’s possessions from the hospital or nursing home. They will probably keep them safe for you for a few days if you can’t cope with this immediately.

Registering the death

Deaths have to be registered within five days, in the area in which the death occurred (except in Scotland where you have eight days to register the death).


When you get the Medical Certificate you should also be given information about where the local Registry Office is, and the times of opening. If not, you can find the telephone number under Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the phone book. You don’t have to register the death yourself. Another relative can do it for you. They will need to take the Medical Certificate to the Registry Office. They should also take birth and marriage certificates, medical card, pension book and benefits books. The Registrar will need this information to complete the formalities.

The Registrar will give you:

  • Certificate for Burial or Cremation. Give this to the funeral director when you have chosen one.
  • Certificate of Registration of Death. You will need to send this, eventually, to your Social Security office - the certificate explains what you should do with it.
  • Extra copies of the Death Certificate, if you want them. It is a good idea to ask for these at the time of registering the death, as you will need several copies for dealing with the Will and other business.
  • You will have to pay for the copies.
  • Leaflets about benefits and tax.

Arranging a funeral

You do not have to hold a funeral or cremation immediately, unless you want to. It may be helpful to wait a little while to make sure that the arrangements are exactly what you want, and to give some notice to the people who want to be there.
However, you should contact a funeral director quickly. They can be very helpful both in arranging the funeral or cremation, and in advising you on all the official forms and processes. They will collect the person who has died from the hospital or from your home, and keep him/her until the funeral.


Paying for a funeral

Funeral costs can be paid out of the estate of the person who has died (their money, property and possessions). However, it may be some time before that money is available and the funeral director may need payment before then.


You should get quotes from at least two funeral directors. Make sure that everything has been included (church or crematorium fees, cars for the mourners, flowers, organist, etc.).

Even quite simple funerals cost a lot. Find out how you are going to pay for the funeral before you go ahead with the arrangements. Often the bank or building society will be prepared to release money to pay funeral costs from the account of the person who has died, even before probate has been granted (see below). They may make a cheque out directly to the funeral director’s firm.

Check also to see if any of the following can help with funeral costs:

  • Did the person you cared for take out a prepayment funeral plan?
  • Did he or she have a pension scheme or insurance plan which included a lump sum for funeral costs?
  • If he/she had National Savings, would they release money for funeral costs?
  • Did he/she belong to a trades union or professional association which pays benefit when a member dies?

You may be able to get help with funeral costs from the Social Fund if you are already getting one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Family Credit
  • Disability Working Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Benefit (rate rebate in Northern Ireland).

Check with your local Benefits Agency office, a Citizens Advice Bureau or CNA’s CarersLine to see whether you might be eligible and how to apply. However if other members of the family could pay for the funeral (even if they don’t want to), your application might be turned down. You can claim up to three months after the funeral.

If you are not eligible for a grant from the Social Fund and are having problems in finding the money for the funeral, talk to the funeral director. Some firms may agree to be paid by instalments.

Sorting out the person’s property and possessions

When someone dies, everything they own (their money, property and possessions) is called their estate. Normally the nearest relative will act as personal representative (the person who deals with sorting out the estate).

If the person who died has left a Will, this will indicate how they wanted their estate to be divided after their death. It will usually name executors (the people they want to deal with the Will). People who receive money or property under the Will are called ‘beneficiaries’. The estate cannot be used to pay bills or debts, or be divided up for gifts and inheritance, until either the Will has been granted probate (this is a formality which confirms that a Will is legally in order) or a grant of administration has been given (this is a formality which allows the personal representative to deal with the estate, when there is no Will) or in Scotland, you have confirmation.

This means, for example, that any bank accounts in the dead person’s name only will be frozen until the formalities have been done. Bank accounts in joint names can continue to be used by the other account holder.

If you had Power of Attorney for the person you cared for, because they were no longer able to deal with their own money and affairs, you should be aware that the Power of Attorney stops being in force as soon as the person dies. Don’t continue to use their bank account, or carry out any business on their behalf.


If you are the personal representative or executor, you should get some advice fairly quickly. A Citizens Advice Bureau should be able to help you. If the Will is at all complicated, you may be advised to consult a solicitor. Again, the CAB can suggest local firms who deal with this kind of work. They can also advise you about whether you would be eligible for legal aid. Getting professional advice early on can save you a lot of problems later. You can be sure, for example, that any tax problems are sorted out, all debts are identified and paid, and any arrears of benefit are claimed. Once these have been dealt with, the rest of the estate can be divided up according to the Will.

If there is no Will to specify who is to receive anything from the estate, there are legal rules which have to be followed. A CAB adviser or solicitor can explain these to you.

Sorting out your own finances

It is likely that your own financial situation will change considerably now. We suggest that you get advice on this as soon as possible. Everyone’s situation is different, so advice specifically for you is vital. You can get this advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau, Carers National Association’s CarersLine or the Social Security Benefits Enquiry Line. Below we list some points which may be relevant to you.

Benefits and pensions:

If you have been getting Invalid Care Allowance, this benefit will stop as soon as the person dies. Don’t continue to collect it, as you will eventually be asked to pay back any overpayments.
If you are getting the Carer Premium, in addition to other benefits, this will continue for eight weeks after the death.


If you get Income Support you will not have to sign on for eight weeks. However, if you do not get Income Support, you will have to sign on. Do this as soon as possible to make sure you don’t lose any entitlement to benefits. If you are looking for work, you may be entitled to Jobseekers’ Allowance. Ask at your local Jobcentre whether you are eligible.


If you are a woman who has been looking after your husband, you may be eligible for Widow’s Payment, Widow’s Pension, or Widowed Mother’s Allowance. Unfortunately, if you are a man who has been looking after your wife, there are no similar benefits available for you.


If you and your husband or wife were both getting Retirement Pension, you may be able to get extra pension, by using your spouse’s National Insurance contributions.


There are many other benefits and pensions for particular cases (for example, people affected by industrial diseases, war pensioners, lone parents). Ask a benefits adviser to check that you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to.

Housing

Housing problems sometimes arise for carers when the person they care for dies. If the property is owned by the person who has died it forms part of his or her estate and will normally pass to those people named as beneficiaries in the Will. If you are not the spouse, and not named as a beneficiary, or there is no Will, you will have no right to stay in the house.


If you were being supported financially by the person who died, you may be able to apply to the estate for some provision for your housing. However, this may be an expensive and lengthy business. If several beneficiaries each inherit a share of the property, it may have to be sold, unless you can afford to buy out the other beneficiaries.


If the person who died was a council tenant their spouse can normally inherit the tenancy and have the absolute right to stay on in the property. A partner, or other relatives, can usually inherit the tenancy if they have lived there for the last 12 months. However, these relatives may be asked to move to a different property if the landlord considers the present one is too big for their needs, or if the rented property is specially adapted for a disabled person and the landlord needs it for another disabled person. If this happens, and you do not want to move, get specialist advice as soon as possible.

If the person who died was the tenant of a private landlord or housing association, usually only the spouse or opposite sex partner can inherit the tenancy. However, some housing associations may allow other members of the family to inherit in certain circumstances. If you have any worries about your housing, get advice as soon as possible. Ask a Citizens Advice Bureau for help. They may be able to give you advice themselves, or refer you to a law centre or specialist housing advice service. Take along all the relevant documents, tenancy agreements, etc. so that the adviser can check exactly what your position is.

 

Further information

Other organisations which may be able to help you. If you have any further queries, or need help, please call Carers National Association’s CarersLine (details below).

 

Carers National Association

Information and advice over the telephone or by letter on the practical, financial and emotional aspects of being a carer. A nationwide network of branches and groups which support carers and provide an opportunity to share experience and information.

Contact national or regional office for details.

20-25 Glasshouse Yard,
London EC1A 4JT
CarersLine 0345 573 369 (local call rate)
Mon-Fri 10am-midday 2-4pm

Northern Ireland
1st Floor
11 Lower Crescent
Belfast BT7 1NR

Tel: 01232 439843

Scotland
91 Mitchell Street
Glasgow G1 3LN

Tel: 0141 211 9141

Wales
Pantglas Industrial Estate
Bedwas
Newport
Gwent NP1 8DR

Tel: 01222 880176

North of England
8th Floor
St James’s House
Pendleton Way
Salford M6 5FW

Tel: 0161 737 5667

Newcastle
c/o Newcastle CVS
Mea House, Ellison Place
Newcastle NE1 8XS

Tel: 0191 221 1491

The Samaritans
Confidential emotional support available by telephone 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

Tel:. 0345 90 90 90

Also accessible by personal visit during the daytime and evening (see your phone book for the address of your local branch)by letter: write to:

PO Box 9090,
Slough,
SL1 4UU

by e-mail at one of the following addresses:

jo@samaritans.org - for callers who are happy to have their identity known
samaritans@anon.twwells.com - for callers who wish to remain anonymous by textphone, for people with hearing or speech impairments.

Many branches have installed a textphone. The ear symbol in the phone book publicises this facility. Or you can use one of two national textphone numbers:

North: 01204 31122
South: 0181 780 2521

Typetalk - This is a method of communication which enables hearing- or speech-impaired people to make contact through a Typetalk operator. The caller types the message on to their textphone and the operator speaks the words to the Samaritan volunteer who received the call on an ordinary phone. The volunteer’s response is heard by the operator and typed back to the caller’s textphone.

Third party referral - The Samaritans will respond sensitively to requests from those concerned about people in crisis and, whenever possible, will make contact. Being aware of this facility might be particularly valuable to someone in contact with a person who gives them cause for serious concern.

Citizens Advice Bureaux - Free confidential advice and information on many subjects: including local services, sources of support, benefits, housing and financial problems.

Look in the phone book for the phone number and address of your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau. You can usually visit or contact them by telephone.

Benefits Agency Freeline Social Security
For free, confidential advice and information on services provided by the Benefits Agency:

in English: 0800 666 555
in Chinese: 0800 25 24 51
Punjabi: 0800 52 13 60
in Urdu: 0800 28 91 88

Benefit Enquiry Line (for people with disabilities)

0800 88 22 0
BEL textphone: 0800 24 33 55

For enquiries about National Insurance contributions, look for your local office number in the phone book under ‘Contributions Agency’.

Age Concern - A national organisation which provides services for elderly people andtheir carers through a network of local branches. Some groups offer bereavement counselling. Age Concern produces useful publications and information sheets.

Look in the phone book for the number of your local branch or contact:
Age Concern England
Astral House
1268 London Road
London SW16 4ER

Tel: 0181 679 8000

Age Concern Scotland
113 Rose Street,
Edinburgh EH2 3DT
Tel: 0131 220 3345

Age Concern Wales
Fourth Floor
1 Cathedral Road
Cardiff CF1 9SD

Tel: 01222 371 566

Age Concern Northern
Ireland
3 Lower Crescent
Belfast BT7 1NR

Tel: 01232 245 729

Help the Aged - A national organisation which aims to improve the quality of life for elderly people. They produce a number of helpful publications and offer a free telephone advice line (see below).
Look in the phone book for the number of your local branch or contact the head office at:

St James Walk,
London EC1R

Tel: 0171 253 0253

SeniorLine is Help the Aged’s free national information service for senior citizens, their relatives, carers and friends:

Tel: 0800 289 404
Minicom: 0800 269 626

Counsel and Care for the Elderly provides advice and support and factsheets for people who have been bereaved.
Twyman House
16 Bonny Street
London NW1 9PG

Tel: 0171 485 1566

0845 300 7585 (local call rate)

The National Association of Widows - offers advice and information and an network of self-help groups, also a contact list of younger widows, and a free pen club.

54-57 Allison Street
Digbeth, Birmingham B5 5TH

Tel: 0121 643 8348

The Royal British Legion gives advice and information to all ex-service men and women, their spouses and dependants.
48 Pall Mall
London
SW1Y 5JY

Tel: 0171 973 0633

Legionline - for all ex-service information:

0345 725725

SSAFA - offers advice, help and support to families of servicemen and women who have died.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother House
19 Queen Elizabeth Street
London SE1 2LP

Tel: 0171 403 8783

National Association of Funeral Directors -  Members of this trade association abide by a code of practice. The Association will follow up complaints.

618 Warwick Road
Solihull
West Midlands
B91 1AA

Tel: 0121 711 1343

Shelter - A national organisation which advises anyone in housing need Shelter National Office:

88 Old Street,
London, EC1V 9HU

Tel: 0171 253 0202

Shelter Northern Ireland
165a University Road
Belfast BT7 1H

Tel: 01232 247 752

Shelter Scotland
8 Hampton Terrace
Edinburgh EH12 5JD

Tel: 0131 313 1550

Shelter Wales
25 Walter Road
Swansea SA1 5NN

Tel: 01792 469400

The Compassionate Friends - A nationwide service for parents whose child, of any age, has died, offers befriending, support and understanding through a national telephone helpline, local telephone support or visits, one-to-one and group support, and publications. All contacts are volunteers and themselves bereaved parents.


Special support groups for parents with no surviving children; grandparents; parents of murdered children; parents whose child has died by suicide;

Bereaved Siblings.
53 North Street
Bristol, BS3 1EN

Helpline: 0117 953 9639

Terrence Higgins Trust - Offers counselling to people who have been bereaved through AIDS. Mainly London based, but can refer you to a local organisation if you live outside London.

52-54 Grays In Road
London,
WC1X 8JU

Helpline: 0171 242 1010

Legal helpline: 0171 405 2381 (Mondays and Wednesdays 7-9pm)

Lesbian and Gay Bereavement Project  - Offers support and advice to lesbians and gay men bereaved by the death of a same-sex partner.

Vaughan M. Williams Centre
Colindale Hospital
London
NW9 5HG

Tel: 0181 455 8894
(An answerphone message gives the name and phone number of the member on duty that evening)

Cruse - Bereavement Care - Free counselling service for bereaved people, opportunities to meet others through bereavement support groups and advice or information on practical matters.

Contact the head office at:

126 Sheen Road
Richmond
Surrey TW9 1UR
Cruse Bereavement Line:

0181 332 7227

Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service - Bereavement counselling and support by trained voluntary counsellors. Covers north, north west and southwest London.

PO Box 6748,
London,
N3 3BX
Tel: 0181 349 0839

BACUP (British Association of Cancer United Patients)  - Offers information, emotional support and counselling to people who have been bereaved through cancer.

3 Bath Place
Rivington Street
London
EC2A 3DR

Tel: Information: 0800 181 199

Counselling: 0171 696 9000

Counselling in Scotland 0141 553 1553

British Association for Counselling - can provide information on counselling services and specialist counsellors in your area on receipt of an A5 SAE.

1 Regent Place
Rugby
Warwickshire
CV21 2PJ

Tel: 01788 550 899

Carers association