Over time your caring role will change and may come to an end. The person you cared for may no longer need your support, or perhaps they are now looked after by someone else. However, caring often ends when the person you care for dies. Whatever the circumstances this can leave a big gap in your life and brings very mixed emotions. There will be practical matters to deal with and adjustment to changes as you ‘rebuild’ your life.
After someone dies, help and advice should be offered to you from the point of registering the death. Guidance given to you by the Registry Office will take you through the steps of organising the funeral and informing people and organisations that need to know.
Tell us once is a service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go, including the Department of Work and Pensions, the DVLA, the tax office and your local council.
If you live in South Gloucestershire you can use a service provided by the council in partnership with the Department of Work and Pensions.
If you live in Bristol you can find local information about registering a death on Bristol City councils website.
The Citizens Advice Bureau has lots of information about death and how to cope with all the practicalities.
National Association of Funeral Directors gives guidance on arranging a funeral.
Down to Earth provides practical support for people struggling with funeral costs: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) has produced an information sheet compiled with the support of independent funeral directors from around the UK. They give advice for remembering a loved one, particularly if you’re unable to attend a funeral.
Whatever the reason for your caring role coming to an end, you may go through a grieving process as you miss the person and that intense relationship you had in caring for them. It is normal to feel bereft and to feel anxious about the future.
Following bereavement, the loss of a loved one is one of the hardest things that anyone has to cope with. There are many practical things to deal with as well as your grief and the different emotions you may feel around your loss.
Talking to someone about how you feel may help.
Carers UK website has a section on ‘life after caring’.
If you have been bereaved and you are struggling, you might want to think of ringing a helpline. This might not be something you have thought about before, but it might be worth considering. You don’t need to go through this alone.
Remember the person at the other end of the phone is there to listen without judgement. Your conversation will be private and confidential. All these services are free.
The Harbour support adults (18+) who are dying, or have someone close to them who is dying, and people who have been recently bereaved from a physical life-threatening illness: 0117 925 9348
Cruse Bereavement Care Bristol provides advice, information and support to anyone who has been bereaved: 0117 926 4045
Marie Curie Bereavement Support Line provides emotional support as well as practical information, whether you want to get help with arrangements or discuss coping and adapting to life after a bereavement: 0800 090 2309
Sudden supports people bereaved in sudden or shocking ways, particularly during the first days, weeks and months of bereavement. They are also there if you are caring for someone bereaved unexpectedly, and want help and support: 0800 121 6510
The Good Grief Trust – run by those who are bereaved, provides reassurance and support: 0800 2600 400
The Compassionate Friends – for bereaved parents: 0345 123 2304
For children and young people
The Rainbow Centre supports families living with children under 18 years old who have been affected by bereavement or life-threatening illness: 0117 985 3343
Let’s talk about loss is for young people (age 18-35) who have been bereaved.
Winston’s Wish supports bereaved children and young people under 19 as well as their parents/carers and siblings: 08088 020 021
Grief Encounter supports children and their families to help alleviate the pain caused by the death of someone close: 0808 802 0111
Online bereavement communities
There are several online communities and forums where you can discuss what you’re going through in a confidential and safe environment. These are free of charge but you may have to provide some basic information to create an account.
Grief Chat is a safe space for grieving or bereaved people to be able to share their story, explore their feelings and be supported by a qualified bereavement counsellor. You can chat to the team via a “grief chat box” which is very easy to use. It is free of charge and is open Monday-Friday.
Marie Curie Online Community is a space for you to share thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Sue Ryder Online Community is a place to share experiences, get things off your chest, ask questions and chat to people who understand.
Winston’s Wish (for bereaved children and young people) is designed to help you talk about your grief and manage your grief when you do feel like you need help.
Books and reading materials
You may not wish to communicate with others online or on the telephone but instead, explore bereavement and grief at your own pace. There are some reading materials available which we hope you might find of use.
The Good Grief Trust has a page with stories from others who are bereaved and articles explaining how people deal with their own grief early on. There is advice from professionals which you may find useful.
Beyond Words provide books, e-books and downloadable resources for people who find it easier to understand pictures than words, including people with learning difficulties.
There have been many books written about grief and bereavement but here are some recommendations:
The grief book by Debbie Moore and Caroline Cowperthwaite
A grief observed by C.S.Lewis
Dying to know by Andrew Anastasios
‘You’ll get over it’: the rage of bereavement by Virginia Ironside
Languages of Loss by Sasha Bates
Blogs and podcasts
It might also be worth exploring whether there are any bereavement blogs which you find supportive. These tend to be less formal.
Let’s talk about loss is a charity that publishes a regular bereavement blog which you can sign up to receive.
It can be helpful to hear others tell their bereavement stories and experiences. Good Grief Bristol created an article listing the “10 best podcasts on grief” which is worthwhile reviewing.
It’s important that you let the DWP know of any change in circumstances to avoid a possible over payment of benefit. If someone’s pension or welfare benefits are paid after they are no longer eligible, the Department of Work and Pensions will ask for it back.
- If the person goes into residential care, they will usually stop getting their disability benefit after 28 days. When their disability benefit ends, carer’s allowance will also stop. Some people may continue to get their disability benefit, and if they return home every week and you are still providing 35 hours of care over that period, you could still get carers allowance.
- If you are receiving any carer premium or addition on your means tested benefits, this will usually continue for an extra eight weeks after your carers allowance stops.
- If the person you cared for has died, you will continue to get carers allowance for up to eight weeks after their death. It might be a good time to have a benefits check as your entitlement to other benefits may change.
- If you are of working age and your spouse or civil partner dies, you may be able to claim bereavement support payment. Find out more on the Citizens Advice Website.
When carers allowance stops, if you are of working age and wish to claim other benefits you may be expected to look for work by the Department of Work and Pensions. If you cannot find employment straight away, you could apply for jobseekers allowance or universal credit. If you are not well enough to work, you could be eligible for employment and support allowance.
If you are over state pension age, consider getting a benefit check done to see what you could be eligible for.
If you have been caring for a long time, you may feel a loss of purpose and a sense of not knowing what to do with yourself. It is important to take some time for yourself before embarking on a new endeavour. Do something you enjoy; get some rest; catch up with family and friends.
If you are feeling isolated after many years of caring, there is support for you from others in a similar situation. In Bristol and South Gloucestershire, former carers groups meet monthly to share experiences and develop new friendships.
Carers UK gives some good advice on ways of coping with the changes when you are no longer caring.
Carers Support Centre can continue to support carers for up to a year after they have been bereaved during which time you can continue to receive our Carers News and make use of our services where appropriate.
Some carers need to think about about returning to work which can be a daunting prospect. Carers Support Centre has a team that can support you to feel more confident and better prepared to access training, volunteering and employment opportunities.
Carers Support Centre also has its own volunteering opportunities. We offer a supportive and friendly environment for our volunteers who receive full training and support. Your experience of caring will be valued and we have an understanding of what you may be feeling.
In time you may want to become involved in our community activity events which are organised by our friends group. This enables us to raise funds for Carers Support Centre so we can support more carers. However much or little time you have, and whatever skills, we would love to hear from you.