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Sheringham Medical Practice

Sheringham Medical Practice

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Understanding Grief

The death of a loved one can be devastating and loss is something we will all experience at some point in our lives.  However, it can be difficult to know what is “normal” in the grieving process. 


Bereavement affects people in different ways.  There’s no right or wrong way to feel.  You might feel a lot of emotion at once, or feel you’re having a good day, then you wake up and feel worse again.  Powerful feelings can come unexpectedly.


Experts generally accept that there are four stages of bereavement.


  • Accepting that your loss is real.
  • Experiencing the pain of grief.
  • Adjusting to life without the person who has died.
  • Putting less emotional energy into grieving and putting it into something new (in other words, moving on).


You’ll probably go through all these stages, but you won’t necessarily move smoothly from one to the next.  Your grief might feel chaotic and out of control, but these feelings will eventually become less intense.  Give yourself time, as they will pass. You might feel: 


  • Shock and numbness (this is usually the first reaction to the death, and people often speak of being in a daze).
  • Overwhelming sadness with lots of crying.
  • Tiredness or exhaustion.
  • Anger, for example towards the person who died, their illness or God.
  • Guilt, for example, guilt about feeling angry, about something you said or didn’t say, or about not being able to stop your loved one dying.


All of these feelings are all perfectly normal.   The negative feelings don’t make you a bad person. Lots of people feel guilty about their anger but it’s OK to be angry and to question why.  Some people become forgetful and less able to concentrate.  You might lose things such as your keys.  This is because your mind is distracted by bereavement and grief not because you are losing your sanity.


For more help and advice about understanding and coping with grief please use the links below: 








The early hours and days:


People often describe shock soon after a death of a close friend or relative.  You may feel numb, panicky, very weepy or find that you are unable to cry at all.  You may find it difficult to sleep.  Some people may have physical symptoms such as heart palpitations.  However, some people find that they calmly go through the practical tasks surrounding the death and worry that they may be seen as uncaring.  This is just one sign of shock and it is most likely that the impact of the death will follow at a later stage.  Some people find that they are completely unable to cope and will need a lot of practical and emotional support from those around them.


You may wonder “what is the point of carrying on?”  You may experience periods of guilt and constantly find you are reviewing the circumstances of the death.  You may wonder if things could have been done differently and therefore helped the situation.  This is also common when there has been relief at someone’s death following a painful and prolonged illness.  It is worth remembering that many people feel relief when suffering ends. 


In the hours or days following a death you may feel anger.  This can be directed at the person who has died or at those around you.


Other people’s reaction to a death may be difficult for you to understand.  You may find that people may be clumsy in what they say to you or that people avoid contact with you.  These reactions are usually because people do not know what to do or say in the face of someone’s grief.  Sometimes other people do not realise that it can take a long time to begin to recover from a death.


Recovery from bereavement:


Coming to terms with a death is a very individual process.  You may find that the process takes considerable time to deal with.  After a period of time people usually find that they are able to get on with their lives and think a little less about the person they have lost.  Most people begin to feel like this within one or two years of the death of someone close to them but this will vary from person to person.  You may find that you are able to accept the death of a loved one but impossible to move on with your life in spite of this.


It is important not to feel guilty if you are beginning to build a life for yourself following a death.  It is quite normal to begin to recover and start to rebuild your life, and it is not in any way disloyal to the memory of the person who has died.





What you can do to help yourself cope with bereavement


Bereavement is always a difficult time but there are things you can do to help yourself through it.


Where possible, try to prepare yourself for a death of someone you are close to.  It is important emotionally and practically to talk things over.  Discuss with them the things which will need sorting out such as finances, make a Will, and funeral arrangements.  Make sure you say all of the things you want to say. 


Following the death carefully consider whether you wish to view the body.  Some people may find this too distressing and can regret it later whilst others find it helps.  Follow your own feelings.  There is no right or wrong thing to do – just make sure it is your decision.


Funeral arrangements should be considered carefully and may have already been arranged by the person you have lost.  If you are arranging funeral arrangements then try to make sure someone is with you and don’t feel pressured into a funeral that  you are not really looking for or one that is too over budget.


Don’t make major changes in your life such as moving home or job for example until you have had time to adjust to the death of your loved one.  The bereavement period is a time where people can make changes that they later regret.


Do make sure that you look after you own health.  This may be a time where you become prone to illnesses.  Ensure that you try and rest and eat well. 


Keep in contact with friends and family.  Accept invitations and invite people to visit.  When you feel ready find out about local events/clubs and classes.


Most importantly talk to people about how you are feeling.  You mustn’t bottle things up.  Visit your doctor if you feel you don’t have anyone to talk to.  They may suggest speaking to a counsellor. 


How friends and family can help:


Family and friends can be an enormous help at this difficult time. 

Spend time with the bereaved person, if that is what they want.

Talk and listen to them and don’t be afraid of saying the wrong thing – this is a situation many of us feel awkward about.  It may be helpful to say you don’t know what to say if that is how you feel.


Don’t be surprised if the bereaved person wants to talk and go over the same thing again and again – this is quite normal.


Don’t take anger and irritability personally – it is part of the bereavement reaction.


Talking about the deceased may be helpful to the grieving person and try not to avoid mentioning them in everyday conversation. 


Offer practical help to the bereaved person – such as with childcare or helping with shopping. 


Don’t expect too much of the bereaved person initially even if they look as if they are coping.


Include them as much as possible in social events and support them in building new links, social contacts and interests. 


Try to discourage the bereaved person from making decisions such as moving home soon after the death.  Support them in thinking through the options and implications.


If your friend or relative seems “stuck” and not coping at all well, encourage them to seek help.  The family doctor is a good place to start.  Other organisations that may be able to help can be found at the back of this leaflet. 


The practical things that need to be done following a death:


When someone dies at home you should telephone the surgery to inform the GP that the death has occurred.  If the death happens when the surgery is not open then you can call 111.  The out of hours doctor can confirm the death but can’t issue the death certificate (unless they have treated that person in the last 14 days from the reason they have died of).  If an out of hours doctor visits during the night and they are not the person’s usual GP, and the death was expected, you should show them the community nurse notes.  This will help the doctor understand the situation a bit better.  In most cases when the death was expected, the Coroner’s office will allow the body to be moved to the Chapel of Rest before the death has been certified.  The coroner’s officer will ask the person’s GP to visit the Chapel of Rest at the first available time to certify the death.  However, there is no need to rush to move the body.  If the death occurs overnight you may wish to wait until the next day before the body is moved.  If the death is an expected death then the doctor who last saw the patient will usually issue a medical certificate.  If the death occurs in hospital then the hospital doctor will issue the death certificate. 


If the death is sudden a doctor may have to talk to the police who will report it to the coroner.  A post mortem examination may be arranged.  This may also be the case if the cause of death is unknown or if no doctor is available who is certain of the cause of death. 

Community Nurses/Palliative Care Nurses:

If community (district) nurses have been involved in the care of the young person who has died, you should let them know about the death.  Your community nurse can advise you about the safe disposal of any pieces of equipment to be moved from the home.


Funeral Director:


Choosing a funeral director is sometimes done through word of mouth and recommendations from people.  You can also look in the yellow pages for names of local funeral directors.  They can be contacted 24 hours a day.  It is important to choose a funeral director with whom you feel comfortable with.  You may wish to ask questions about their arrangements, for example whether you can visit the body after it has been moved, as well as about their costs.  They are used to talking to people in your situation and should be able to help you with any questions or concerns you have.  They will also liaise with the doctors surgery with regards certificates or any other information they may need.  When you first contact the funeral directors, you may want to discuss provisional arrangements, but final arrangements should not be made until the death has been registered.


If the deceased is being cremated then a Part 2 form is required as well as a death certificate before the cremation can take place.  This form is signed by the deceased’s usual doctor and also an independent doctor who will certify the death.  This is arranged between the funeral directors and the doctors surgery.


How do I register a death?


Once you have the medical certificate you must take it to the registration office and register the death within five days.   The registrar will issue a death certificate and notification of disposal which should be given to the funeral director. 


Who can register a death?


  • A relative
  • Someone present at the death
  • An administrator from the hospital
  • The person making the arrangements with the funeral directors


When you register the death you must take with you the:


  • Medical certificate of cause of death – this is essential.
  • The deceased’s persons medical card, if available.
  • The deceased’s persons birth certificate, marriage or civil partnership certificate, if available.
  • There is no need to take the birth certificate or marriage certificate when registering, providing the informant knows the date and place of the deceased. 


You should tell the register:


  • The date and place of death.
  • The deceased’s last (usual) address.
  • The person’s full name at date of death and any previous names including a maiden name.
  • The deceased’s date and place of birth.
  • Their occupation and the name of their spouse or civil partner.  Whether the deceased was receiving any pension or other social security benefits.


The Registrar will give you:


  • The death certificate.
  • A green certificate i.e. the certificate for burial or cremation to hand to the funeral director so that the funeral can be held.  If the death was referred to the coroner other procedures may apply.
  • It is important to make some copies of the death certificate as proof of death as you will need this for bank accounts, insurance purposes and anyone else who had dealings with the deceased.



Where can I get advice and financial assistance from?


General advice and information:


Citizens Advice Bureau (CABs) provide free, independent and confidential advice on matters such as welfare benefits, housing, employment and other issues.  Check the yellow pages or the website for your local branch.  The CAB website is www.nacab.org.uk




Pensions and Benefits:


If you are the husband and wife of the deceased, and are aged 60 or over, your own pension may be affected by the death.  You will need to contact the Pension Service to inform them about the death.  You can contact Pension Services on 0345 606 0265 or visit the Pension Services website for further details and information www.thepensionservice.gov.uk


Advice about bereavement benefits and pensions can be obtained from the

Department of Work and Pension. 

Visit https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions for more information.


If you are on low income and in receipt of qualifying benefits such as Income Support, Housing Benefit, pension credit or Child Tax (at the higher rate) you may be able to get financial help to pay for some of the funeral costs.  This is a discretionary fund and the eligibility criteria are complicated.  Contact your local Job Centre Plus or Society Security Office to find out if you qualify.


Information Directory:


North Walsham Registration Office:


18 Kings Arm Street

North Walsham

NR28 9JX


Tel: 0344 800 8020

Open Monday – 09.:30 – 12:30

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 09:30 – 15:30

Wednesday – closed.


Norwich Registry Office:


Churchman House

71 Bethal Street




Tel: 0344 800 8020

Open Monday – Friday 09:30 – 16:30




Child Bereavement UK:


Tel: 01494 568900



Cruse Bereavement Care


Tel: 01603 219977



The Samaritans (Norwich)


Tel: 0845 790 9090



Age UK


Tel: 0800 169 8787



Nelson’s Journey

Bradbury Building – Smiles House, Octagon Business Park, Hospital Road, Little Plumstead, Norwich, NR13 5FH




Local Funeral Directors

Blyths and Sons

4 Cremer Street


NR26 8DZ

Tel: 01263 823155

Email: blyth1895@aol.co.uk


Foxes Funeral Directors

10 Canada Road


NR27 9AH

Tel: 01263 512427

Visit: www.dignityfunerals.co.uk



Lloyd Durham

11a Avenue Road

High Kelling


NR25 6RD

Tel: 01263 713113

Email: lloyddurham1933@aol.com


Cromer and District Funeral Directors

32 West Street


NR27 9DS

Tel: 01263 514814

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