End of life care

11. After the person has died

After the person has died As a carer, you will experience and approach bereavement in your own way and it is important that you are supported to grieve as you need and want to. You may experience a range of emotions, including:

  • numbness
  • finding it difficult to accept the situation
  • anger
  • regret
  • sadness
  • relief
  • feeling isolated
  • loss of purpose.

You may feel very strong emotions, or you may feel that you have no strong emotions left. Sometimes, other people may assume that you have already grieved for the person with dementia as their condition has worsened. Whether or not this is something you’ve felt, many people will still feel grief when the person dies.

The period around the funeral is often a time when others offer most support. Afterwards you may need time to adjust to no longer caring for the person (this is sometimes called a ‘delayed bereavement’). You may need to rebuild friendships that your caring role put on hold. You may continue to need emotional support during this time, but you may find that fewer people offer it.

Talking through feelings with family and close friends can often provide comfort, so try to tell people when you feel you need this support. If you need more support or are becoming depressed (which is different from grieving), ask your GP about local bereavement services or contact Cruse Bereavement Care (see ‘Other useful organisations’). Your local carers’ centre may also be able to help. For more information see factsheet Grief, loss and bereavement.

What to do after the person has died

There are practical issues to think about after a person dies. Though you may find it difficult, it is important to think about the following:

  • registering the death
  • funeral plans
  • changes to financial and legal documents and benefits.

You can find out more from your local Citizens Advice (see ‘Other useful organisations’).