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Putting one's affairs in order

Sponsored content: Something that we all promise ourselves to do and yet, for one reason or another, many of us never get around to doing. None of us likes to think about death, especially our own, which is one of the reasons we put things off – even making a will.

However, did you know that, in France, following a death, the funeral must take place within 6 days? There are very few exceptions to this; for example, family travelling from the UK or other parts of Europe, would not generally be one of them.

Imagine your partner or parent died tomorrow and had left no will or instructions. What would you do?

For most of us, this is a nightmare scenario, but it happens everyday. On top of the shock and grief, there is the added complication of living in a country where you are not fully familiar with the procedures and may not speak the language well enough to deal with the bureaucracy and all that is required to arrange a funeral within 6 days.

Imagine how difficult this would be – would you wish for your loved ones to be faced with this should anything happen to you? No-one can take away the sense of loss and grief but, by being better prepared, you could help them by alleviating some of the additional, immediate stress by having all your important information together in one place:

• Make a Will (un testament) and keep a copy.

• Make a list of additional wishes about things that are not covered by your will e.g. pets, personal effects.

• Who to contact e.g. Notaire, Accountant.

• A list of all bank accounts, pensions and any other investments. N.B. for couples, make sure joint bank accounts are e.g. M ou Mme and not M et Mme.

• Collate personal details – birth, marriage, death certificates, divorce decrees.

• Preferences for the funeral arrangements – burial or cremation; religious or secular/humanist; particular music and readings.

Now that you have started thinking about this, there may be other things that you may want to consider. For example, in the event that you do not have the capacity to make or communicate your own decisions, you may want to put in place an “Advanced Directive”/“Living Will” (une Directive Anticipée) to set down your wishes on future medical care and also organ donation or, more simply, name a “personne de confiance”.

Sadly, you may currently be caring for someone who has received a terminal diagnosis or have received such a diagnosis yourself when all these things suddenly become very important and perhaps very daunting at a time when time is very precious. In these very difficult circumstances, you may feel the need for some additional support - practical and/or emotional.

The Bereavement Support Network exists not only to help support English Speakers living in France who are bereaved but also those who are terminally ill and/or their carers.

If you are terminally ill or are caring for someone who is dying, we can help to support you to try and make the best of the time that is available to you. This could be through the provision of information to help you put the things in place that you want or through emotional support by listening to your concerns and fears.

We are a group of committed, trained volunteers, with the common experience of having coped with bereavement and supported those facing death or suffering from anticipatory grief as a carer. 

Our service is completely confidential and there is no fee for our time or support. If you feel we can help in any way, please call Sandra on 04 94 84 64 89 or 06 24 50 22 74 (between 07:00 and 23:00) or email us on

Further information:
What to do when someone dies in France
Arranging a funeral in France

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