Objectives The Bereavement Risk Assessment Tool (BRAT) seems to be useful in identifying those who are likely to suffer from the more severe consequences of bereavement. To date, however, only a few studies have examined bereavement risk using the BRAT. This study investigated bereavement risk in family caregivers of patients with cancer using the Japanese version of the Bereavement Risk Assessment Tool (BRAT-J). We also investigated the relationship of bereavement risk with psychological distress and resilience among caregivers to determine the validity of the BRAT-J. Methods We conducted family psychoeducation in the palliative care unit of Tohoku University Hospital with participants who were recruited in this study. Among the participants, 50 family caregivers provided their written informed consent and were included in this study. Participants were assessed using the BRAT-J and completed the Japanese version of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6) and the Tachikawa Resilience Scale (TRS). Results According to the BRAT-J, five individuals (10%) were in the high category of bereavement risk (level 4 or 5). We also found that family caregivers of patients experienced many different pressures, such as facing the unknown; their own work; and insufficient financial, practical, or physical resources. These issues are associated with various mental problems. Additionally, the level of bereavement risk was significantly correlated with K6 scores (ρ = 0.30, p = 0.032), and the TRS score (ρ = –0.44, p = 0.001). These correlations confirmed previous findings and that the BRAT-J can be an efficient screening tool for the bereavement risk of family caregivers of patients with cancer. Significance of results It appears that the BRAT-J is useful in predicting the likelihood of difficulties or complications in bereavement for family caregivers and could help to provide support with these issues when needed.