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What to do when someone dies

What to do when death occurs

At the time of bereavement there are certain practical steps that must be taken. These arrangements have to be made at a time when there is natural emotional stress and upset amongst family and friends. We are here to provide practical and emotional support.

Things to do as soon as possible

If a death occurs at home there are a number of people who should be contacted as soon as possible.

They are:
a) The family doctor
b) The nearest relative
c) The Funeral Director

(and please, if you think there are any unusual circumstances at all – for instance, if death was accidental, sudden, violent, or in the case where the cause was completely unknown – then contact the police at once. Do not touch or move anything in the room.) If the person dies in a hospital or nursing home then they will take care of any immediate arrangements and notify the doctor for you (but it would be helpful to let them know your choice of funeral director in advance).

What happens next?

If the cause of death is quite clear the doctor will issue:

a) a medical certificate. This is an official notice of the cause of death. It is sealed and in an envelope addressed to the Registrar of Births and Deaths and will be needed when the death is registered.

b) a formal notice confirming that the doctor has signed the medical certificate. It will also give information about how to register the death.

If the cause or circumstance of the death is in any way uncertain it will probably be reported to the Coroner. This means that there may be a delay. The Coroner may need to arrange for a post-mortem examination. If this occurs, advice can be obtained about what has to be done from the Funeral Director who will be available for help and advice at any time.

How to register the death

This should be done as soon as possible (most certainly within 5 working days) after the death, as long as there has been no problem establishing the cause and circumstances of the death. Wherever the death occurs, whether at home or in hospital – it must be registered with the Registrar of Births and Deaths for that area. The name and address of the Registrar will be on the envelope containing the medical certificate. The Registrar will require the following information about the deceased person:

a) date and place of birth
b) maiden name if a married woman
c) date and place of death
d) former occupation

The registrar will also ask for the medical certificate and to see the deceased’s medical card. If you cannot find these, don’t worry – just explain to the Registrar. The Registrar will give you a green certificate which should be handed to the Funeral Director.

Help for you

Our service extends beyond the day of the funeral and if there are any further problems or difficulties of whatever nature, we will be able to put you in contact with people who are willing and able to offer practical help, understanding, sympathetic counsel and comfort.

Useful Links

The Coroners role
Essex.gov.uk

Help with funeral costs
direct.gov.uk

FAQ about burial and cremation tameside.gov.uk/bereavements/faqs

The Bereavement Register
the-bereavement-register.org.uk

Find details of local Register Offices on our contact page - click here

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