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When Someone Dies

Whether a death was expected or not, when someone dies, many people feel worried and unsure about what to do next.

For those left behind, it is a very difficult time, having to come to terms with the loss of a family member, or friend, and having to deal with the immediate practicalities and contacting a funeral director. These are the following steps you take when someone dies.


When someone dies at home and the death is expected

Call their doctor, if it is out of hours, then call 111. The doctor will attend to verify the death, and, once this has taken place, it may be your wish that the deceased be taken to our Chapel of Rest. To arrange this, call us, any hour, day or night, on 01208 812626. If you would like the deceased to remain at home for a little while, please advise us, as soon as possible, and we will guide you on this.

The doctor will issue a Medical Certificate for the cause of Death, and email it to the registrar.


When someone dies suddenly and unexpectedly.

When someone dies suddenly, as the result of an accident or industrial desease, soon after admission to hospital or the doctor is not certain of the cause of death, the case will often be referred to the Coroner’s Office.

It is still a good idea to contact us at an early stage. We can guide you through this proceedure, and, if you wish, take provisional details for the funeral, also help with some early arrangements, and we will liaise with the Coroner’s Office for you.

The fact that the death has been reported to the Coroner should not cause you undue alarm. It is simply the process with which the cause of death must be established.

Sometimes the Coroner may be able to deal with the case by consultation with the doctor. The Coroner may then agree that the doctor can issue a death certificate and registration can take place as normal.

In cases that cannot be resolved by consultation between the doctor and Coroner, the Coroner could require a post-mortem examination to establish the cause of death. The Coroner may then allow registration to take place, or require an inquest to establish the identity of the deceased, when and how the death took place, and the actual cause of death.

Following the opening of the inquest, it will then be adjourned, and reconvened at a later date, having gathered relevant information in relation to the death. When the inquest is adjourned, the Coroner will issue interim death certificates to allow the next of kin to start administering the deceased's estate. You will be advised when the date the funeral can be arranged.


When someone dies in professional care.

If the death has occurred in a hospital or hospice, it is usually expected by the doctor’s treating the patient. This means that the doctor will issue the Medical Certificate of the cause of Death, which will be emailed to the registrar. The bereavement office will liaise with ourselves as to when the deceased can be taken to our Chapel of Rest. You can also contact us and we will advise you further.


When someone dies abroad.

If you are abroad with someone when they die, contact the British Embassy, High Commissioner, or nearest Consulate. They will be able to offer advise and help you with arrangements. If you are on a package holiday, tour operators or reps may be able to put you in touch with the right authorities. If unsure, contact us, and we will be able to help and advise you.

If you are at home in the UK when a loved one dies abroad, you may be informed of the death by a member of your local police force or the British Consulate. If you are informed by someone else, be sure to contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Again, contact us, and we can help with guidance and advice.




In most circumstances, it is a legal requirement for deaths to be registered within 5 working days. Registering the death will give you the documentation you need for the funeral, although we can start making arrangements and give you advice before that.

The person who registers the death is usually a relative of the person who has died. If no relatives are available, then the death can be registered by; anyone who was there when the person died, someone who lives in the same place where the person died, or the person who is taking responsibility for arranging the funeral. The person who registers the death will need to visit the local registrar, which will mean making an appointment. Their contact number is 0300 1234 181.

Once you have registered the death, the Death Certificate will be issued, and you will be asked how many copies of this you require. There is a standard charge for each copy you request. A formal copy of the Death Certificate will be requested by banks and building societies, pension providers, insurance companies etc. We do not require a copy of this form. At this time, the certificate for burial or cremation will also be issued. This is often called ‘The Green Form’. This is required for the funeral to take place, and will be emailed to us by the registrar.

At the end of the appointment the registrar can provide a free, simple service called Tell Us Once, which can securely pass information about a death directly to most government organisations in one go.