When someone dies

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 for when someone dies.

Our first response team

One of the most important aspects of the service we provide is caring for your loved one.

Our First Response Team are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We have funeral directors that you can speak to, plus a team who will collect your loved one if they have passed away at home. Call us on 01206 760049, or contact your local branch.

Very often, our First Response Team will be your first contact if someone dies at home, and they also receive visitors to our Chapels of Rest. In times of immediate need and great distress, they provide quiet reassurance, support and compassion, which is so much appreciated by families.

Practical steps and formalities

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:

The family doctor, The nearest relative, The Funeral Director

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 to do next

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

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

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:

Date and place of birth, Maiden name if a married woman, Date and place of death, 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. For more information, please contact us.

The Coroner’s Role

The Coroner’s role is to be an independent judicial officer who is appointed by the crown.

The Coroner is responsible for investigating:

  • Violent or unnatural deaths
  • Sudden deaths with no known cause
  • Deaths which have occurred whilst a patient was undergoing surgery, or did not recover from an anaesthetic
  • Deaths caused by an industrial disease
  • Deaths in police custody or in prison

In particular, the Coroner must be informed if the deceased was not attended by a doctor during the last illness; or the doctor treating the deceased had not seen him or her within the 14 days before death.

How the Coroner speaks with the relatives of the person who died

The Coroner has a team of officers who receive reports of deaths, make enquiries, and keep relatives informed.  You’ll speak to these officers when you contact the Coroner. Your funeral arranger will also be in constant contact with the Coroner’s office to keep you informed.

Whatever the Coroner decides, the next of kin will be told what will happen.

An inquest is a legal proceeding held by the Coroner to find out:

  • Who died
  • When they died
  • Where they died
  • How they died

The Coroner’s officers will guide you through the entire process. For more information on this role please contact us, we are always open to train and educate people about the funeral services that are on offer.

Arranging the funeral

There are a lot of aspects to consider in order to make sure that the funeral you attend is representative and honouring to your loved one. Our funeral arrangers will help you to achieve this.

Read more

Help with funeral costs

We understand that it can be difficult to find the resources to pay for a funeral, which is why some people now take out a funeral plan. The UK Government does also help with some of the cost of a funeral, if you receive certain benefits. If you live in England or Wales, and you need help in paying for a funeral that you are arranging, you might be eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment. There is a different arrangement in Scotland.

There is an application process that you must go through, and payments will depend on the resources available in the estate of the deceased. To be eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment you must be in receipt of one of the following benefits:

Income Support, Housing Benefit, the disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit, Pension Credit, Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

More information about help with the cost of funerals can be found at the MoneyHelper website or the UK Government website.

The Children’s Funeral Fund for England can help pay for a funeral for a baby or child under the age of 18. This includes help for stillborn babies, or babies miscarried after 24 weeks of pregnancy. It is intended to help with burial fees, cremation fees, the cost of a doctor’s certificate, and a coffin, shroud or casket up to the value of £300. The funeral must take place in England to qualify for help from this fund. You can find more information and make a claim online by following this link.

There may also be help for the funeral of a child under the age of 18 from your local council. If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, your local council will provide a basic funeral, a cremation or burial for a child under the age of 18.

Ministers and celebrants will also usually waive their fees for a baby or child’s funeral. Please talk to your funeral arranger for advice.


If your friend or relative has died abroad, or if you don’t permanently live in the United Kingdom, we can arrange repatriation to and from anywhere in the world. We will take care of all the documentation and legal requirements. Please contact us to find out more.

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How can we help you?

We are here to help guide you through every step of arranging a funeral with respect and dignity. Please contact us as soon as you can so that we can support you.

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