When a loved one dies, whatever the circumstances, it has a profound effect on close friends and family.  Naturally feelings of sadness and shock can be overwhelming and sometimes the need to communicate with someone close is the first reaction, to share the grief and get emotional support.  However, there are procedures that need to be followed, some more immediate than others, depending on the circumstances of the death. If the person has died at home and the death is expected due to terminal illness or serious illness/disability for which the Doctor has been treating the patient, then you may feel the Doctor should be your first call and he/she may well issue a Medical Certificate showing the cause of death which you can then take to the  Register Office (within 5 days of the death)  and the Registrar will register the death and issue a Death Certificate, for which there will be a charge, it is a good idea to purchase extra copies as they will be needed for the Will and official correspondence informing of the person’s death, e.g. Banks/building Societies, Pension companies etc. The Registrar will also give you a Certificate for burial or cremation and a certificate of registration of death. Remember Registrars are used to dealing with bereavement and will happily advise you professionally on any queries you may have.

Having contacted and spoken to the Doctor, you can contact a funeral director and proceed with the funeral arrangements.

If someone dies in hospital, the hospital will usually issue a Medical Certificate and they will advise you on procedures and what you need to do regarding the transfer of the body to a funeral parlour or chapel of rest etc.

If someone dies suddenly and unexpectedly at home it may be appropriate to contact the Dr so that they can confirm the death, if you don’t know the persons doctor or it is out of hours then dial 111 and they will advise you what to do. When the cause of death is uncertain it is not unusual for it to be reported to a Coroner who will investigate the death in order to establish the cause. In these circumstances they may call for a post mortem or inquest to be carried out to assist with the investigation and the funeral may have to be delayed while the process is implemented.

Priority has, of course, to be given to the care of dependants and pets of the deceased. If  the deceased’s , it is important to property is to be left empty it is important to make sure their home is safe and secure. Hopefully a Will is in place and provision made therein for family and pets.

It may be worth mentioning here that if the deceased has left a valid Will he/she may have stipulated how they wanted certain if not all aspects of the funeral to be dealt with, for instance some people specifically wish to be cremated others buried, and some people want a specific type of burial for example, a woodland burial or there may be a funeral plan in place or a preference as to where they are buried or in the case of cremation where and how they would like their ashes to be placed/scattered.

It’s important to remember that a time of loss and grief, friends and relations usually prove to be extremely sympathetic and supportive.