Helpful Information

 

What to do when someone dies

When someone dies there are many decisions and arrangements to be made. Unfortunately these often have to be made at a time of personal distress.

We hope the following information will provide help and guidance about what to do from the moment of a person’s death.

What needs to happen first will depend on the circumstances of the death and where death has occurred. This will also affect the type of documentation that you will need.

At home or in a care home

If the death was at home and expected you should contact the deceased’s doctor who, if satisfied with the cause of death, will issue the Medical Certificate of Death. When the doctor has given permission we will be able to remove the deceased to our chapel of rest. Our staff are on call at all times, day or night.

Care home staff will liaise on your behalf in the event of the death occurring in the care home. If the doctor is unsure about the actual cause of death even if it was clearly from natural causes, or if the deceased died suddenly and had not been under a doctor’s care during the past 14 days, or the death is unnatural, they will contact the coroner.

The coroner will arrange for the deceased to be moved to a mortuary by a funeral director acting for the coroner. The coroner may order a post mortem examination to determine the cause of death and then issue the documents allowing the death to be registered.

If the death is unexpected , you should dial 999 and ask for an ambulance and police immediately. The paramedics will carry out resuscitation or will confirm the death. The police will arrange for the deceased to be moved to a mortuary by a funeral director acting for the coroner.

The coroner may order a post mortem examination to determine the cause of death and then issue the documents allowing the death to be registered.

Donations of organs for transplant is not usually possible following a death out of hospital, but donations of tissues may still be possible.

Please tell the doctor and our staff as it may be necessary to move the body to a hospital rather than our chapel of rest.

In hospital or hospice

If the deceased has died in hospital or hospice and you are the named next of kin, the nursing staff will inform you. Most hospitals have bereavement staff who coordinate the issue of documentation and will explain the procedures to you.

In other places this may be done by the ward staff. In some cases the hospital staff will have to refer the death to the coroner. This means they will not be able to issue the Medical Certificate and the coroner’s office will give you further information about when you can register the death.

When the relevant certificates have been issued our staff will be able to remove the deceased to our chapel of rest.

If the person who has died had registered for organ or tissue donation and they are eligible, the transplant coordinator at the hospital will talk to you regarding the arrangements.

In a public place

A public place refers to anywhere that is not a care facility or someone's home. This might be a hotel, a school, sports club or a street. Usually the emergency services, i.e. the police and an ambulance, are called because the death is unexpected.

If the death appears to have been natural but the ambulance service feels that further resuscitation and transfer to hospital is not required, the police will usually arrange for the funeral director working for the coroner to remove the body to the nearest public mortuary (this may be located at a hospital). The ambulance service may do this if the deceased person is located in a very public place, such as a shop.

As most deaths in public places are unexpected, they are reported by the police to the coroner who will usually order a post mortem examination unless a doctor has been treating the person for a condition which might have caused a sudden collapse.

If the death was unnatural, the police will be in charge of the area and will arrange for a funeral director working for the coroner to remove the body to the nearest public mortuary. This may be at a hospital.

Overseas

If the death occurs overseas, the registration process in that country must be followed in order to obtain a death certificate.

You can arrange to have the funeral overseas if you wish. However, if you would prefer to return the deceased back to the UK please contact us and we will be able to advise you on the practicalities.

This will include obtaining necessary documents from:

  • The Registrar of Deaths and sometimes the
    Coroner in the UK
  • The documents needed from the country of death
  • The British Embassy or High Commission

If covered by an insurance policy the repatriation will be arranged directly by the insurance company.

If the repatriation is your responsibility then please check with us regarding the costs involved before confirming arrangements as all repatriation specialists require prior payment.

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