What to do when someone dies

Bereavement is a time when a family and close friends are probably suffering from shock and emotional stress; so seeking immediate professional advice can often be a comfort

At Home, in a Nursing Home or a Cottage Hospital

If someone dies at home, this will usually be confirmed by a qualified professional, i.e. a GP, on-call Doctor, Paramedic or Qualified Nurse. Once the death has been confirmed, the family may contact us to arrange for their loved one to be taken into our care. Sometime later, the deceased’s GP will issue the Medical Certificate that states the cause of death. This is the certificate that needs to go to the Registrar (see Registering a Death).

The same applies if the death occurs at a nursing home, although the nursing home would normally contact us direct once the death is confirmed.

In the case of a small cottage/local hospital, the same applies regarding confirmation of death etc, the only difference being, the hospital have an arrangement with a local funeral director to look after the deceased until the paperwork is complete. The family then have a choice of which funeral director to use.

In Hospital

If someone dies in a large hospital the family will probably have to wait for administrative staff to contact them with an appointment to collect the Medical Certificate, they can also sometimes help with booking an appointment at the Registrars. It is usual for the deceased to remain at the hospital while this is taking place. Once the paperwork is complete, we would then go to the hospital to collect the deceased.

In all of the above circumstances, the Funeral Director would arrange for completion of Forms 4 and 5 if cremation is requested.

If the Coroner is involved

The majority of deaths notified to the Coroner are completely natural but the cause of death is not certain. The following deaths would be reported to the Coroner.

Where the cause of death is unknown or unexpected.
Where the cause of death is believed to be unnatural or suspicious.
Where the death occurred during an operation.
Where the death occurred due to an industrial disease.
Where the death is due to an accident.

Usually, someone from the Coroner’s Office will speak to a near relative or their representative, as well as any doctors who have been looking after the deceased before deciding if a Post- Mortem is necessary. The purpose of this examination is to determine the cause of death and is not done for research or any other purpose.

If the cause of death is found to be natural and there are no other circumstances requiring an Inquest, the Coroner will provide a document allowing the death to be registered.

If the death was not due to natural causes and further tests are needed to find the cause of death, the Coroner will open an Inquest. They will usually release the deceased at this stage and allow the funeral to go ahead.