Help with a bereavement

When someone close to you dies you will suffer distress and a sense of loss, even if the death was expected. At the same time there will be a lot to do and you will need to make some decisions. This page will help and guide you.

If someone dies in hospital, nurses will contact you if you are the next of kin, and the hospital will keep the body in the mortuary until funeral arrangements are made. If someone dies at home and their death was expected you should contact the doctor who cared for them in their last illness. The doctor will attend and will confirm the cause of death. Whether the person died in hospital or elsewhere, the doctor will give you two documents to take with you to the registrar when you register the death.

If someone dies unexpectedly or if the cause of death is not clear, the police should be called and they will notify the Coroner. The Coroner is a lawyer or doctor responsible for investigating deaths when they are sudden, unexpected or due to accident or violence. The Coroner will decide whether or not a post mortem should be carried out to confirm the cause of death. The body of the person who has died will be retained in the mortuary until the Coroner is satisfied that no further tests or examinations need be made, and then they will issue a form allowing funeral arrangements to be made.

You must register a death within 5 days (unless the Coroner is investigating it, and then it can be done once the Coroner gives permission to do so). You will need to contact your local registrar’s office to make an appointment. You will find the address and contact details online or in the phone book.