Death and Bereavement

What do I do if a Death Occurs in the Family?

If a death occurs in the family, what you need to do depends on the circumstances of the death.

If the death occurred at home

  • Telephone the doctor, who will visit to confirm death has taken place.
  • The doctor will issue a certificate of cause of death and this will be emailed to the Register Office.
  • Tell the doctor (if you can) whether the deceased is for cremation or burial.
  • Contact the funeral director who will visit and take the deceased into his care.

When death occurs in hospital

  • Contact the funeral director as soon as you can to inform them that their services will be required.
  • Telephone the hospital administrator or the hospital ward to arrange collection of the certificate of cause of death. This will be issued by one of the hospital doctors who looked after your relative.
  • Tell the administrator (if you can) whether the deceased is for cremation or burial.

When death is sudden or a result of an accident

  • If at home, telephone the doctor who will confirm that death has taken place.
  • The doctor will contact the coroner’s office.
  • A police officer will need to contact the funeral director. You will be asked if you have a preference for a particular funeral director; if not, the duty one will be called. Please remember the duty funeral director is acting for the coroner at this time, the final choice of funeral director is yours.
  • Contact the funeral director of your choice as soon as you can for further advice. The deceased cannot be buried or cremated until a death certificate has been issued either by the coroner or by the doctor (with the coroner’s permission).

What to do next

  • Make an appointment with the Registrar’s Office (the cause of death certificate will have been emailed to the Registrar’s Office)
  • The registrar will register the death and issue you with a certificate, benefits agency form, and a green form. After collecting the green form from the registrar, take it along to the funeral director or telephone for a home visit; they will take over complete responsibility for arranging the funeral.
  • Following a death reported to the coroner, contact the funeral director as soon as possible – do not wait for a certificate to be issued. The coroner will arrange for the death certificate to be issued when his/her investigations are complete.


If you are struggling with bereavement please visit our Wellbeing Centre for more information and support.