What to do following a death
When a family member or a loved one dies it can be a traumatic and stressful time, but there a number of practical steps that need to be taken.
What needs to be done can vary depending on what the circumstances of the death are. Below are some guidelines on what to do following a death:
At home or in a nursing home
When someone dies at home it is important to phone the deceased’s doctor first. The doctor should come out to assess the cause of death and once satisfied, shall issue a Medical Certificate of Death. The doctor may issue this at the time or in some cases ask for it to be collected from the local surgery.
A Medical Certificate of Death is required before any sort of funeral arrangements can be made. Delays in obtaining any of the mentioned forms should not stop you contacting a funeral director.
In the case of a death at a nursing home, the nursing staff will contact the deceased’s doctor. The Medical Certificate of Death will either be left at the nursing home or you will be advised of its whereabouts.
If the death occurs during a stay in hospital then the staff nurse will arrange a doctor to issue the Medical Certificate of Death and you should be able to collect this and any personal belongings.
If the deceased is to be cremated, then you will need to inform the hospital as there may be extra forms to be completed by the medical staff.
Please don’t be worried about the involvement of a Coroner or Procurator Fiscal; it is entirely routine for them to be involved when a death is sudden, unexpected or happened away from home.
A sudden death
When someone dies suddenly or unexpectedly then as well as calling for the doctor you will also be visited by the Coroners officer (Procurator Fiscal in Scotland). The coroner’s role is to determine the cause of death and it is normal for them to be involved when a death is unexpected, especially those where the deceased was not under a doctor’s care recently.
Abroad or away from home
If someone dies abroad then there are extra measures to take, a local doctor will be need to be contacted to provide the Death Certificate and there may be extra procedures relevant to the country involved that should be observed.
Once the doctor has been notified and you have collected the Death Certificate then you can begin the necessary arrangements for the repatriation.
In conjunction with the necessary steps as outlined above you should contact your local funeral director straight away. They will help and support you through the various processes that need to be followed, providing much needed guidance during a difficult time and answer any questions you have.
Your local funeral director can also make the necessary arrangements to take the deceased into their care and begin planning the funeral.