What to do when someone dies

this image shows a beautiful white lilly against a black background. I have chosen it as in my mind it is synonymous with peace and death

No one really wants to talk about it but one day someone you care for may die.

Would you know what to do ?  I wouldn’t so decided it was time I found out. These are my findings. Practical rather than doom and gloom and will additional distress at already deeply upsetting time.

Hospital death. With the majority of elderly people still dying in hospital staff there will contact you if you are the next of kin if you are not already there. The body will then be placed in the hospital mortuary until the funeral directors arrange to collect it. Hospital staff will arrange for you to then come and collect your loved ones’ possessions and a Medical Certificate is issued).

Death at home. If someone dies at home the first thing you need to do is notify their doctors surgery  immediately and the next of kin if you are not. If the death was expected the doctor will give you a Medical certificate showing the cause of death. You will also receive a formal notice that states the doctor has signed the Medical Certificate and tells you how to register the death.

Unexpected Death. In the case of a sudden and unexpected death and the person has not been seen by the family doctor within 14 days of the death, it must be reported to the Coroner. A Coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating unexpected deaths.

Registering the Death. The death must be registered in the district where it occurred, if you are unable to do so for any reason ( say for example you were on holiday ) it can be registered at any Registrars office and forwarded to the correct one. This may however delay the death certificate being issued. The Registrar will need the following;

  • Medical certificate showing the cause of death
  • Full names of the deceased and any previous names
  • The place and date of death
  • The address of the deceased
  • Their date and place of Birth
  • Most recent occupation
  • Name and date of birth of spouse or civil partner

Also useful to take if possible is the deceased NHS number and their Birth and marriage certificates if available. The Registrar will then provide you with a Certificate for Burial or Cremation, known as the green form or certificate for disposal ( NI ) giving permission for the body to be buried or cremated.

You will also be given a form allowing you to claim any unpaid benefits due to the deceased and a Certificate of Registration of Death. You will also receive leaflets containing information regarding state benefits for widows/widowers. You will also have a Death Certificate which is needed for the Will, any claims to pensions, savings, life cover etc. I

t is best to get several copies as it is more expensive to get them at a later date.

ADVANCE WARNING, I have been told that the process of registration can be really tough emotionally. It can seem person less and cold and one woman said to me “It was if he had never existed” as her husbands passport and pension card were destroyed in front of her.


Award-winning blogger and former care columnist for Devon Life magazine. I am passionate about helping elderly people and people with dementia live purposeful and independent lives.
Designer of the Dementia Assistance Card and Points Of Light award recipient, Caron hopes to help carers when resources are limited and demand is ever-increasing. I am here to support you.

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