When a Death Occurs

The death of a loved one is always difficult, whether it is expected after a long illness, or is a sudden shock. Sometimes the paperwork required in such situations can seem daunting. We are here to help you with the whole process.

When a death occurs at home

Relatives must contact the Doctor who attended the deceased during their last illness. Sometimes the emergency Doctor has to be called if the family Doctor is not available. The Doctor will then come to certify that death has occurred and will issue a medical certificate. (In most cases this certificate is collected by the family from the Doctor’s Surgery.) The certificate is then required by the Registrar to register the death.

When the doctor has attended and the death has been certified, the relatives can contact us, and we will arrange for the deceased to be taken to one of our private chapels of rest.

Sudden death

When a death is sudden or unexpected you should contact the deceased’s family Doctor (if known). If the Doctor is unable to state the exact cause of death or issue a certificate, they will report the death to the Coroner’s Office. The local police may then need to take statements about the deceased from relatives. These statements will be given to the Coroner.

The deceased will be taken to the Coroner’s Mortuary where a post-mortem examination will be held to establish the exact cause of death. When the coroner has completed this examination they will then issue a certificate for burial or cremation.

When a death occurs in hospital

If a death occurs in hospital the hospital will contact the nearest relative. The deceased will then be taken to the hospital mortuary until relatives have made funeral arrangements and registered the death. If a cremation is required, the deceased will remain in the hospital mortuary until Doctors have signed the necessary papers, which allow a cremation to take place.

The hospital will arrange for the nearest relative, if possible, to collect a medical certificate from the bereavement office and the hospital. This will be in a sealed envelope addressed to the Registrar stating the cause of death. This certificate is required by the Registrar, together with the deceased’s medical card (where possible), to register the death.

When an inquest is necessary

The coroner will hold an inquest in the following circumstances:

  • The cause of death is uncertain after a post-mortem examination
  • The death was violent or unnatural
  • The death was caused by an industrial disease

An inquest is an enquiry into the medical cause and circumstances of death. The coroner will arrange the enquiry in a way to best serve the public as well as the interest of the relatives.

The death cannot be registered until the inquest has been held. If a death certificate is needed by the family before this, the coroner can (on request) issue an ‘interim’ death certificate.

The coroner will issue an order for burial or cremation to allow the funeral to take place before the inquest.