What to do in the case of a death

When a death occurs in the family, whether it be at home or in hospital, there are many unfamiliar tasks which must be carried out. Sooner or later most of us will be confronted with the need to arrange a funeral which, in the midst of grief, can be a daunting ordeal. The very personal nature of each bereavement dictates that circumstance will vary in most instances, but the following may be of some help in taking the initial steps towards arrangements for the funeral.

Firstly, you will need to obtain a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death from the doctor in attendance at the hospital, or your GP if the death took place at home. In some circumstances this will be issued by the Coroner. All deaths need to be registered by taking the doctor's certificate to the Registrar of Births and Deaths in the subdistrict in which the death occurred. The information required by the Registrar is listed on the accompanying form, under the heading 'Duties of the Informant'.

The Registrar issues a GREEN certificate for the burial or cremation which must be handed to the Funeral Director, who should also be contacted without delay if, for any reason, the death has been referred to the Coroner. In any case, it is wise to contact your Funeral Director at an early stage as preliminary enquiries and provisional arrangements, if so desired, may be made in advance of the registration of the death. Whilst he or she can advise on the local facilities and the technical and logistical problems involved, the initial choice as to whether your loved one is to be buried or cremated is a very personal one and must be made by the family. It is, of course, possible that the deceased may have expressed a wish or left such instruction in their Will. The Funeral Directors will be responsible for making all the arrangements for the funeral and offering advice on such matters as press announcements, charitable donations or flowers, printing, insurance claims and seeking assistance from the Social Fund, if required. He or she will act as professional advisor and confidant and will be responsible for the efficient administration throughout the funeral.

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