Death and Bereavement
These pages aim to provide some useful help
and advice with the arrangements for dealing with a death. You will
find further information about registering a death at the following
If the Death Occurs in Hospital
If the death occurs in hospital, the hospital
staff will contact the person named by the deceased as next of
kin. This may be, but need not be a relative. You
may, if you wish, request to see the hospital chaplain. Most
funeral directors have a chapel of rest in which the deceased will
be held pending the funeral. The hospital will arrange
for the nearest relative to collect the deceased’s possessions.
If the Death Occurs Elsewhere
If the death was expected, contact the doctor
who attended the deceased during their final illness. If the
doctor can certify the cause of death he or she will give you the
- A Medical Certificate that shows the cause of
death (this is free of charge and will be in a sealed envelope
addressed to the registrar).
- A Formal Notice that states that the doctor
has signed the Medical Certificate and tells you how to get the
You may wish to contact the deceased’s
minister of religion if you have not already done so.
Arrangements for the funeral may be made by a funeral director.
If you discover a body or the death is sudden
or unexpected, you should contact the following people:
- The family doctor (if known)
- The deceased’s nearest relative
- The deceased’s minister of religion
- The police, who will help find the people
listed above if necessary
If there is any reason to suspect that the
death was not due to natural causes, do not touch or remove
anything from the room. The death may be referred to the
coroner. The doctor may ask the relatives for permission to
carry out a post-mortem examination.
This is a medical examination of the body
which can find out more about the cause of the death and should not
delay the funeral.
Reporting a Death to a Coroner
In any of the following circumstances the
doctor may report the death to the coroner.
- An accident or injury
- An industrial disease
- During a surgical operation
- Before recovery from an anaesthetic
- If the cause of the death is unknown
- The death was sudden and unexplained, for
instance, a sudden infant death (cot death).
You will be advised if the death has to be
reported to the Coroner, in which case the death cannot be
registered nor the funeral take place, without the Coroner’s
Authorisation. Where a death is reported to the
Coroner, the Coroner’s Officer will contact the relatives.
A Coroner can order a post-mortem examination
without getting the relatives’ permission. This
examination will ascertain the cause of death. He may
also wish to hold an investigation into circumstances leading up to
a death. (This is called an inquest). When an inquest
is called, the Coroner’s Office will contact the relatives.
This should not cause undue distress as it is a legal
In such cases an interim Death
Certificate will be issued direct to your from the Coroner’s
Office. When an inquest is to be held, the death cannot be
registered until the conclusion of the inquest, but a certificate
will normally be issued at the opening of the inquest to allow the
funeral to take place. Once the inquest is over the inquest
report will be sent by the Coroner directly to the Registry Office
in order that the registration can take place without disruption to
the family and certificates can then be purchased.
For more information on the Coroner click here to visit
the website of the Home Office.