When Someone Dies
The death of a loved one leaves you bereft and bereaved, but if you are the family member or close friend left to deal with the aftermath, there is little time to indulge your grief. When someone dies there is a seemingly overwhelming list of tasks to perform, things to organise and notifications to be made.
Sometimes being busy can be cathartic, but if you are finding it difficult to cope try and co-opt the help of a friend or colleague who is sympathetic but was not as close to the deceased person as yourself. You also need to contact the funeral directors as soon as possible, so they can guide you through the process of dealing with the death.
If someone dies peacefully at home of obvious natural causes the first thing to do is to contact his/her doctor in order to obtain a medical certificate showing the cause of death. With the certificate provided, funeral directors can remove the deceased person from the home and transport them to a funeral home.
If your loved one passes away in hospital the medical certificate will be issued there and the body will be kept in the hospital mortuary until you arrange for its transfer to a funeral home.
It is essential to contact a funeral director as soon as possible after a death occurs, because the services they offer will lift many of the burdens from your shoulders at this difficult time and their staff will be available to provide advice and assistance.
Take Care of the Property
It may be some time before you have the time, inclination or ability to dispose of your late loved one’s property and possessions, so in the interim you’ll need to make sure everything is safe and secure, especially if the person lived alone. Tend to any pets or houseplants that have been left, dispose of perishable food, and in cold weather leave the heating on.
Within a Few Days
The next thing to do is register the death, which by law has to be done within five days at a register office in the area in which the death occurred. Take along the medical certificate as well as the deceased’s birth certificate, NHS number, marriage or civil partnership certificate, driving licence and proof of address. You’ll be asked for all sorts of information, such as the full name, address, date of birth and occupation of the person who has died.
The registrar will issue a certificate for burial or cremation, and a death certificate. It’s wise to buy several extra copies of the death certificate because you will need them for various purposes in the coming weeks.
You can also ask the registrar for a “Tell Us Once” reference number, which you can use to report the death to several government and local authority departments at once (like libraries, the DVLA, HMRC, council tax offices etc.) either online, on the phone or at a face-to-face appointment.
Once you have a certificate for burial or cremation the funeral directors can go ahead with arranging the funeral, in consultation with you.
Care of the Departed
In our experience at Arthur W May Funeral Directors we’ve found that one of the things the next of kin of a deceased person finds most comforting is to know the remains are being respectfully and peacefully conserved until the funeral takes place. This can sometimes take several weeks.
This is why we offer to lay your loved one in a chapel of rest at our premises, where you and others can visit if you wish and personalise the space with photographs or mementos.
Arranging the Funeral
It is the job of a funeral director to make the funeral arrangements as easy as possible for the next of kin. We take care of all the practicalities and paperwork. Before we can set to work however we do need to meet with you – perhaps more than once – to find out as much as possible about the life of the deceased and what your wishes are for the specifics of the funeral.
We’re available on the telephone at any time to personally discuss any arrangements and answer your questions, and we’ll stay in touch with you up until the funeral takes place.
When the arrangements are finalised we provide a cost estimate, which will include any disbursements (third party payments) such as catering, crematorium or cemetery fees, and printing costs.
One of the hardest jobs to do is to let family and friends know about the passing; this is not only an emotionally draining task but can also present practical difficulties. Where possible it is best to pass on the sad news face to face, or on the telephone. For the wider world it is useful to put a death notice in the local newspaper – something we can do for you.
It is not only family and friends who need to be informed of the death, however. There is a vast list of organisations and official bodies who need to be told. This daunting task can wait until after the funeral, but is something that can’t be put off indefinitely.
Some examples of who needs to be informed include the local council, utility companies, banks and/building societies, stores for which the deceased held loyalty or charge cards and so on.
You also need to cancel milk and newspaper deliveries and hand in things like the passport, driving license and television license, return library books.
Last but by no means least there are the legalities regarding the last will and testament of the deceased to be dealt with, for which you will no doubt require the help of a solicitor.