What to do when someone dies

When someone close to you passes away, it can be overwhelming, especially if the death was sudden. In addition to the emotional impact, there seems to be a never-ending list of practical tasks that need to be completed.

It’s important to look after yourself and go at your own pace. Remember that there is expert help available 24 hours a day to support you and you shouldn’t try to do everything at once. Some things do need to be dealt with immediately, and some can wait until you are ready.

Immediately after the death

When someone dies at home, your first port of call should be the doctor of the deceased, who will issue a Medical Certificate of Death. If your loved one died in a nursing home or hospital, the staff there will liaise with the doctor.

Contact your preferred funeral home to start making arrangements. Our team are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can call us for free on 0800 652 7226 and we will start to make arrangements to bring the deceased person into our care.

Within five days

  • Once you have the Medical Certificate of Death, you will need to make an appointment with your local Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages to formally register the death. During Covid restrictions, this was done over the telephone rather than in person.
  • Here, you will be given a Notification of Registration of Death form. Once you have this, you can use the Government’s Tell Us Once service to let all the relevant organisations know, such as passport, driving licence, benefits, and local council.
  • Speak to your Funeral Director to start making arrangements. They are there to guide and support you through the process and answer any questions you may have.
  • Begin to notify wider friends and family of the deceased as well as co-workers, utility companies and financial offices such as banks, building societies and credit providers. This could be a time to use their social media accounts to tell people you may not have contact details for.

Within a fortnight

Start the process of handling the estate of the deceased. If they made a will, their named executor is responsible for this.

Redirecting post

If the person didn’t live with you, you may need to redirect their post for a while until you have time to tell everyone.

What can wait

Don’t feel pressured into dealing with everything all at once. The following elements will need organising, but can wait until you feel ready.

Some things may feel like they should be done immediately but are just too emotionally difficult. You may be reluctant to cancel their mobile phone number for example, or memberships that they loved. It isn’t essential that these things are done straight away, if you are willing to wear the cost of delaying.

  • Closing down email and social media accountsFacebook and Instagram will allow you to memorialise them, rather than delete them. This allows their connections to leave messages and still access the page, but Facebook will recognise that they have died and it will no longer be an active account.
  • Clearing out personal possessionsThis is once of the most emotionally difficult thing to do. What you keep and what you don’t depends on circumstance and things like available space , but be sure to take your time. You may want to ask friends or other relatives if there are things they would like, or make specific gifts, but don’t be in a hurry. This is also a time when arguments can happen as emotions are running high. It might be an idea to put everything in storage for a while, to get it out of the way but not make immediate decisions. There is no time limit, and it doesn’t have to happen all at once, do you what you feel able.
  • Donating or selling clothingClothes can also be a difficult task. Again, friends and family might want certain items. Some clothes can be given to charity shops if they are in good condition, but many things may need to be thrown away. It can also be a nice idea to use some items to make memorial pieces. Blankets, cushions, teddies or dolls can be made from old pyjamas, shirts or T shirts.
  • Arrange memorialIf the person is cremated, you may wish to do something special with the ashes. If the person has been buried, you may wish to give them a permanent memorial such as a headstone. This is something else that you can take your time over or talk to our team for inspiration or ideas. Take your time to think – some people wait months or even years before they can think of what they want.

Don’t forget to ask for support from friends and family. People want to help and feel useful at difficult times and giving them some practical tasks could be useful for everyone. Delegate the tasks that you don’t feel able to do but don’t feel pressured to go too quickly.

If there is anything you are unsure about, our team are on hand to help.