What to do when someone dies

Here are some steps to help support and guide you through the key things you'll need to do after a death. Alternatively, you can contact us straight away and we can advise you on next steps, whichever is best for you. We're here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We know how difficult and disorientating it can be when someone you love dies, we’re here to help. We’ll guide you through all the different things you’ll need to think about, decide and do. From what to do when someone dies, through the ceremony and on to what happens after the funeral.

Medical Certificate of Cause of Death

Whether someone dies at home, in a nursing home or in hospital, you’ll need to arrange for a doctor to fill in a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. You'll need this certificate to register the death. Things are a bit different if the person has died unexpectedly, abroad or away from home. In these cases it can take longer for the certificate to be issued.

If the person has died at home or in a nursing home, you can contact your chosen funeral director once this certificate has been issued. If they have died in hospital, you'll need to register the death before a funeral director or the family can collect them.

If the death is sudden

The emergency doctor or police will call in a specialist to find out exactly why and how the person died if the death is sudden. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, this is the Coroner, whereas in Scotland, it is the Procurator Fiscal.

If someone dies abroad or away from home  

We can help with all practicalities if the person has died away from home or outside the UK. This may include liasing with overseas representatives and organising international transportation. 

How to register a death

You can register the death by visiting your local Registrar's Office. The Registrar will need to know some details about the person that has died and see relevant documents before they can provide you with the death certificate. However, we can start making arrangements and giving you advice before that.

The person who registers the death is usually a relative of the person who has died, but there are other options if this isn't possible. If you'd like support, we can accompany you to the Registrar's Office.

Choosing a funeral director 

When someone has died, you need to start thinking about which funeral director you'd like to use, as the person that has died will most commonly rest and be cared for at this funeral home. The chosen funeral director will collect your loved one from the place of death and bring them into their care.

At Co-op Funeralcare, we can take care of your loved one, even before funeral arrangements have begun. We’ll prepare them for the funeral, keep them safe, and treat them with the utmost respect and care, either at one of our funeral homes or in a specialist mortuary. With over 1,000 funeral homes across the UK, we'll be right by you when you need us most.

Find your local funeral home online or call us anytime on 0800 088 4883 and we can help you get in touch with them.

How to tell people about a death

You may feel overwhelmed at the thought of passing on the news of a death. It may be useful to:

• Make decisions about whether to tell people face-to-face or by phone

• Delegate some of the responsibility for passing on the news to those close to you

• Keep things simple if you don’t know how to phrase the news

Arranging a funeral

Once you've completed the steps above you need to begin considering the funeral arrangements. For example:

• Will it be a burial or a cremation?

• Where will the funeral take place?

• What would your loved one have wanted?

If you're ready you can begin the arrangements online

If you think the person might have bought one of our funeral plans, let us know and we can check for you. If you have it, please bring the person’s funeral plan summary or reference number – but don’t worry, it’s not essential.