What should I do if a relative dies at home or at a nursing home?
When a death which has been expected occurs at home or at a nursing home, the doctor who has been treating the deceased or the doctor on call should be contacted first. We are unable to take the deceased into our care without a medical professional attending to certify the death. In some instances, a medical professional such as a nurse or paramedic can confirm the death and notify the GP. After a medical professional has certified the death, you should contact us immediately and we will be with you as soon as possible. Provided the deceased has been attended by a medical professional within the previous 14 days, the doctor will issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (Form 11) which you will need to register the death.
If the death has been sudden and unexpected and the GP cannot issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, the death may need to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal for a Post Mortem. If the police are in attendance, the deceased may be taken to the hospital mortuary by the undertaker contracted by the police. Otherwise, as your chosen funeral directors, we may be asked by the police to take the deceased into our care if it is unknown whether a post mortem will be necessary.
What should I do if a relative dies in hospital?
If your relative has been a hospital in-patient and they pass away at the hospital, the doctor who has been treating them will usually issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (Form 11), which will be emailed directly to the local registry office.
Most hospitals will give family members the opportunity to sit with their loved one after death before transfer from the ward. Your loved one will then be taken to the hospital mortuary from where they will be collected by ourselves on your instruction. We always attend the hospital as soon as possible, once the paperwork is completed and we are given clearance.
The doctor won’t issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. Why is this?
If the doctor will not issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death it is usually because the circumstances surrounding the death mean it should be referred to the Procurator Fiscal for further investigation. The doctor can only complete the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death if they know the cause of death and have seen the deceased for this illness in the 14 days prior to death occurring. The doctor cannot issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death if the deceased:
- has died a violent or an unnatural death;
- has died a sudden death of which the cause is unknown;
- has died in prison or in such a place or in such circumstances as to require an inquest under any other Act.
If the death does not fall into these criteria but the deceased underwent an operation shortly before death or there is a suggestion of a possible industrial disease, then it is probable that the doctor will refer the death to the Procurator Fiscal.
What happens when someone dies abroad?
If a death occurs abroad, a local funeral director will be contacted by the authorities to take the deceased into their care and repatriation will be organised. Once we have been contacted by the family, we will liaise with the repatriation company and take the deceased into our care when they arrive in the UK. All of the necessary documentation will be transported with the deceased. The death certificate must be issued in the country where the death occurred. However, a copy of the death certificate translated into English can be obtained by the family from The Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Can you provide eco-friendly and unusual coffins?
We can supply bio-degradable coffins made from materials such as bamboo, willow and cardboard, suitable for burial or cremation. Modern wooden or cardboard coffins can be supplied with graphics or colours that reflect your loved one’s personality. A full catalogue can be shown to you on request.
Can family members or close friends carry the coffin?
We will provide bearers to carry the coffin unless you request otherwise. Six people would be required to shoulder the coffin into the church or crematorium, and we would be on hand to organise and assist on the day of the funeral.
Can we make special requests such as having an alternative hearse?
Whatever your requirements, we will do our very best to carry out your wishes. We are happy to take a specific route for your loved one’s final journey and, as rural funeral directors, we have even had a tractor lead the funeral procession. There are specialist companies that hire motorcycle sidecar hearses, horse drawn carriages, Land Rovers or VW camper vans, for instance, and we would be able to arrange this for you.
Is it ok to have our loved one stay at home before the funeral?
We would advise on the suitability and practicalities of having your loved one rest at home before the funeral. In years gone by, a funeral would take place just a few days after death. Due to changes regarding paperwork, registering the death and availability at crematoriums and cemeteries, the funeral now takes place a few weeks after death, so ‘laying in state’ at home for the whole time is not advisable. However, it may be possible for us to bring your loved one’s coffin home perhaps the night before the funeral.