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What to do When Someone Dies

When someone dies there are certain formalities that need to take place. We can help you with most of them but some will occur before you contact us and others you will need to take care of personally.

Deaths in hospital

Most deaths now take place in a hospital or nursing home. If your relative dies in hospital, staff will contact you, lay out the body and arrange for it to be taken to the hospital mortuary. You will then be asked to arrange for the body to be collected by funeral directors, who will normally take it to their chapel of rest. At the same time, you will be asked to collect the person’s personal possessions.

Before a death can be formally registered, a doctor will need to issue a medical certificate giving the cause of death. In hospital, this is usually done by a hospital doctor, who will hand the certificate to you in a sealed envelope addressed to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. You will also be given a notice, explaining how to register the death. There is no charge for either of these. If the person has not been seen by a hospital doctor, their GP may be able to issue a certificate instead.

A hospital may ask you for permission to carry out a post-mortem examination to learn more about the cause of death. You do not have to agree to this.

In some cases, a doctor may not be able to issue a medical certificate of the cause of death. There may be a number of reasons for this. If the doctor isn’t able to issue a medical certificate, they will refer the death to the coroner. The coroner may order a post mortem examination. You do not have the right to object to a post-mortem ordered by the coroner, but you should tell the coroner if you have religious or other strong objections.

Where cremation is to take place, a second doctor will be needed to sign a certificate that the body has been examined. There will be a charge for this.

Deaths at home

When someone dies at home, their GP should be called as soon as possible. The GP will normally visit the house and, if the death was expected, should be able to issue a certificate giving the cause of death. If the person did not have a GP or you do not know the name of the GP, an ambulance should be called instead.

A doctor is not allowed to issue a certificate if they are unsure about the cause of death. When this happens the death must be reported to a coroner and the body will be taken to a hospital mortuary, where a post mortem may need to take place.

Deaths abroad

If a death takes place abroad it must be registered according to the law of that country. The death should also be reported to the British Consul who may be able to arrange for the death to be registered in the UK as well.

Returning a body to the UK is expensive but the cost may be covered by any travel insurance taken out by the person. If the death was on a package holiday the tour operator should be able to help with arrangements.

When a body is returned to the UK, the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the district where the funeral is to take place must be told and will need to issue a certificate before burial can take place. If cremation is to take place the Home Office also needs to give permission. We will take care of this on your behalf once we have received the body and documents. In some cases it may be necessary for us to arrange for the documents to be translated into English which we will also arrange.

If the death was not due to natural causes the coroner for the district will also need to be told and an inquest may need to take place. In Northern Ireland a coroner can also arrange a post mortem or an inquest if the family requests it.

Preparing to Say “Goodbye”

The last visit to a loved one before the funeral can have a profound effect and depends greatly on the care and skill of the funeral director.

We aim to give you a peaceful final visit that reassures and comforts. A favourite photograph can really help, giving us important guidance regarding hairstyle and even make-up. These small details can make a big difference as we strive to achieve the best possible results.

Please remember that after death the human body begins to change, and even embalming (hygienic treatment) can only slow these changes, not prevent them completely.

In the light of this, and the emotional “limbo” that exists in the period before the funeral itself, we suggest viewing within a week of a loved one’s passing, and ideally completing the funeral within 10 days. Naturally circumstances vary and we promise to offer you the best advice based on your specific needs or preferences.

About Melia Powell & Family Funeral Directors

We offer affordable excellence. That means we will really listen to your needs, advise and guide you, and provide you with the very best funeral care you need at a family affordable price.

We are a Christian family yet celebrate diversity and are very experienced at celebrating the life of someone irrespective of any or no religious beliefs.

Finally, whatever service or style of funeral is right for you, we guarante to make it perfect for you on the day. Nothing is too much trouble and we will carry you through all your difficult times.

Testimonials & Reviews

(see all of our latest testimonials here)

Dear Brian,

Just a quick email to congratulate you and your team, for what I perceived to be a thoroughly professional and well executed funeral yesterday - it was exceptionally well organised, there was real care and commitment evident, and you were all a pleasure to work with!

Many thanks and well done... You are all welcome back anytime.

Yours

Garry H

Revd Garry AF Hinchcliffe
Team Rector of Knaresborough & AsstDDO

Our Offices

Head Office

Melia House, Bradford Road
Sandbeds, Keighley, BD20 5LY
Telephone 01274 567110

Keighley Office

111-115 Cavendish Street
Keighley (town centre), BD21 3DG
Telephone 01535 280402

Bradford Office

25-27 Westgate,
Bradford, BD1 2QL
Telephone 01274 567110

Crematoria We Serve

Yorkshire & Lancashire

* A surcharge may apply since these councils charge a higher fee