Death of a loved one

Sunset

What to do when someone dies

Loss of an adult
Loss of a child or baby

Loss of an adult

Loss of a child or baby

We know that dealing with the death of a loved one is a very difficult time and there can be a lot to organise. You don’t have to do everything yourself – always ask for support from family and friends and health and social care professionals.

To help make things as easy as possible for you at this difficult time we have created the following checklist. Please note that not every section may be relevant. Each link will open in a new tab so the original list remains open for you.

We are very sorry if you have suffered the loss of your baby or child. Our thoughts are with you and your family at this very difficult time.

This page is a checklist of things you need to do as well as links to further information and support. We hope you find this useful. Each link will open in a new tab so the list remains open for you.

1 What to do first 

When someone dies at home, you should call their GP immediately (or an ambulance). If the death was in a hospital or hospice you should tell the doctor.

The next of kin has to collect a medical certificate with the cause of death written on it (the death certificate). You will need this to register the death of your loved one.

It’s important to remember that everyone should respect any wishes the person had about how their body should be cared for. The next steps include:

  • A trained healthcare professional will need to verify the death
  • Family or friends should call a funeral director, if they are using one
  • The funeral director will then usually come and collect the body
  • A doctor will need to certify the death by completing a ‘medical certificate of cause of death’ (this is different from a death certificate)
  • Look for a Will to see who the named executors are (the people who sort out the person’s affairs) and if the person left instructions for their funeral

2 Registering a death 

One of the first things you will need to do is register the death. You cannot finalise the funeral date until you have registered the death, so it's an important step.

You can register a death if you are a relative, were present at the death, a hospital administrator or if you are the person making the arrangements with the funeral directors.

Deaths are required by law to be registered within five days in the town or city where they occur. The exception is if there is to be a coroner’s post mortem, inquest or other coroner involvement, even if this is not where the person lived. If the death you wish to register took place within Southampton then an appointment should be booked at Southampton Register Office.

You may find it useful to acquire several copies of the death certificate, as you may need to send them to various organisations.

The links below explain how to register a death along with the documents you will need.

The registrar will then issue the ‘death certificate’ and ‘certificate for burial or cremation’. These need to be given to the funeral director.


3 Arranging the funeral 

The registrar’s office will give you a certificate for burial or cremation, depending on what the deceased requested, or what you decide to do.

Most people choose to go through a funeral director to help arrange the funeral, however you can arrange the burial or cremation direct with us. If you decide to use a funeral director, it can help to choose someone you feel comfortable with. It’s also important to think about the cost of the funeral, and make sure you are able to pay for their services.

While most people will have to fund their loved one’s funeral, if you're the surviving partner, you may be entitled to funding from government bereavement support.


4 Tell government about the death 

During the registration we will also set up the Tell Us Once service for you, which reports a death to most government organisations in one go. The Tell Us Once service allows you to inform all the relevant government departments when someone dies. To stop or change benefits payments you can tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the death straight away. You'll also need to tell banks, utility companies, and landlords or housing associations yourself.


5 Check if you can get bereavement benefits 


6 Deal with your own benefits, pension and taxes 

Your tax, benefit claims and pension might change depending on your relationship with the person who died.


7 Check if you need to apply to stay in the UK 


8 Deal with their estate 

You might have to deal with the will, money and property of the person who's died if you're a close friend or relative, or the executor of the will.

When someone dies, if they had any outstanding debts to settle, or any assets to distribute, someone else will need to take charge. Banks and other institutions will normally only take instructions from the person appointed in the will to carry out the deceased's wishes, or if no will was left the next of kin.


9 Care and medicine 

Returning medications: If the person has any leftover medicines, it’s important that they are disposed of safely. They shouldn’t be kept, thrown in the bin or flushed down the toilet. Medication should usually be returned to a pharmacy. Needles should be put in a safe container – ask your nurse or another healthcare professional about what to do with them. Removing any leftover medication might be upsetting for you. Don’t do anything you’re not ready for, and if you’re finding it difficult please ask the nurse for help.


10 Additional things to consider 


11 Further help and support 

As the circumstances for every bereavement are different, more advice may be needed. Below are some useful links to assist you,


 

1 If your baby is stillborn 

If your baby was born after 24 weeks and shows no sign of life, then this is called a stillbirth. You will need to register your baby’s stillbirth within six weeks.

A baby born without signs of life before 24 weeks cannot be formally registered at a register office. However, many hospitals give parents a hospital certificate of birth to commemorate their baby.

The hospital will assist you to book an appointment with the registrar and will then give you a Medical Certificate of Stillbirth, to hand to the registrar.


2 If your baby was born then died 

If your baby was born alive at any stage of pregnancy and then died you will need to visit the Register Office to register the baby’s birth and death (if the birth has not already been registered). You will need to register the death within 5 days. The hospital are able to contact the Register Office and organise an appointment for you to register both events at the same time.


3 Arranging the funeral 

A baby who is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy or a baby that dies shortly after birth must by law be formally buried or cremated. A funeral is not legally required.

The registrar’s office will give you a certificate for burial or cremation. We will not charge you fees for a standard burial or cremation of a child. Other fees, such a funeral director, flowers and memorial will still need to be paid.

Most people choose to go through a funeral director to help arrange the funeral, however you can arrange the burial or cremation direct with us.

If you decide to use a funeral director, it can help to choose someone you feel comfortable with. It’s also important to think about the cost of the funeral, and make sure you are able to pay for their services. While most people will have to fund their child’s funeral. However, you may be entitled to funding from government bereavement support.


4 Benefits 

You may be entitled to financial help and support if your baby was stillborn or if your baby died within four weeks of being born.

Full details relating to child benefit, tax credits, Sure Start Maternity Grant, maternity and paternity leave and pay and also Child Trust fund payments can be found here:


5 Further help and support 

When someone we love dies, we experience overwhelming feelings of loss and sorrow. When a child or baby dies, it is especially devastating, and is often said to be the most painful experience anyone can go through. A whole range of help and support are shown in the links below: