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What to Do When Someone Dies

First things first. If you need these details straight away and you’re in a calm situation, don’t feel you’ve got to rush. Take your time. There will be people who can help you. It’s true, there’ll be documents to deal with and some decisions to make, but that comes later.

If you’re exploring this information because it seems sensible, then you might like to print this page and keep it for reference. The steps to take will depend on where the person was when they died, and whether or not the death was unexpected. This is an overview of each situation in turn.


If you knew someone was likely to die at home (perhaps due to illness or old age), then you simply need to call your family doctor as soon as it’s practical. Take your time.

Whenever you feel you’re ready, you should – if you have a funeral plan – also contact the plan provider. Or, if you don’t have a funeral plan, you’ll have to find and contact a local director yourself.


If you don’t know what’s happened, or if the person hasn’t been seen by their own GP in the last 14 days, then things are a little different. It’s important to leave the body where you found it (apart from your own attempts at resuscitation if that’s appropriate).

Call 999. Ask to speak to the police. You’ll be given advice on calling a doctor, or the police will send paramedics to your home as soon as possible. The police will also arrange for a local funeral director to collect the person’s body, so that a coroner has an opportunity to decide if a post mortem should be carried out.


Usually, the hospital or hospice will have a bereavement team – trained professionals who can give you practical support. They’ll be there to help you. The body will also be taken to the hospital’s mortuary, or be looked after with care in a hospice, until you make decisions about what you’d like to happen next. You’ll be given a medical certificate straight away if you’re in hospital (you will need a doctor to visit the hospice, otherwise).


It depends where you are but the general rule is, contact the local police and let them know what’s happened. You’ll need to register the death in line with the regulations of the country, but you’ll also need to register the death with the British Consulate.

In every situation, remember, there’s usually no rush. Take your time. We suggest you also call someone close by, a friend or a member of your family, who can be there to give you some support.