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What to do in Time of Bereavement

Bereavement can be a difficult time for the family, friends & colleagues of the deceased. We hope that the following information will help with both with the practical and emotional aspects of bereavement.

When a Death Occurs at Home

Telephone the practice, a doctor will visit later that day and confirm that death has taken place.

If the doctor who calls, or any other doctor is certain of the cause of death, they will fill in a death certificate which you can collect from the practice later. If a certificate is to be issued you can contact a funeral director straight away, they will make all of the arrangements for the funeral including contacting clergy and organising the burial / cremation. They also offer advice on press announcements, printing, flowers, insurance claims, and claiming from the social fund if required.

If a death certificate can't be issued for any reason (the commonest being that the patient hasn't seen a Dr recently), then the coroner (a government officer who investigates the cause of unexplained deaths) will be contacted (or when he is not on duty the police), and a post mortem (examination of the deceased) may need to be held before the funeral. You should still contact a funeral director.

When a death certificate has been issued it should be taken to the local registrar of births and deaths (together with the deceased's medical card and birth certificate if possible) who issues a green certificate and which you should take to your funeral director who will then take over proceedings.

When a Death Occurs in Hospital

Contact your funeral director to tell them that their services will be required.

If the hospital are happy to issue a death certificate, take it together with the release note (plus the birth certificate and medical card of the deceased if possible) to the Registrar as above.

A post mortem is more likely to be held in hospital and the coroner will again arrange this before a death certificate is issued and a funeral is held.


If the deceased is to be cremated you may be contacted by a gp from another practice in Swindon who will ask you about the circumstances leading up to the death.

This is a new government scheme to ensure that there are no suspicious circumstances related to the death. After speaking to you the GP will complete a 'cremation form' allowing the cremation to proceed if there are no concerns.

This procedure does not apply if the deceased is to be buried without cremation.

Further Help & Advice

If you would like further help advice or support in coping with the emotional aspects of a bereavement, CRUSE can help. They can be contacted on 01793 619933 or via www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk.

Practical help on the financial & legal aspects of bereavement is available via https://www.gov.uk/browse/births-deaths-marriages/death.