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My relative, or friend, has just died but what do I do now?

If you have never experienced a bereavement before, it can be overwhelming and daunting not knowing what to do or who to call first. Depending on the circumstances and where the person has died there are a few different steps to take.

This guide will help if you find yourself in a situation where someone has died and you don't know what to do next. We hope you won't need it but it's always helpful to know this information beforehand.

Was the death expected?
Who should I call when someone has died?

If the death was expected (e.g. due to a terminal illness)?

Have they died at home or in a Nursing Home?

If the death was expected, perhaps due to a terminal illness, a doctor or registered nurse will need to verify the death. You should call your GP practice, which will divert to the on-call duty doctor if out of hours. The doctor or nurse can take a number of hours to attend. Once the death has been verified, you can contact a Funeral Director when you are ready. You may choose to take some time to say your goodbyes before calling the Funeral Director.

Have they died in Hospital?

If someone dies in hospital, you will be contacted by the bereavement team based at the hospital. If the death occurs outside of the bereavement office hours, you can usually expect the call to take place the next working day. They will be able to offer practical and emotional support. The bereavement team will ask you if you have a Funeral Director appointed. As the hospital will arrange all of the necessary paperwork, the Funeral Director cannot usually bring the person that has died into their care straight away, this means you can take your time to appoint someone.

Was the death unexpected?
What to do when someone dies unexpectedly

If the death was unexpected?

Have they died unexpectedly?

For sudden or unexpected deaths, the standard procedure is for the ambulance service to attend to verify the death. Once the paramedics have verified the death, the Police will be asked to attend on behalf of the coroner. The police officer(s) will collect information for the coroner and will then contact a Funeral Director to take the person who has died to a nearby hospital, in the care of the coroner. You may request a Funeral Director or alternatively the police will contact a local Funeral Director to act on their behalf. You do not need to use the Funeral Director who attended for the funeral.

For our local area, the coroner’s designated hospital is Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. The coroner may request a post-mortem or inquest to determine the cause of death. The coroner will speak to you about their investigation and will ask you to appoint a Funeral Director if you haven’t already done so.

Have they died abroad or away from home?

If someone dies abroad, the death needs to be registered according to the regulations in that country. The death will also need to be registered with the British Embassy to obtain a consulate death certificate. You should let a tour operator or resort representative know about the death. If someone died while on a ship or plane, you must register the death in the country that the ship or plane is registered to and not where the ship or plane was at the time of death.

Tom Owen and Son provide funeral services across Conwy, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno and surrounding areas. We will empower you to make choices so the funeral is unique and bespoke to the person that has died. Whether it is an affordable funeral that we will tailor to your budget, a green funeral or a modern celebration of life funeral service.

If you are unclear on what to do next in any of the above situations, we recommend calling your preferred Funeral Director to ask for advice and guidance.

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