In times of bereavement
In the first few days after a loved one has died there are 3 thing that must be done. It is often the responsibility of the person who is most distressed to make the necessary and practical arrangements. It is wise to have a friend or relative to help you with these arrangements.
1. Obtain the Medical Certificate (also known as the death certificate)
The Medical Certificate (often called the death certificate) is an important legal document showing the cause of death, which has to be signed by the doctor who was responsible for your relative when they died. Once the surgery has been notified about the death, the Doctor will prepare the medical certificate. This usually takes 2-3 working days.
This may seem a long time when you are grieving, and planning a funeral, but the doctor has strict legal obligations to fulfil before they can issue the certificate. These obligations depend on the circumstances of the death, the location, and whether it was anticipated, but generally a doctor needs to physically verify the death, review the medical records and carefully complete the official paperwork.
In some cases there may be a delay in issuing the certificate should the death need to be referred to the Coroner, or the Doctor responsible for your relative is not immediately available. Any delay in receiving the certificate will not prevent you from making provisional funeral arrangements with a funeral director, although it is important to stress these are provisional until the death has been registered.
Reasons for a death being referred to the Coroner include if no doctor saw the person within the 14 days prior to their death, if there is a sudden or unexpected death, if there is an unnatural death, or if the cause of death cannot be identified. If the death is referred to the Coroner, please notify your funeral director and follow their advice.
Once the certificate has been completed, the surgery will telephone you to let you know you can collect the certificate. We do not routinely post certificates due to the risk of them being lost or delayed in the post. Please carefully read both sides of the detachable slip on the certificate when you receive it.
2. Register the death
The Medical Certificate must be taken to the Registrar within five days of the death, unless it has been referred to the Coroner. The registrar cannot register the death until the coroner’s decision is made.
Deaths which happened in the East Riding of Yorkshire can be registered at any of the registration offices in the East Riding of Yorkshire. To register a death you must call and make an appointment at your local registration office:
Beverley – (01482) 393600
Bridlington – (01482) 393570
Driffield – (01482) 393600
The registrars are open from 9am – 4.30pm from Monday to Thursday, and 9am – 4pm Friday.
3. Contact a Funeral Director
Funeral directors can manage funeral arrangements and give advice and support. Most people choose to use a professional Funeral Director but some people prefer to make their own arrangements as they consider this to be more personal and less expensive.
Choose a funeral director who’s a member of one of the following:
- National Association of Funeral Directors
- National Federation of Funeral Directors
- Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors
Factors that may affect your choice of funeral director include:
- The wishes of the person who has passed away
- Location of the firm’s premises
- The range of services provided
- Recommendation of those who have used the service and trusted advisers
- The way you are treated by the staff
- Ownership – are they a large or small firm, a family business or company?
- Advice or recommendation of family or friends
We have produced a guide to help you through the immediate practical matters, and also to provide you with other information which you may find useful in the coming weeks. The guide can be downloaded from here.
The Bereavement Advice Centre can also offer further information, support and advice. They can be contacted by phone on 0800 082 1203 www.bereavementadvice.org