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Practical help when you suffer a loss

Publish date: 01/04/2014

Practical help when you suffer a loss

When someone we care about passes away, there will be various arrangements and decisions to be made.

The following information may help you through this difficult time.

What happens following a death in a hospital / hospice

If the immediate next of kin aren’t present when a person passes away, the ward staff at the hospital will contact the named next of kin in the medical notes.

They will arrange transfer to the hospital mortuary until the next of kin can make arrangements with their chosen funeral directors.

At this time, family members who wish to pay their last respects can arrange with the funeral directors to visit the Chapel of Rest.

When someone dies outside of a hospital / hospice

If the death of a person was expected, and during their illness they had been receiving care from a doctor (GP), you’ll need to inform the doctor or doctor’s surgery of the death.

The doctor who has been caring for the person who has died may provide the medical certificate detailing the cause of death. There are no fees involved in obtaining the medical certificate.

The doctor will also provide you with a Formal Notice document. This confirms the doctor’s signature on the medical certificate. The Formal Notice document will also explain what you need to do in order to register the death.

When someone dies and it was unexpected

If you discover the death or the death is sudden and unexpected you must:

  1. Call the police
  2. Contact the next of kin (family) if known
  3. Contact the doctor of the deceased if known.

If you’re unable to inform a relative or doctor, the police will be able to manage this process for you.

When the Cause of Death is not known

When someone dies and it was unexpected, the death will be reported to the coroner.

A coroner is a lawyer or a doctor who is responsible for investigating deaths that are unexpected. During this process there may be an inquest and a post mortem. It may also be necessary to delay the funeral arrangements.

For more information concerning a death that has been reported to a coroner, you will need to contact the coroner’s office directly, for more details Contact us.

Post Mortems

A post mortem involves a medical examination of the body. A post mortem is carried out to establish the cause of death. In most cases, this will not delay any funeral arrangements.

A coroner may request a post mortem and doesn’t require permission from the next of kin for this to be carried out. At your request, you can arrange for a doctor to be present as your representative at the post mortem. In this instance, the coroner will advise you when and where the post mortem will take place.

The coroner will arrange for the body to be transferred by a funeral director from the place of death to the mortuary and usually covers the cost involved.

Where the post mortem examination concludes that the person died of natural causes, the coroner will provide a notice known as Pink Form B (Form 100B). The Pink Form B will detail the cause of death and you will then be able to register the death.


An inquest is held to determine the facts surrounding the circumstances and medical cause of death. It does not require legal representation as it’s not a trial.

An inquest may be held in public and may sometimes involve a jury.

A coroner may hold an inquest even if the person died outside of England or Wales.

A coroner can hold an inquest by order of the Secretary of State.

An inquest is held for the following circumstances:

  1. Where the cause of death was unknown, or not natural.
  2. If the death occurred as a result of violence.
  3. If the death appears to be related to a disease associated with a work place.
  4. If the death occurred in a prison.

For further information please Contact us.

Forms and Certificates

From the doctor:  

  • A doctor will usually provide a Formal Notice when someone has died in addition to the Medical Certificate, if the coroner isn’t involved.

From the coroner:

  • When the death has been referred to a coroner, you’ll receive a Pink Form 100A or 100B from the coroner. The coroner may send the form to the Registrar, or you may be required to take the form to the Registrar yourself (this applies when there is no inquest).
  • A coroner will provide you with an Order for Burial (Form 101) when there is an inquest, and the person who died is to be buried.
  • A coroner will provide a Certificate for Cremation where there has been a post mortem or an inquest and the person who died is to be cremated.
  • When a person who has died will need to be moved from England or from Wales, the coroner will provide a Removal Notice (Form 104).

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