It is often assumed that funerals can be arranged only with the services of a funeral director. Some people, however, find great comfort from being involved, partly or totally, in the arrangements for the funeral of a loved one.
When a death occurs
If the death occurs at home, contact the general practitioner who attended the deceased during their last illness. The GP will confirm the death and issue a certificate stating the cause of death. The GP may give you the certificate straight away or advise you to collect it from the surgery later. If the death occurs in hospital, normally the doctor attending will issue the certificate to you or via the hospitals administration office. When a death occurs and the doctor attending is unable to state the cause of death, or where a medical practitioner had not recently attended to the deceased, the Coroner will be informed.
Registering a death
The next of kin or person arranging the funeral must take the certificate issued by the doctor to the Registrar of Births and Deaths within five days of the death. Most Registrars' operate an appointment system, so it is worthwhile telephoning your local district office first. When you register the death, make sure that all the details are given fully and correctly, as it is very difficult getting any changes made later. It is also advisable to obtain extra copies of the death certificate at this time in order to be able to claim the deceased's assets at a later date. If the Coroner has been involved, and an inquest is to be held, then they will issue a form to the Registrar who will issue a Coroners Order for burial. When an inquest is not held, the nearest surviving relative can register the death only when the Coroner has confirmed the cause of death to the Registrar.
Before any cremation can take place, certain forms are required by law to be submitted to the cremation authority. Please contact the Bereavement Services office to discuss exactly what is required.
Care of the deceased until the funeral
If the death occurs in hospital, the mortician may agree to keep the deceased in the hospital mortuary until the day of the funeral, possibly at no charge. If the death occurs at home, a local funeral director may agree to provide the mortuary facility. Alternatively the deceased could be kept in a well ventilated, cool room. A coffin can be purchased from a funeral director or directly from a coffin manufacturer. Alternatively it is possible to make a coffin providing it conforms to the crematorium's regulations.
Many people do not wish to collect the body of the deceased themselves, or may lack a suitable vehicle. This part of the funeral can be contracted out to a funeral director. Where the deceased has to be removed from a hospital, remember to contact the mortician first and check the documentation required. If you intend to use an estate car or van, ensure the coffin or container will fit in it. You will need help to handle the coffin.
For a cremation service you will either need to arrange for a minimum of four people to carry the coffin into the Chapel or arrange for a funeral director to provide staff to do so. Please note the 'APPLICANT FOR CREMATION' must provide the Cremation Authority with a disclaimer concerning the carrying into the chapel of the coffin and deceased. This document is provided by the Bereavement service. Without this document the funeral will not be permitted to proceed.