What to do when someone dies

If someone has died and you need to arrange a funeral, we will guide you through every step. From the first phone call to the day of the funeral and even afterwards, we’ll support you in everything you need to do.

What to do when someone dies

If someone has died and you need to arrange a funeral, we will guide you through every step. From the first phone call to the day of the funeral and even afterwards, we’ll support you in everything you need to do.

If someone has died and you need our help, contact us:

What's the first thing to do when someone dies?

There are different steps to follow depending on where the person has died. Whether they died at home, in hospital, a care home, or abroad, we can guide you through each step.

Where the death has happened

First steps when someone dies at home

1. Call the person’s doctor or the NHS helpline 111

A medical professional needs to come to verify the death. If the person’s doctor isn’t available, for example if someone dies at night, an on-call doctor or senior nurse can do this.

A doctor will then be able to issue a medical certificate of cause of death, which you’ll need to register the death. The doctors’ surgery will contact you when this is ready to collect.

2. Call your local Co-op funeral director

Once the death has been verified, call your local Co-op funeral director. We’ll bring the person who has died into our care at whatever time you need us to, day or night.

Our experienced and professional team will care for them until the funeral takes place.

Tell us about a death

3. Register the death

You need to register the death within 5 days in England and Wales and within 8 days in Scotland. You can register the death by contacting the Registrar’s Office local to the person who has died.

You can start making funeral arrangements before you’ve registered the death.

Find out more about how to register a death

4. Start arranging the funeral

When you meet with your local Co-op funeral director, the first thing they'll do is listen to find out more about you and the person who has died. This is to make sure the funeral is right for you and for them. They’ll guide you through all the decisions you need to make and anything you may need to do.

This can take place at one of our funeral homes or over the phone.

Find your local Co-op funeral director

Unexpected deaths at home

If someone dies unexpectedly at home the emergency services must be involved. They will contact the coroner (or procurator fiscal in Scotland) to investigate the cause of death.

The coroner will arrange for a local funeral director to collect the person who has died to take them to the hospital mortuary (or city morgue in Scotland). You don’t need to use this funeral director, even if the person has been taken to their funeral home after the investigation is finished.

The coroner will issue a medical certificate of cause of death when they've finished their investigation, but you can still start arranging the funeral in the meantime.

Find out more about what happens when a death is reported to a coroner

Contact your local Co-op funeral director to start making funeral arrangements

If the death has been reported to a coroner, you can get in touch with us to begin arrangements, even if the person who has died is currently in the care of a different funeral director.

Even though we can start the funeral arrangements, a funeral date cannot be set without contacting the coroner. Your Co-op funeral director will help you with everything you need to do.

Find your local Co-op funeral director

First steps when someone dies in hospital

When someone dies in hospital and the death was expected, the doctor will issue the medical certificate of cause of death.

1. Call your local Co-op funeral director

Once you have the medical certificate of cause of death, call your local Co-op funeral director. The hospital will ask which funeral director you’re using, and you might have to sign a form to confirm this.

Some hospitals need you to register the death before we can bring the person who died into our care – they'll let you know if this is the case. The person who died will be kept at the hospital until we’re able to bring them into our care.

Our experienced and professional team will then care for them until the funeral takes place.

Tell us about a death

2. Register the death

You need to register the death within 5 days in England and Wales and within 8 days in Scotland. You can register the death by contacting the registrar’s office local to the person who has died.

You can start making funeral arrangements before you’ve registered the death.

Find out more about how to register a death

3. Start arranging the funeral

When you meet with your local Co-op funeral director, the first thing they'll do is listen to find out more about you and the person who has died. This is to make sure the funeral is right for you and for them. They’ll guide you through all the decisions you need to make and anything you may need to do.

This can take place at one of our funeral homes or over the phone.

Find your local Co-op funeral director to book an appointment

When someone dies in hospital and the death was unexpected

The hospital might need to do a post-mortem examination to find out the cause of death. If they’re unable to find out the cause, the doctor will contact the coroner or procurator fiscal’s office who will investigate further.

The coroner will issue a medical certificate of cause of death when they've finished their investigation. Once you have the medical certificate of cause of death and have registered the death, we will bring the person who has died into our care. We will arrange this directly with the hospital, and you do not need to be there on this day.

We’ll contact you to let you know once we have them in our care and we can begin the funeral arrangements.

First steps of when someone dies in a care home

When someone dies in a care home, the person’s doctor will be contacted to verify the death. The doctor will then issue a medical certificate of cause of death which you’ll need to register the death. The doctors’ surgery will contact you when this is ready to collect.

1. Call your local Co-op funeral director

Once the death has been verified, call your local Co-op funeral director. We’ll take the person who has died into our care whenever you need us to, day or night. Our experienced and professional team will care for them until the funeral takes place.

Tell us about a death

2. Register the death

You need to register the death within 5 days in England and Wales and within 8 days in Scotland. You can register the death by contacting the registrar’s office local to the person who has died.

You can start making funeral arrangements before the death is registered.

Find out more about how to register a death

3. Start arranging the funeral

When you meet with your local Co-op funeral director, the first thing they'll do is listen to find out more about you and the person who has died. This is to make sure the funeral is right for you and for them. They’ll guide you through all the decisions you need to make and anything you may need to do.

This can take place at one of our funeral homes or over the phone.

Find your local Co-op funeral director to book an appointment

Unexpected deaths in a care home

If someone dies unexpectedly at a care home the emergency services must be involved. They will contact the coroner or procurator fiscal (in Scotland) to investigate the cause of death.

The coroner will arrange for a local funeral director to collect the person who has died to take them to the hospital mortuary (or city morgue in Scotland). You don’t need to use this funeral director, even if the person has been taken to their funeral home after the investigation is finished.

The coroner will issue a medical certificate of cause of death when they've finished their investigation, but you can still start arranging the funeral in the meantime.

Find out more about what happens when a death is reported to a coroner

Contact your local Co-op funeral director to start making funeral arrangements

If the death has been reported to a coroner, you can get in touch with us to begin arrangements, even if the person who has died is currently in the care of a different funeral director.

Even though we can start the funeral arrangements, a funeral date cannot be set without contacting the coroner. Your Co-op funeral director will help you with everything you need to do.

Find your local Co-op funeral director

First steps of when someone dies abroad

1. Tell the relevant authorities

Who you need to contact will be depend on whether you are also abroad with the person who has died. If you’re in the UK, you need to tell the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. If you’re with the person who has died, you need to contact the local British Embassy.

These authorities will let you know what you need to do next.

2. Register the death

The death must be registered in the country where the person has died. The British Consul will be able to help you with this. It also needs to be registered with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

If the person is being brought back to the UK, you’ll need to register the death at the registrar’s office closest to where the funeral will be.

Find out more about how to register a death

3. Bringing the person back to the UK (repatriation)

If the person being brought back to the UK, you’ll need:

  • a certificate of embalming - you’ll receive this once the person who has died has been embalmed
  • the death certificate
  • written permission to remove the body from the country of death

The British Consul can help you with all of this.

Our worldwide repatriation service can support and guide you through the process. For more information about repatriation, see our advice on what to do when someone dies abroad.

4. When the person who has died is back in the UK

Once the person who has died has been brought back to the UK, you’ll need to:

  • tell the coroner about the death and they’ll decide if any further investigation into the death is needed
  • register the death at the registrar’s office closest to where you want the funeral to be
  • arrange for a Home Office cremation order, if the person is to be cremated

Your local Co-op funeral director can help you with all of this.

5. Start arranging the funeral

When you meet with your local Co-op funeral director, the first thing they'll do is listen to find out more about you and the person who has died. This is to make sure the funeral is right for you and for them. They’ll guide you through all the decisions you need to make and anything you may need to do.

This can take place at one of our funeral homes or over the phone.

Find your local Co-op funeral director to book an appointment

What happens when we take someone into our care?

We'll look after the person who has died with care, dignity and respect from the moment we bring them into our care until the day of the funeral. If you wish to visit your loved one, speak to your local funeral director.

Arrange a funeral
Funeral setting - family and director

Find your local funeral home

Enter your town or postcode to find a Co-op funeral home near you.

Some common questions

The cost of a funeral depends on where you live in the UK and the choices you make. To find out how much a funeral might cost at your local Co-op funeral home, use our funeral cost calculator.

Find out more about funeral costs

When a funeral takes place can vary depending on factors such as:

  • the religion of the person who has died
  • whether the death had to be reported to the coroner
  • the availability of venues and crematoria

Get in touch with your local Co-op funeral director who will be able to answer any questions you may have.

You may wish to delay the funeral if you have relatives abroad or far away that need to travel for the funeral.

Your local Co-op funeral director will be able to advise you on whether the funeral can be delayed.

A Co-op funeral director will help you with everything involved in the funeral arrangement process. From helping with what to do when someone dies, guiding you through the choices and decisions you’ll need to make, to being there to support you on the day of the funeral.

Repatriation is the process of transporting someone who has died to another country. This can mean bringing someone back to the UK from abroad or arranging for the person who has died to go to another country for the funeral.