The Practical Necessities
When a loved one dies, there are unfortunately some practical arrangements which have to be made.
The first step is contacting the Bereavement Care Services staff to arrange an appointment to collect the medical certificate and any of your relative’s belongings.
If the telephone line is busy, or if you are put through to an answer machine, please don’t worry. The staff will be aware of your relative’s death and will usually be in the process of contacting a doctor to complete the medical certificate.
The certificate will be issued as soon as possible but please be prepared to wait at least one working day. If your relative died on the Friday, the certificate may not be ready until the Tuesday.
Mondays and the days after Bank Holidays are very busy. Occasionally, the doctor will need to consult the Coroner before the certificate can be issued. This is quite routine and no cause for alarm.
Your appointment with Bereavement Care Services will take approximately 15 minutes but may be up to an hour, depending on the questions you have and if you wish to speak to a doctor or any other member of staff.
In this appointment our specially trained staff will:
- Ask whether your loved one is to be buried or cremated (for completion of the relevant paperwork)
- Provide a medical certificate of cause of death
- Advise on how to register the death and what to do next
- Facilitate a meeting with the doctors and/or consultant responsible for the care of your relative (if you wish)
- Make arrangements for you to visit your relative in our Chapel of Rest (if you wish)
Our staff will do all they can to help and support you through this difficult time and will answer all of your questions.
Registering your loved one’s death
The death must be registered in the district where the death occurred, as soon as possible, usually within five days. You will need to contact the Register office to make an appointment to register the death. You will only need the medical register card of your relative and the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (The medical register card is allocated when registering with a GP – don’t worry if you can’t find it).
Ensure you can collect the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death from the Bereavement Care staff or on the advice of the Coroner’s Office BEFORE making this appointment.
When you register the death, (which should take about 1/2 hr) you will receive the green form for the Funeral Director and a white form for Work and Pensions. The death certificates cost £3.50 each and you may need about 3 of these.
The Huntingdon Registration and Coroner’s Office
Lawrence Court, Princes Street
Cambs PE29 3PA
Opening hours Monday to Friday (except bank holidays)
9am to 4.00pm
Tel: 01480 372790
If you and your relatives were not able to be with your loved one at the time of their death or you would like to see them again this may be possible, depending on individual circumstances. Contact the Bereavement Care Services or the ward staff and they will liaise with the mortuary to arrange an appointment. The hospital will take care of your loved one until you have made arrangements with a Funeral Director.
The Funeral Director
Contact a Funeral Director when you feel ready. They can visit you in your home if preferred and will help you make arrangements for the funeral. They will contact the hospital and arrange to collect your loved one and organise cremation papers if required. If your relative requires a post mortem ensure you inform the Funeral Director.
Once your relative is with the Funeral Director, you will be able to view them at the Chapel of Rest, where you can spend as much time as you need with your loved one. Sometimes, families decide they would like their loved one to spend time at home, usually in the hours before the funeral. This can be arranged with the Funeral Director. You will also need to think about the clothes you would like your loved one to wear. Take your time and don’t rush into any decisions.
Hospital Post Mortem
The doctor who has been looking after your relative may ask your permission for a post mortem examination. The doctor will already know the cause of death but a post mortem would establish whether there were any further contributory causes of death and assist in the future treatment of other patients. A hospital Post Mortem requires the consent of the next of kin. The procedure will be thoroughly explained to you and there will be no pressure exerted on you to agree to a post mortem. If you agree, you will be able to change your mind at any time before the post mortem takes place. The Bereavement Officer will guide you through the process.
Please be aware that you may be able to see your relative afterwards and they will look the same as BEFORE the post mortem.
Coroner’s Post Mortem
If the Coroner is involved, one of the Coroner’s Officers will contact you and will give advice and guidance on the necessary procedures.
If the death was unexpected, it is possible that a medical investigation will be required and this may involve a post mortem. A post mortem is not always necessary but sometimes helps to discover the cause of death. If a post mortem is necessary then the Coroner’s Officers will contact you.
HM Coroner’s Office
Huntingdon Police Station
Cambs PE29 3DQ
Opening hours Monday to Friday (except bank holidays)
8am to 4pm
Tel: 0345 045 1364
The majority of people can be tissue donors and it may be possible to donate heart valves, skin, bone, corneas and tendons up to 24 hours following your relative’s death. Please ring the Tissue Donor Coordinator on 07659 180773 as soon as possible or speak to a member of staff.
The Chaplaincy Team
The Chaplaincy team offer spiritual care and emotional support whether or not you have a religious affiliation. If you would like to speak to a member of the team or any member of staff involved in your relative’s care, contact the Bereavement Care Services.
After a few weeks have passed, you may find you have lots of unanswered questions about the circumstances surrounding your relative’s death. You may find you need advice and/or support. If so, please contact the Bereavement Care Services and they will give you advice and information.