What to do when someone passes

It can be a confusing and difficult time following the death of a loved one and a lot of people don't know what they need to do first, especially if this is the first time you are experiencing it.

What needs to happen first will depend on the circumstances of the death. Whether the person died in hospital, at home, a public place or overseas will affect the type of documentation that you will be given and how the Funeral Director can proceed.

If someone dies at home and their death was expected

Call the GP/family doctor and nearest relative.

If the death was expected, for example due to a terminal illness, in most instances the doctor will issue a medical certificate of the cause of death to allow the death to be registered at the Register Office. A Death Certificate will then be provided.

Having spoken with the GP and when you feel ready to do so, you can contact a funeral director.

If someone dies at home unexpectedly

Call 999 immediately and ask for advice.

An unexpected death may need to be reported to a coroner. A coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating unexpected deaths. They may call for a post-mortem or inquest to find out the cause of death. This may take some time, so the funeral may need to be delayed.

If someone dies in hospital

If your loved ones passes away in a local hospital (e.g Altnagevlin Hospital) the doctor will typically issue a medical certificate cause of death and formal notice.

This documentation will be transferred to the hospital mortuary along with the deceased. You can call a Funeral Director at any point once your loved one passes away and they can assist you with arranging the funeral.

In most cases the hospital mortuary staff can only release bodies between 8am and 4pm. If a death occurs after 4pm your loved one will stay in their care until the Funeral Director arranges to take the deceased home the following day.

If someone dies abroad

If someone dies abroad, the death will be registered according to the regulations of the country.

We in the island of Ireland are very privileged to have access to a charity known as the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust. The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust aims to alleviate the financial hardship of bereaved families repatriating the body (bodies) of loved one(s) who have died abroad in sudden or tragic circumstances back to Ireland.