What should I do if a relative dies at home?

If your loved one dies at home and the death is expected, there are a number of steps which need to be taken, the first of which is to contact the deceased’s GP or if the death occurs out with normal GP working hours then NHS 24 should be notified.

Once a medical professional has verified that the death has taken place then you can contact Browning’s. In addition to calling the doctor, you should also contact any nearest relatives.

If the death was violent, accidental or unexpected– or if there are any unusual circumstances and the cause of death is unknown, the police should be called.

  • They may arrange for the deceased to be transferred to a local mortuary, in order that the Procurator Fiscal can be informed that an unexpected death has occurred. If the death is medically related, then the Police may inform you to contact your own Funeral Director who can attend in the interim period until the GP has confirmed that the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be certified.

  • Once the death has been certified or verified, you should then contact Browning’s. We will then discuss with you what your wishes are, this is likely to include whether the deceased has to be transferred from the home to Browning’s chapel of rest.

At this stage, you might also want to contact your chosen minister of religion and find out if there is a will and who is responsible for its handling – Browning’s will be able to offer advice on these and any other questions you will have.

Browning’s Funeral Director’s operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we are available to support you in your time of need. Call us on (01501) 740 234

What should I do if someone dies in hospital?

If you were not present at the time of death, the charge nurse or Police will contact the nearest relative or next of kin to arrange a convenient time to attend the hospital.

  • You may be asked to identify the body, authorise a post-mortem examination (unless the situation requires a post-mortem by law), and provide documents required that enable release of any personal possessions that belonged to the deceased.

  • You may also need to tell the hospital staff of the person’s intention to donate organs, or whether they wanted their body to be donated to medical science.

  • At this stage, Browning’s can be contacted, and we will liaise with the hospital in order to transfer the deceased to our chapel of rest. You will also need to find out if there is a will and who is responsible for its handling. The hospital will tell you when the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death is likely to be available.

The doctor won't issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. Why is this?

  • If the doctor will not issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (Form 11), this is most likely because he or she has reported the death to the Procurator Fiscal for investigation.

  • A death can be reported to the Procurator Fiscal if it is deemed that it was sudden, suspicious, accidental, unexpected or unexplained – or the circumstances in which it occurred give rise to serious public concern.

What does the Procurator Fiscal do?

The Procurator Fiscal is tasked with investigating all sudden, suspicious, accidental, unexpected and unexplained deaths and deaths that give rise to serious public concern. The Procurator Fiscal will investigate the circumstances of the death in an attempt to establish the cause before considering whether criminal proceedings or a Fatal Accident Inquiry is required. 

Whilst deaths are normally referred to the Procurator Fiscal by the Police; the Registrar, GP’s or hospital Doctors, who has concerns about the circumstances of a death can make a report. The Procurator Fiscal may investigate any death brought to his or her notice.

  • The Procurator Fiscal’s first priority is to establish the cause of death. Police officers will interview relatives and any other associated people in order to gather this information. Sometimes a post-mortem examination will be required. This could be where Doctors are unable to issue a death certificate, or where criminal proceedings or a Fatal Accident Inquiry might be considered. In this instance, no consent is required from next of kin or nearest relatives.

  • Post-mortem examinations usually take place within a few days of the Police providing the Procurator Fiscal with the information they require. Infant and child deaths usually result in a greater likelihood of the Procurator Fiscal requesting an examination. The Procurator Fiscal should be informed of any objections, be they cultural, religious or other, as soon as possible. However, legal reasons might make the post-mortem unavoidable.

The Procurator Fiscal’s investigations are usually complete once a death certificate has been issued but occasionally further enquiries may be required.

A death may be registered by any Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Scotland and Browning’s will be able to advise of their address and contact details. Note, it may be necessary to make an appointment with the Registrar.

When you register a death, you will need to take with you the following documents:

  • Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (Form 11)

  • Any certificate or document relating to any pension, benefits or allowances in which the person was in receipt

  • NHS medical card, if available

  • The person’s birth and marriage or civil partnership certificates, if available.

  • It may also be helpful to take such information as the deceased’s National Insurance number, Driving Licence or Passport as the Registrar will be able to cancel these through their Tell us Once service.

You will need to register the death before the funeral takes place but it is perfectly okay to begin making arrangements for the funeral with Browning’s.

A death must be registered with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages within eight days, although the authorities prefer that it is done sooner, if possible.

Each day in Scotland a random selection of Medical Certificates of Cause of Death are subject to scrutiny in order to monitor the quality and accuracy of the certificate.

  • In this instance a Medical Review will take place, this is conducted by a team of Medical Examiners and will mean that the Registrar may not be able to complete the Registration at the time you visit.

  • Additionally, any death that occurs in Scotland must be registered in Scotland regardless of the person’s usual place of residence.

Upon completing the registration of death process, the Registrar will give you:

  • A Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 14). This form is to be given to Browning’s so that the funeral can go proceed.

  • A form 334/SI, “Registration of notification of death” for use in obtaining or adjusting Benefits or for National Insurance purposes.

  • On payment of the appropriate fee, an extract of the entry recorded in the Register of Deaths. 

  • This might be required in order to acquire information about the person’s assets, such as pension, insurance policies, savings and Premium Bonds.

Who will lead the funeral service?

Faith-led funerals form the majority in Scotland, however there is no legal requirement to hold a religious service and there are a number of alternatives. Perhaps a relative or friend could take the service if they feel able to do so. Other members of the congregation could speak or read verses or poems.

  • Additionally, the British Humanist Association, Institute of Civil Funerals and Fellowship of Professional Celebrants have networks of officiants who will provide a very personal non-religious ceremony.

Can I get any assistance with funeral costs?

Financial assistance is available from the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Social Fund for individuals who meet the criteria. To qualify you must be receiving at least one of several qualifying benefits and have insufficient savings to pay for the funeral.

  • The DWP Funeral Payment will provide a limited amount, which may cover a very basic funeral, or provide a contribution towards a more traditional funeral. Browning’s can advise you about the qualifying criteria and the likely contribution available. 

The Nature and Purpose of Grief

The death of a loved one is life's most painful event.

Grief is a natural emotion that follows death of someone dear to you; and to one degree or another, it hurts. It is like an open wound which must heal. The healing process can take much less time than we have been led to believe however, grieving is purely an individual experience.

But It Does Have a Purpose

The therapeutic purpose of grief and mourning is to get you to the place where you can live with the loss in a healthy way. To do this, you have to make some necessary changes in your life, including:

1. Changing your relationship with your loved one - recognising he or she is now gone and developing new ways of relating to him or her. Take comfort in knowing your relationship will continue - it will just be different.

2. Developing a new sense of yourself to reflect the many changes that occurred when you lost your loved one.

3. Taking on healthy new ways of being in the world without your loved one.

4. Finding new people, objects or pursuits in which to put the emotional investment that you once placed in your relationship with the deceased.

This active work of grief and mourning is to help you recognise that your loved one is gone. Then you make the necessary internal, psychological changes, as well as the necessary external, social changes, to accommodate this reality. It all takes time.

If you would like additional grief support, please call us. We are here to help you through all the moments after loss.

Helping Yourself Heal

It’s all about giving yourself permission to mourn.

Someone you love has died. You are now faced with taking care of all the details of resolving their accounts and notifying various government agencies. And you’ve got to find time to feel the feelings, and think the thoughts surrounding the death of the person you’ve recently lost.

You’ve simply got to mourn. It’s just that simple. It is an essential part of healing. You are beginning a journey that is often frightening, painful, overwhelming and sometimes lonely.

Realise Your Grief is Unique

No one will grieve in exactly the same way as you. Your experience will be influenced by a variety of factors: the relationship you had with the person who died, the circumstances surrounding the death, your emotional support system, and your cultural and religious background.

As a result, you will grieve in your own special way. Please don’t try to compare your experience with that of other people, or make assumptions about how long your grief should last. We suggest taking a "one-day-at-a-time" approach that allows you to grieve at your own pace.

Talk about How You Feel

By sharing your grief outside yourself, healing occurs. Ignoring your grief won't make it go away; talking about it often makes you feel better. Allow yourself to speak from your heart, not just your head. It is a normal part of your grief journey.

Expect to Feel a Mixture of Emotion at Unexpected Times

Experiencing a loss affects your head, heart and spirit. So you may experience a variety of emotions as part of your grief work. Confusion, disorganisation, fear, guilt, relief or explosive emotions are just a few of the emotions you may feel. Sometimes these emotions of grief will follow each other within a short period of time. Or they may occur simultaneously.

As strange as some of these emotions may seem, they are normal and healthy. Allow yourself to learn from these feelings. And don't be surprised if out of nowhere you suddenly experience surges of grief, even at the most unexpected times.

Be Tolerant of Your Physical and Emotional Limits

Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you really tired. Not only that, your ability to think clearly and make decisions may be impaired. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Nurture yourself. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. Caring for yourself doesn't mean feeling sorry for yourself; it means you are practicing tried-and-true survival skills.

Build a Network of Support

Don’t isolate yourself. We know that reaching out to others and accepting support is often difficult, particularly when you hurt so much. But the most compassionate self-action you can do during this difficult time is to find a support system of caring friends and relatives who will provide the understanding you need.

Engage the Healing Power of Ritual

The funeral service was important, but so are those small, personal rituals that we create. The lighting of a candle in the evening; writing a letter to a loved one. Your personal rituals are just for you, to help you feel better, and find a spiritual connection to your loved one.