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Independent Funeral Directors
Serving Dorset for over 110 years

What to do when someone dies at home

Even if the death of your loved one was expected, a death at home can be very upsetting.

It is perfectly ok to take a moment to yourself before you do anything else. Or you might want to ask a close friend or family member to be with you.

When you feel ready, follow the steps below. Remember, if you’re unsure about anything, just give us a call. We are here to help, and our number one priority is ensuring you get the guidance you need.

If the death was expected:

Step 1 – Call the doctor (the GP)

First, you will need to call the deceased person’s GP.

If you call during surgery hours, the GP will normally come to the house to certify the death and issue a death certificate giving the cause of death (officially called the Medical Certificate of Death).

If you call out of normal surgery hours, an out-of-hours doctor will visit the house, but the certificate will be issued later when the surgery re-opens.

Sometimes you have to go to the surgery to pick up the certificate. Once you have a Medical Certificate of Death you must register the death within 5 days if you are in England, Wales or Northern Ireland and within 8 days if you are from Scotland. Learn more about who can register the death and who you need to tell.

If someone dies at home and the death was unexpected:

(or the deceased has not seen their GP in the past 28 days)

Step 1 – Call an ambulance

Call an ambulance immediately by dialling 999, the operator will guide you on what to do to check if the person can be resuscitated. (A doctor cannot issue a certificate if they are unsure of the cause of death. In this case, you may need a coroner to establish the cause of death.)

The deceased may be taken to the coroner’s mortuary where a post-mortem may be carried out. A funeral service cannot take place until the Coroners inquest is complete and they have issued a Medical Certificate of Death outlining the cause.

If you were there during the death at home but are not the deceased next of kin, you must notify their closest family member as soon as possible.

Once the death is officially confirmed:

Step 2 – Call us

We will talk you through what happens next and the first decisions you need to make on 01202 367 307. Alternatively, email our head office on [email protected].

Top of Form

Bottom of FormPlease remember you can call us at any time before this point if you want some extra support or guidance while the cause of death is confirmed.

Once the death has been registered, you can start to arrange your loved one’s funeral. We offer a comprehensive range of funeral packages to suit everyone, from traditional funerals to woodland burials.

Coping with bereavement

If you are finding it hard to cope with the loss of a loved one, there are counselling and support options available. Speak to your family GP to learn more about their services or join a local bereavement group in Dorset. Learn more about the bereavement support available.

Funeral guidance

At Douch Family Funeral Directors we are here to help you, to provide you with professional guidance and support. Visit your local branch or get in touch, you can call us at any time on 01202 367 307. We have been arranging funeral services in Dorset for over 100 years and have the experience to help you provide a dignified funeral for your loved one.