WHAT TO DO WHEN SOMEONE DIES
Death is always unexpected, even when it’s not. The loss of someone we love is a shattering experience it can feel surreal with many of our constants becoming fluid, simple tasks taking huge effort. Below you will find advice for some of the practical and legal processes which can happen immediately after a death. Always remember that there are no silly questions and it’s OK to not be yourself, we are here to support and guide you, without hesitation or request. Let us carry you these first few steps. Nothing you say or do will be judged by us, but we will only operate within the law and with dignity & care for you & your loved one.
When a death occurs, only a medical professional or in certain circumstances a Police Officer can confirm the death by Pronouncing Life Extinct (PLE). This is a legal act and will record the time of declaration; not the actual time or date of death. There are different protocols depending on where the death occurs. In a hospital or care facility, where medical staff are on site, the PLE will be carried out, the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (Form 11) completed by a doctor or GP, and the family or staff are able to contact us.
If an expected death occurs at home, the G.P. Practice or NHS 24 should be contacted to attend and confirm the absence of life. They alone can issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. We can only attend once a medical professional has confirmed the absence of life.
If an unexpected death occurs, an Ambulance or Doctor must be contacted to attend, after which the death might be referred to the Procurator Fiscal, Sudden Fatalities Investigation Unit, for investigation. In general, they are only concerned with clarifying the Cause of Death and to ensure that a crime wasn’t committed. This can take a prolonged period and thus cause a lengthy delay with the Medical Certificates issue. We can only take the deceased into our care when the Medics or Police allow; our mortuaries are recognised as a safe place to care for them until a decision is made but we are not allowed to dress or coffin someone until a Medical Certificate is issued.
If a death happens abroad, this is more complicated as every nation can have different regulations, (Scottish Law is different to England & Wales as is Northern Ireland and that’s just the UK) therefore we are available any time to talk you through what to do and what to expect. Never ever travel abroad without properly declared travel insurance.
INTO OUR CARE
Once a Medical Professional or Police officer has confirmed absence of life, we can bring your loved one into our care. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, whenever you need us, we aim to attend locally within the hour. Our refrigerated mortuary facilities are state-of-the-art and your loved one will be looked after just like a member of our own family would be. The Scottish Government Code of Practice demands that we record your: name, contact number, address, relationship and consent to remove in writing. We will inform you where your loved one will be cared for, and any fees incurred. We will initially prepare your loved one through first offices which is simply cleaning and the setting of features, we may also recommend embalming, (after death certificate issue) with explanation, to preserve and protect your loved one for hygiene and improved viewing experience.
After the Medical Certificate has been issued, the only, yet vital thing, we need the family to do is to register the death, as we are not able to confirm any funeral arrangements until this has been carried out. A death in Scotland can be registered in any Registrar’s Office in Scotland within 8 days of issue, usually via an appointment or by remote registration (over the phone) with a Registrar. Upon the family’s first call with us, we will explain the procedure and support you in the information required. Please click here for full information.
Please note that an original Extract of Death Certificate is required for any financial or official declarations and not the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death issued by the NHS. These can only be purchased from a Registrar.
MAKING THE ARRANGEMENTS
We offer a variety of services to fit family’s wishes, faiths and budget. We will sit down with you, either in one of our parlours or in the family home, listen to your wishes and make a start on planning a bespoke funeral service. Over the phone and Zoom arrangements can also be conducted for families who are not able to travel. On your instruction we will organise all details from deciding on burial or cremation, down to personalised orders of service, providing support, practical and legal funeral advice whilst following requests. Any statutory and necessary paperwork will be completed and a fully itemised estimate of both our charges and of any third-party costs will be issued. We are transparent at every step.
On completing the arrangement, we will organise and book the service, follow your instructions and keep you up to date at every stage. We work with officiants and places of committal to organise music and photos etc, no detail is too small. If you wish, we will prepare your loved one for viewing and visitation in our chapels of rest. We value your trust in us and will carry out your loved one’s unique farewell to the highest standards with our qualified, compassionate and highly experienced staff.
Our service to the family does not end with the funeral, we are available to offer further advice and support from professional bereavement counselling to memorialisation and future planning.
WE KNOW IT CAN BE DIFFICULT TO KNOW WHAT TO DO WHEN SOMEONE DIES
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