What to do when someone dies

We are very aware many people may have never arranged a funeral service before and that at a time of loss most will naturally feel very vulnerable and completely out of their depth. As your appointed funeral director we are there to help to make matters more straightforward, less stressful and upsetting, by gently outlining the many options available to you; offering practical help; taking very seriously the trust you have placed with us.

Our core focus is to provide caring and practical support, advice and guidance, so you and your family have the time you need to consider and decide on the type of funeral service you require for your loved one. Our role is to organise and arrange everything in line with the individual and collective wishes of each family. Having appointed us as your funeral director, the first step is for us to bring the person who has died into our care, either from their home, care home, hospice, or hospital. Everyone who is brought into our care is looked after at our own premises in Burwash or Heathfield.

Every family we meet is uniquely different in what they require. When you are ready, we go through your wishes as to the funeral arrangements and to arrange completion of certain official paperwork required by the cremation and burial authorities. If there are aspects of the funeral service the family may wish to undertake themselves; such as bearing the coffin, to preparing the service sheets, or taking the service, then we are totally flexible and our services are tailored to meet the individual needs of each family we look after.

What should I do when death occurs?

This information is for guidance only, however whatever the situation if you are unsure in anyway as to what you should do next please contact us immediately (24 hours a day) and one of our team will be able to advise and assist.

In the event of an ‘Expected Death’ at:


Nursing Home


In the event of an ‘Unexpected, Sudden, or Unexplained Death’

If a death is unexpected or unexplained please dial 999 and request an ambulance and police immediately, explaining the circumstances. In the event of an unexpected death occurring HM appointed Coroner will become involved and may order a post-mortem to be carried out to establish an accurate cause of death. The coroner’s officer will keep you informed should this be the case and will also liaise with us. Please note that the registration of death process in the event of an unexpected death is different to that of an expected death and therefore it is best to talk to one of our team, who will explain the different possible scenarios, depending on the individual circumstances at that time.

Registering the Death

Since the start of the Covid pandemic the registration of a death has changed somewhat and is now handled online and over the telephone, not in person. Please see below for guidance in making an appointment and registering the death.

Unless a death has been referred to the Coroner, it should be registered within 5 working days with the ‘Registrar of Births, Deaths & Marriages’ for the county in which the death occurred.

The deceased’s Doctor’s Surgery, or the Bereavement Team in a Hospital, will send the ‘Medical Certificate of Cause of Death’ (‘MCCD’) directly to the appropriate Registry Office.

You will need to book a telephone appointment to register.

‘I do not have the MCCD’ and click on the prompt to ‘complete the online form’. You will then be contacted with an appointment to register over the telephone.


Click on ‘What to do after a death’, then select ‘Register a death’, then ‘Book online’ and follow the instructions. You will then receive an appointment via email to register over the telephone.

Telephone 0345 60 80 198           www.eastsussex.gov.uk/registration

If a death is sudden, unexpected or unexplained, it will be referred to H. M. Coroner.  In such cases the death cannot be registered until the Coroner’s investigations are complete

Depending on the individual circumstances regarding a death, falling under the Coroner’s jurisdiction, there may be number of different outcomes.  You will be kept informed by the Coroner’s appointed Officer and/or Funeral Director of the next steps.

Persons Qualified and Liable to Register include:-

  1. A relative of the deceased
  2. A person who was present at the death
  3. An administrator from the hospital or nursing home where the person died
  4. A person arranging the funeral with the funeral director.

When registering the Registrar will request the following:-

  1. Date and place of death
  2. Full name and surname (and maiden name if the deceased was a woman who had married).
  3. Date and place of birth
  4. Occupation of deceased
  5. Address of usual place of deceased’s residence
  6. Information regarding if deceased was in receipt of a pension or allowance from public funds.
  7. If the deceased was married, the date of birth of the surviving widow or widower.

Following registration the Registrar will email a ‘Certificate for Burial or Cremation’ (known as the ‘GREEN FORM’) direct to the Funeral Director. This form is the legal documentation required, which is ultimately submitted by your appointed funeral director to the crematorium or church/cemetery authorities, prior to the funeral service taking place.

Copies of the Death Certificate may also be purchased and provides proof of the death for legal purposes. These reasons may include accessing pension benefits, dealing with bank accounts and investments, claiming life insurance and settling an estate.

Where can I register the death?

Please click here to find contact details of your local Registrar’s Office. Please note that since the Covid pandemic, ALL registrations are currently processed over the telephone, with no visits being made to the Registrar.

How soon can the funeral take place?

In most cases you should allow 10-15 working days to make all the funeral arrangements and notify family and friends. Our advice is not to rush and for families to try to take time in getting everything sorted, at what is of course an incredibly difficult period in anyone’s lives.  At certain times of the year seasonal factors may also directly influence the time in which cremations, in particular, can take place, which may result in a longer than normal period before the funeral can take place. Either way, we will endeavour to work to your timescales and we will support and advise you in your decisions right through the process.