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If you have come to this page due to recent bereavement we would like to offer you our sympathy.

There is an HSC Bereavement Network website which has been developed to provide information and guidance for those who care for and support dying people and their loved ones around the time of and after death. Please click here for further information.

When someone dies it can be very difficult to know what you are supposed to do. There is a simple checklist on the government website to guide you through the process, please click here for further information.

In Northern Ireland, a death should be registered within five days to allow funeral arrangements to be made. This is with the exception of deaths which have been referred to the coroner. A death may be registered in any district registration office in Northern Ireland.

Some deaths are referred to the coroner, this is usually because:

  • the deceased had not been seen by doctor within 28 days before death
  • the death was not caused by natural illness
  • the cause of death was unclear, sudden or suspicious

If a death is referred to the coroner, funeral arrangements should not be made before the consent of the coroner has been obtained. The coroner can give consent for burial or cremation to take place before the death is registered.

If the death was expected

Should a person die at home and the death was expected you, should immediately call the deceased’s family doctor if the death has occurred during normal surgery hours. If the event happens outside of normal surgery hours then the on call doctor should be notified.

In cases of expected death a medical certificate will be provided by the doctor stating cause of death

When someone dies in hospital

The staff who have been caring for the person will know what to do. The person who has died will need to be formally identified by the person named by them as the next of kin. The next of kin may also need to give permission for a hospital post-mortem examination if the cause of the death has to be confirmed.

A doctor at the hospital will give you a medical certificate that shows the cause of death. This has to be produced before the death can be registered. They will give you the medical certificate in a sealed envelope addressed to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

When someone dies unexpectedly

You should dial 999 if someone dies unexpectedly. When a death is unexpected the police will also be informed and will arrange for the body to be moved on behalf of the coroner in order than an autopsy may take place to find out the cause of death.

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