Registering the death and planning the funeral of a loved one is one of the most heart wrenching and difficult things that any of us will have to deal with in our lifetimes. Whether the cause of death is due to contracting Coronavirus or other causes undertaking these arrangements during this period of national lockdown will undoubtedly cause additional distress and anxiety to many bereaved families as normal processes for registering a death, arranging and attendance at funeral services has changed under the Coronavirus Act.

All registry offices are closed to the public following government advice. This means that it not possible to register a death in person. You can register a death by phone, but you do not need to call, the registrar will call you once they have the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) the hospital or doctors’ surgery can send the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) straight to the registrar.  If you sent the certificate yourself, allow 2 to 3 working days for them to contact you. The funeral director may also be able to register the death for you. Please check whether they can support you to do this.

Usually the registrar would give you a green certificate to pass on to the funeral director. Instead, the registrar can send this on to the right place for you. Unfortunately, the registrar will not be able to send you a death certificate when you register the death, but you can order one by phone.

Planning a funeral service or celebration of the life of a loved one plays an important role in helping bereaved families move through the grieving process and honouring a loved one’s last wishes can have a lasting impact on long-term health and well-being.  Arranging a funeral in person is particularly difficult at this time, especially when so many of us are self isolating and with social distancing rules in place to reduce the spread of the virus and although it may feel impersonal we are being encouraged that where possible all funeral services should be arranged over the phone or via other electronic means.

With attendance at funeral services limited in many cases to immediate family members only many funeral directors are supporting families to say goodbye to their loved ones in other ways and will be able to recommend some alternative options to ensure that everyone can take part on the day of the funeral and pay their last respects. Some of these may include online memorial sites, holding a memorial service later, or the arranging of an online gathering on the day of funeral.

Meeting the cost of a funeral can be a worrying time for many families, especially with so many deaths being due to unforeseen circumstances such as coronavirus and where no provision has previously been made to meet the costs.

Help is on hand with the Government extending the support offered with meeting the costs of a basic funeral through Social Fund grants and the Children’s Funeral fund that can be claimed via the Department of Work and Pensions. It is likely that in most cases costs will be lower as some of things that you might normally associate with a funeral expense are currently not applicable. The funeral director will be able to help advise on individual arrangements for paying for funeral costs.

Following the funeral you may need to deal with your loved ones estate,  the local authority on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions offer a tell us once service which allows you to inform central and local government service of the death at one time, rather than approaching each service individually. You will still need to inform banks, pensions, utility companies etc in addition to this.

These are unprecedented times, we are here for you, if you have experienced the loss of a loved one and would like our support please call our Support Line on 0800 389 8820 and speak to a member of our team who will do their very best to help you through this very difficult and sad time.