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Because family life matters

What to do when someone dies

How a church can support someone immediately following the death of a loved one.

Over two thirds of funerals in the UK have some involvement from the local church, either through direct contact from the family or from the funeral director, so there is a great opportunity for the church to get to know and support the family who have been bereaved.

What the church can do:

  • Visit as soon as possible after the bereavement (see What to say on your first visit), and arrange to do follow up visits.
  • Offer to help with practical tasks (see After the funeral).
  • Liaise with the undertaker / funeral director as appropriate.
  • Help choose hymns and readings for the funeral.
  • People will appreciate help and guidance, but it’s still important for them to remain practically involved if they feel up to it, as it can help them come to terms with events.

    The person who has been bereaved may have a lot of questions about what they should do. Although the undertaker should be able to answer a lot of these questions, it may be helpful to have a booklet on hand to pass to the family to help guide them through the process. Two useful ones include What to do after a death in England or Wales (Jobcentre Plus, 2009), and When someone dies: a practical guide (CARE, 2015). *

    If you are the first port of call when someone has just died at home, encourage the family to contact the GP as soon as possible, as a medical certificate stating the cause of death will be required from either the hospital or GP in order to register the death and arrange the funeral. It may also be helpful if you can advise on an undertaker if they aren’t sure who to contact; keeping a list of local phone numbers to hand can be useful.

    Supporting the family with some of the practicalities before the funeral can also help relieve stress, such as helping them write a notice for the local press, or dropping them off when they go to register the death, so that they don’t have to worry about parking.

    *This information is supplied in good faith, but Care for the Family cannot accept responsibility for any advice or recommendations made by other organisations or resources.