What to do when someone dies

No one really knows what to do when someone dies unless they’ve been through it first hand.

When we lost my step-sister unexpectedly at the age of 37, it was a real shock and as well as having to deal with the practical side of the situation, you also have to deal with all the emotions that come with the loss too.

What losing someone so suddenly, with a young family of her own, also highlighted for me, was the importance of living life to the full and creating as many memories as possible, as well as knowing what their final wishes are, should anything ever happen.


What to do when someone dies

There are 4 things you must do in the first few days after someone dies:

  1. Get a medical certificate from a GP or hospital doctor to be able to register the death
  2. Register the Death within 5 days
  3. Arrange the Funeral
  4. Notify friends and relatives

Once you have registered the death, the Government have a new service called Tell us Once, which enables you to report the death to most government organisations in one go.

Once you have the death certificate, you then need to contact the person’s bank or mortgage, pension or insurance providers to close or change the details of their accounts.

Another difficult task that you might need to do at this time is to arrange for the person’s house to be thoroughly cleaned. This is particularly difficult in the case of a sudden or unexpected loss where emotions are running high. This is where a specialist unattended death cleaning firm can come in useful, as they provide families with experienced and compassionate cleanup professionals to help make this painful process easier.

There is lots of advice out there with handy checklists of things that need to be done, but in this day and age, there is also the person’s digital legacy to consider.

For me, as a blogger, my career heavily relies on my digital identity, so it is important to me to ensure that my career legacy is covered if anything unfortunate was to happen to me.


There are steps you can take yourself e.g.

  • In Gmail, you can set up an “inactive account manager”. If you don’t log in your account for a certain period of time, your designee(s) will be notified. You can also set the account to delete after a long period of inactivity.
  • For facebook I have set up a Legacy contact. This means that they can post to my timeline and send any final messages and ultimately delete my account should anything happen to me

If this is something you find yourself dealing with, SunLife has some useful information on finding out how to secure your digital legacy.

Probably the biggest tip I have for dealing with the death of someone close is to get the help of family and friends. With a funeral to organise, family and friends to tell, and other organisations to notify, make sure you aren’t taking on too much at an already stressful time.

20 thoughts on “What to do when someone dies”

  1. Sadly my family has had 3 deaths within a year of each other, 2 in the same month, so we have had to discover these steps on our own. I think we need to be more aware so thanks for sharing this information.

  2. I didn’t know all these things but it’s good to be aware of them in case something bad happens to people that I know (or me). I’d rather avoid this topic if possible but I know it’s good to know these things.

  3. I wouldn’t even begin to imagine what it’s like. Knock on wood, I haven’t had any loss in my immediate family or my husband’s but have of course experienced loss in the wider circle. I remember when my aunt died a few years ago. It was awful my cousins looked too shocked to do anything, so we all gathered around to help as much as we can. So yes, a list will definitely help!

  4. I am sorry for your loss but thankyou for this information. I had no idea what to do about Gmail or facebook. I used to be a nurse so I have had some experience of dealing with death. I think it is important to discuss issues like organ donation with your relatives including children when they are old enough to understand and to make sure you have made a will. When my mother died she had bought a prepaid funeral plan but I had no idea where she had put the paper work so we could not claim on it.

  5. Some really useful advice here for a time that is very hard and emotional. It’s not nice thinking about death but it’s good to be aware of the practicalities.

  6. some great tips, we lost my grandma recently and it was a nightmare because she passed away after an operation it took weeks for the hospital to sign the right paperwork to get the ball rolling.

    I am sorry to hear you lost your step sister lovely

  7. What great advice for an upsetting and delicate situation. I would not have had a clue what to do and at times like that you need a good clear advice article like this xx

  8. The tell us once service is a brilliant idea! I lost my nan earlier in the year and the ringing and telling all the different agencies and companies is an awful thing to have to do.


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