When a loved one receives care in a hospice setting, the focus shifts to comfort, dignity, and ensuring a peaceful passing. While hospice professionals provide exceptional support throughout this time, understanding what to expect after death in a hospice can be both practical and emotionally helpful for families.

What happens when someone dies in a hospice

The final chapter of a loved one's life journey can be a deeply emotional and tender experience.

When hospice care becomes the cornerstone of their final days, the focus gracefully shifts towards ensuring comfort, preserving dignity, and facilitating a peaceful passing. While hospice professionals provide exceptional and compassionate support throughout this time, navigating the immediate aftermath of death in a hospice setting can be a source of both practical and emotional concerns for families.

This comprehensive guide delves into the essential steps involved in navigating this difficult situation.

We'll explore what to expect after someone passes away in hospice, the legalities involved, and the resources available to ensure a smooth transition during this sensitive time. By understanding these procedures and the support systems in place, you can better cope with the practicalities and focus on cherishing the memory of your loved one.

Immediate steps: Respectful care and time for goodbyes

The immediate moments following the passing of a loved one in hospice require thoughtful actions that prioritise both honouring the wishes of the deceased and allowing family members a precious space for final goodbyes.

The below steps are set out if you are present when your loved one dies. However, in some cases, you may be alerted by the hospice staff that your loved one has passed away.

In this case, the first two steps below won't apply as the trained hospice staff will take care of the necessary formalities.

  1. Alerting hospice staff

    If there are no staff in the room at the time, the first step is to inform the nurses or healthcare aides on duty. Trained with sensitivity, they will ensure all necessary medical procedures are followed and attend to the immediate needs of the deceased.

  2. Confirmation of death

    A doctor or registered nurse will formally confirm the passing. This typically involves checking vital signs and may include a brief physical examination.

  3. Time with your loved one

    Hospice staff understand the immense emotional weight of this moment. In most cases, they will create a quiet and private space for family and loved ones to spend their final moments with the deceased and say their goodbyes.

  4. Contacting family

    Once you have composed yourself, you may want to begin informing close family members about the passing. Leaning on trusted loved ones for support during this initial phase is crucial.

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Moving forward with practicalities

Obtaining the medical certificate

When someone dies in a hospice, you’ll need to get the death confirmed officially by a medical professional before any further action can be taken. The medical professional will then issue a Medical Certificate, allowing you to register the death.

Considering funeral arrangements

While emotions are likely running high, some preliminary decisions regarding funeral arrangements may need to be made. Hospice staff can often provide recommendations for funeral providers or services familiar with handling deceased individuals from hospice care.

Contacting a funeral provider

A funeral provider plays a key role in the dignified transportation of the deceased to a funeral home or mortuary. They will also guide you through various funeral service options, be it a traditional burial, direct cremation, or a memorial service.

If the deceased held a prepaid funeral plan, you’ll need to get in touch with the relevant funeral provider and make them aware of what’s happened. If the deceased didn’t have a prepaid funeral plan, you’ll need to instruct the services of a funeral provider of your choosing like us here at Distinct Cremations.

We are open 24/7 and we will make all the arrangements from taking the deceased into our care to completing all the paperwork. Our customer service specialists will liaise with you to make arrangements for the cremation and keep you updated.

Call us to arrange on 01543 212 000

Arrange a funeral

Registering the death

It's crucial to register the death within a designated timeframe, five days in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, eight days in Scotland. Contacting your local register office is the first step, and they can be easily found through a web search or by inquiring at your local council.

The registrar will guide you through the registration process, which involves presenting specific documentation. This typically includes the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) issued by the doctor in hospice, along with the deceased's full name, date of birth, and their usual address.

Obtaining the death certificate

You will receive an official death certificate after registration. Obtaining a death certificate following the passing of a loved one in hospice is a necessary step. This legal document serves as official confirmation of the death and plays a crucial role in various administrative processes.

Having several certified copies of the death certificate readily available is recommended. These copies will be essential for various legal and administrative tasks you may encounter throughout the process of settling the deceased's affairs, such as closing bank accounts and dealing with probate and inheritance.

Arranging a funeral

Following the registration of the death and amidst the waves of grief, a significant decision arises - planning a funeral service to commemorate the life of your departed loved one.

Here are some things to consider:

Choosing a funeral provider

Wooden coffin with a bouquet of funeral flowers laid on top

A funeral provider plays a key role in the dignified transportation of the deceased to a funeral home or mortuary. They will also guide you through the various funeral service options available, be it a traditional burial, cremation, direct cremation or a memorial service.

Discuss your preferences with them and any specific requests you may have regarding the care of your loved one's remains.

Making funeral choices

Simple Cremation

Funeral providers can present various options to suit your budget and wishes. This may involve selecting a coffin or urn, arranging the viewing or wake, and planning the funeral ceremony itself.

Remember, there are no right or wrong choices, and it's perfectly acceptable to have a simple and intimate ceremony or a larger gathering to celebrate the life of the deceased.

Distinct Cremations: A compassionate partner

Planning a funeral amidst the emotional turmoil of losing a loved one can be overwhelming. Here at Distinct Cremations, we understand the delicate nature of this difficult time and we offer dedicated support throughout the process.

Contact us today or request a free guide to learn more about our services, which include:

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  • 24/7 availability: We are available to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have, any day at any time.
  • Transparent pricing: We offer clear and upfront pricing for all our services, ensuring you can make informed decisions without any hidden costs.
  • Nationwide coverage: Our network of trusted partners allows us to serve families across the UK.
  • A compassionate team: Our team is dedicated to providing dignified and respectful care for the deceased and their loved ones.
  • Comprehensive support: We go beyond simply arranging funeral logistics. Our team is available to provide guidance and support with various aspects of the process, including navigating legal requirements and accessing bereavement resources.

Call us on 01543 211997

Support during bereavement

Many hospices offer bereavement support services to families following a loss. This may include individual counselling, support groups, or educational resources.


  • Take time to grieve: The grieving process is unique to each individual, and there's no right or wrong way to grieve. Allow yourself time to process your emotions and seek support from loved ones or professional counsellors when needed.
  • Seek help if needed: Don't hesitate to reach out for help if you're struggling to cope with the loss. Talking to a trusted friend, family member, therapist, or joining a support group can be immensely beneficial during this challenging time.

Bereavement support and helplines:

There are a number of charities and helplines doing great work for those recently bereaved:

  • Samaritans (Call: 116 123) - Free 24/7 support for anyone needing any kind of emotional support
  • Cruse (Call: 0808 808 1677) - Free helpline supporting those suffering with bereavement or loss
  • Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (Call: 0300 111 5065) - UK support line meeting the needs and overcoming the isolation experienced by people over 18 who have been bereaved by suicide
  • Veterans UK (Call: 0808 191 4218) - Government-ran support organisation providing free support for veterans and their families
  • Age UK (Call: 0800 678 1602) - The UK's leading charity helping millions of older people with support, companionship and advice
  • The Silver Line (Call: 0800 470 8090) - Free 24/7 helpline for older people struggling with loneliness, sadness or lowness

Other helpful resources

What to do when someone dies at home

House In The Countryside

As opposed to those who die in a hospice, hospital or care home, at home you won't have anyone to guide you through the process. That’s why it’s important to know what you’ll need to do before that happens.

Find out more

When someone dies in a care home

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When someone dies in a care home, it’s slightly different to a hospice, home or hospital but the steps you’ll need to take are mostly the same. This article has a step-by-step guide and information on outstanding care home fees.

Find out more

What to do when someone dies in hospital

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When a loved one dies in a hospital, you’ll likely be made aware that death is imminent and be able to prepare for it although it doesn’t take away the impact of the loss. Here's what you need to do when someone dies in hospital.

Find out more

We offer the highest level of support, but don't take our word for it

Below are a selection of reviews from those who have purchased a funeral through Distinct Cremations.

From the very first phone call I felt things were going to be handled well. Kindness compassion and helpful ness were shown throughout. I was kept informed about all the details and the person delivering the ashes was so respectful and kind taking the time to ask about my husbands life. This is who will handle my cremation.
Received excellent service from Distinct Cremations. The passing of my stepfather was very distressing and emotional time for my family. David at DC kept us up to date with the arrangements, and talked us through each step of the plan, and kept the admin to a minimum. The cost of the Direct cremation was as advertised, which I found to be good value. Thank you everyone at DC.
Excellent service. Professional but still friendly considering the subject being discussed can be awkward for some people.
Very good very helpful customer service Price was very competitive overall very happy
Polite prompt friendly service
Great service, easy to arrange. Very friendly people
Very easy to set up.
Excellent service from Distinct Cremations. My contact was Kerry who was extremely efficient, polite, professional and thoughtful. Every step of my father's cremation was very well explained from start to finish with plenty of contact but only when required. Thank you for a smooth process. I have no issues at all with Distinct and my husband and I will be taking out a plan ourselves in the near future.
702 reviews
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Feefo Gold 2024
702 reviews

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