Funeral Celebrant With Clasped Hands

Losing a loved one is never easy, and when it happens unexpectedly, it can leave us feeling overwhelmed and unprepared. During this emotionally challenging time, it's important to have clear guidance and support. This article provides a gentle walkthrough of the essential steps to take, along with resources to help you through this difficult period.

When someone dies unexpectedly

The immediate aftermath of a sudden loss can be confusing and sorrowful. It can be challenging to focus on practical matters while dealing with grief.

Nonetheless, taking certain steps can help manage legal, financial, and emotional aspects properly, honouring your loved one's memory and facilitating a smoother process for all involved. This guide aims to be a compassionate companion, assisting you through tough times with care.

Knowing what to do first is vital. Initial steps include confirming the death officially, notifying the appropriate authorities, and beginning to consider funeral arrangements. These tasks may appear overwhelming, especially amidst shock and grief.

Our guide simplifies these steps into manageable actions, offering clarity during chaos. We'll guide you on whom to contact first, handling necessary paperwork, and initiating funeral planning that respects your loved one's wishes and legacy.

Besides aiding you in the early stages, this article will also address seeking emotional and practical support. Grieving is personal, but you don’t have to face it alone. We'll present emotional support resources and practical assistance, aiding in estate matters and personal healing.

Remember, navigating grief and responsibilities requires time and patience. You don’t need to have everything figured out immediately.

Step 1: Who to inform

In the wake of a sudden loss, taking the first step might seem daunting. The following section aims to guide you through the initial actions necessary in the early days following your loved one's passing.

These steps are designed to help you manage the pressing legal and personal tasks that need attention, offering a pathway through the fog of grief with compassion and understanding.

Seek medical attention

If the person has just passed away and it's a medical emergency, call the appropriate local emergency services.

They will guide you through the initial next steps and confirm the death.

Notify the authorities

If the death was not in a hospital, you might need to inform the police, especially since it was unexpected.

They will proceed with their protocols and help arrange for the official pronouncement of death by a medical professional.

Contact funeral provider

After a death is officially pronounced, you will need to contact a funeral provider.

Providers like Distinct Cremations offer compassionate and professional services to assist in transporting the body and arranging a funeral that honours the life of your loved one.

Step 2: Make funeral arrangements

In the aftermath of a loved one's unexpected departure, the responsibility of making funeral arrangements while navigating through grief can seem incredibly overwhelming.

This section is designed to gently guide you through the process of organising a respectful and fitting farewell, including tips on choosing the right service provider, understanding different funeral types, and making informed decisions during this difficult time.

Decide on the funeral type

Deciding between burial and cremation is a deeply personal choice, influenced by religious beliefs, cultural traditions, environmental concerns, and personal preferences. Burial is often chosen for its traditional aspect and is encouraged in many religions.

Cremation, on the other hand, may be selected for its flexibility, allowing families to keep the ashes in an urn, scatter them in a meaningful location, inter them in a permanent resting place or even incorporate them into memorial objects. You may like to choose a traditional cremation, a direct cremation or a small, attended cremation.

Every option has a distinct process, cost, and considerations. It’s important to discuss these preferences with family members and consult with your chosen funeral provider to understand the implications of each choice fully.

If the deceased did not express their wishes, the decision would be left to the next of kin. Distinct Cremations can guide you through the cremation process and discuss various options with you.

Arrange the funeral service

Arranging the funeral service involves several steps that can be personalised to honour the life and wishes of your loved one. You'll need to decide on the type of service that best reflects their personality and legacy. This could range from a traditional funeral, with funeral readings and funeral hymns, to a more informal celebration of life. Consider the location for the service, whether it be at a funeral home, place of worship, or an outdoor space that was significant to the deceased. It's also important to think about who will lead the service, whether a religious leader, a professional celebrant, or a family member.

Additionally, you'll want to personalise the service with funeral music, photo displays, and tributes that resonate with the life being remembered. Selecting flowers, creating programs, and determining the sequence of events are all parts of the planning process where you can inject personal touches that make the service unique.

Remember, the goal is to create a meaningful and respectful tribute to your loved one.

Ready to arrange a funeral?

If you need to organise a funeral now, we are open 24/7 and will make all the arrangements from taking the deceased into our care and completing all the paperwork. Your customer service specialists will liaise with you to make arrangements for the cremation and keep you updated.

Call Now On 01543 211997

Step 4: Health and well-being

During the difficult time of planning a funeral, it's vital to remember the importance of self-care and support for both yourself and others who are grieving.

This section will offer practical advice and resources to help manage your health and well-being throughout this challenging period.

Seek bereavement support

Comforting hand holding2

The emotional toll of an unexpected death can be overwhelming. It's important to seek bereavement support for emotional and psychological well-being. There are many bereavement support groups and counselling services that can help you cope during this time.

Alongside seeking support, practising self-care is crucial during the grieving process. This might involve ensuring you're eating well, getting enough sleep, and taking some time out for activities that bring you comfort or peace.

Whether it's going for a walk, reading a book, or simply sitting in nature, allowing yourself moments of respite can aid in coping with stress and loss.

Take care of yourself and family

Family Of Three Embracing

Remember to take care of your physical health. This means eating well, getting enough sleep, and accepting help from friends and family when offered.

Maintaining connections with friends and family members is also more important than ever. These connections can provide essential emotional support and serve as a reminder that you are not alone in your grief. It can be beneficial to share memories of the deceased, express your feelings, and even share moments of silence.

Sometimes, just knowing that others share your sense of loss can be incredibly comforting. Staying in touch, whether through in-person visits, phone calls, or messages, can make a significant difference in your healing process.


  • 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

Step 5: Personal Matters

Attending to personal matters in the aftermath of a loss is a crucial step in the grieving process. It often involves handling the logistical and practical aspects that the deceased left behind. This may include executing wills, managing estate affairs, and dealing with any other legal or financial obligations.

While it may feel overwhelming, addressing these responsibilities can provide a sense of closure and help you move forward. In this section, we will explore some key considerations and offer guidance to help you navigate this complex terrain with compassion and care.

Gather important documents

Couple Looking At Papers In Kitchen

Locate the will, if there is one, along with other crucial documents like life insurance policies, financial records (including bank statements, investment portfolios, and retirement accounts), and legal papers (such as property deeds, contracts, and estate planning documents).

It's important to have these documents organised and accessible in case they are needed.

Begin probate process

Signing papers

If the deceased had assets, such as property, money, or possessions, the probate process may be necessary to settle the estate. Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims, and distributing the deceased person's property under a valid will.

Engaging a probate attorney can provide you with invaluable guidance to navigate the complexities and legalities of this process smoothly and efficiently.

The funeral

It's crucial to give yourself the space to grieve and take things one step at a time. Distinct Cremations is here to support you with respectful and dignified arrangements that honour the memory of your loved one.

Whether a direct cremation or a small, intimate farewell, Distinct Cremations can assist in creating a personalised service, from music selections to eulogies and hymns.

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:

Pen And Notepad On Table

  • 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

Other helpful resources

What to do when someone dies at home


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

Care Home Courtyard

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

Hospital exterior

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 followed their instinct with Distinct and chose to buy a funeral with us.

Based on 721 reviews Feefo Logo Feefo Gold 2024
Read all our reviews
Werner 12 Jul 2024
Friendly, pulite and simply SUPER
Nikki 10 Jul 2024
There was nothing too difficult or no question too silly. Every care was taken with all the arrangements and I was kept up to date at all times. I sent through items which were quickly handled and was notified of their receipt and the actions made with them. Even changing things was never too much of a problem.
Anon 27 Jun 2024
The service was first class. Signing up was easy to complete and the follow up call to ensure every thing was as we had expected was a nice personal touch.
John 27 Jun 2024
It was polite, patient and thorough. i was given as much time as I needed to reach a decision.Completely
Anon 30 May 2024
first class
Mark 21 May 2024
Excellent communication, very helpful and we got just what we wanted in a service. Highly recommended and we will use again. Mark Oliver
Anon 2 May 2024
Service very efficient, and comprehensive. Understandably, you "chased me up" when there was a delay in my response to place an order, but this delay was whilst I contacted all those relatives who might have had a view to express.
Anon 24 Apr 2024
I was very happy with the service I received and they are only a phone call away if I or my sons should need advice or help in any way
Based on 721 reviews
Feefo Logo
Read all our reviews

Not found what you're looking for?

Not found what you're looking for?