Renfrewshire Council

Death and bereavement support

Speaking to someone following a death, getting a medical certificate, registering a death or still-birth, planning and paying for a funeral, other financial help, coping with grief and bereavement support.

This is a guide to some of the practical steps you need to do when you lose a loved one. 

We've also included some other information that will help at this time, including details of different people you can talk to about your bereavement.

Speaking to someone

The death of someone close to you can be overwhelming, and you may need practical advice to help you manage. You may also need to speak to someone about how you feel.

You can get practical advice from a funeral director, your family doctor, a solicitor, your local social work department or Citizens Advice Bureau. If a health visitor or district nurse attended the person who died, he or she may be able to help. If the person died in hospital, speak to the Charge Nurse who may refer you to the hospital chaplain or social worker.

There are several organisations that can offer you counselling or emotional support. You may wish to contact your minister of religion.

We have information further down the page about people you can speak to who will help you in coping with grief.

Getting a medical certificate

If someone dies at home

If death occurs during the night and is sudden and unexpected, the doctor should be notified at once. Otherwise, you can call the doctor in the morning.

The doctor will either issue a medical certificate of cause of death (Form 11) needed by the registrar, provided that there are no unusual circumstances; or in some cases, report the death to the Procurator Fiscal.

If someone dies in hospital

The hospital will issue a medical certificate of cause of death provided the cause of death is quite clear. They may ask you to consider authorising a post-mortem examination if that would provide valuable information about the person's final illness or treatment which could help other people. In some cases, they report the death to the Procurator Fiscal.

Registering a death or still-birth

See Register a death

Planning the funeral

We know how difficult this can be while you are grieving, but you should start planning the funeral as soon as possible.

Before contacting a funeral director or making any arrangements, check whether the person had a pre-paid funeral plan or bond. Look among personal papers at home or with relatives. If such a document exists, contact the plan or bond provider who will give details as to which funeral director should be contacted.

You can plan for a funeral yourself, but most people go to a funeral director (or undertaker) who can take over all the arrangements. Funeral directors are normally a most helpful support to the family.

If you wish to have a funeral service, contact the minister of religion as soon as possible. Most ministers appreciate a personal approach by relatives and can be helpful in many ways.

If you wish to have the services of a minister but do not know one in the area, most funeral directors can advise and in some cases arrange for one to officiate at the service. If you would prefer a non-religious service at the funeral, you may be able to get help with this by contacting the Humanist Society of Scotland.

Paying for the funeral

Funerals can be expensive, so please ensure you aware of the cost before finalising arrangements.

The money and possessions left by the person who passed away

Reasonable funeral expenses take priority over other debts on the person's estate, however the person's bank account may be frozen unless it is a joint account. Speak to the branch manager of the bank. They will be able to explain this process in more detail..

Get help with funeral costs

You may be able to get help with the cost of a funeral, including applying for the Funeral Support Payment or getting financial support from a benevolent fund.

Other sources of money to help pay for a funeral might include an insurance policy, a tax refund, a cash sum, pension, or war pension.

Getting financial help

You may qualify for benefit help if you are:

  • a widow, widower or surviving civil partner, or
  • if you have established or can establish under Scots law a marriage by cohabitation with habit and repute.

This includes bereavement benefits, and extra benefit or pension that widows, widowers and surviving civil partners may get on their husband's, wife's or civil partner's National Insurance record.

You may also be able to get help if:

  • you are responsible for arranging the funeral (get claim pack SF 200)
  • you have a low income (you may also get help with NHS health costs)
  • you are bringing up a child on your own
  • your baby was stillborn
  • the person who died was a war pensioner.

Our Advice Works service is there to help you. It's free and confidential. Our trained advisors can explain more about which benefits you are entitled to claim. You can call Advice Works on 0300 300 1238.

Coping with grief

As well as the practical issues, the death of someone close brings a whole range of feelings and emotions. If you are experiencing loss or dealing with grief following the death of someone close to you, or the loss of something that is important to you, you can get support from the Renfrewshire Bereavement Network.

Each person's grief is different, but the NHS provides some advice on how to manage feelings of grief and begin to come to terms with what has happened. See NHS inform's advice on Coping with grief.