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On the second day we got up early to do the paperwork type stuff. We first had to go to the hospital to collect the paperwork we needed from them. There was a form stating cause of death that we had to hand to the registrar when we went to the registry office; a release form to hand to the undertaker, which enabled them to get the body from the hospital; some leaflets about what to do when someone dies; a form to send to the local job centre which tells DWP to stop paying any benefits and retire the national insurance number; mum's belongings in two bags, with a list of what was in there.

The hospital weren't very happy because they work on an appointment basis and we hadn't made one. Apparently we'd been told we needed one the day before but all three of us had failed to take it in. It was also written in a booklet we were given, but none of us had felt like reading it. You may want to check with the hospital or hospice as to what their arrangements are rather than just turning up. And getting them to write it down. They did see us, but we had to wait for a while in a corridor - rather than being seen more or less immediately and left to wait in a private room.

After the hospital we had to go to the registry office in the district that mum died in. This is really important - the death has to be registered in the office local to the place the person died, rather than one that may be convenient to you. Mum died in the district of Wandsworth, so that's where we went.

To register the death you need the paperwork from the hospital (if that's where your relative died) and various pieces of information about the person. This includes the full name (with proper spelling) of the deceased, their job title, maiden name (if a woman) and, if their spouse pre-deceased them, the full name and job title of their spouse when they died.

Make sure you have some idea of how many you need, because proper copies of the death certificate cost much much more if you have to get them after you leave the registry office than if you get them done while you're there. You need proper copies for anything financial - regular photocopies will not do, and while some do send them back, many organisations do not, so it's generally a good rule of thumb to get one per financial account.

The registry office saw us pretty quickly and the registrar that we saw put us at our ease and was very knowledgable and compassionate.

A good funeral director is worth their weight in gold, as they tend to liase with and co-ordinate everything and everyone. We went to see them as soon as we finished with the registrar. We went with a local company, who quite a few people had recommened to us, W. A. Truelove and Son (Ltd) and they were fantastic.

We went in not knowing how any of this stuff was done and they gently guided us through the entire process. They helped us tailor the funeral to our budget and were flexible on changing things afterwards as we thought of things.

Our funeral director took us through choosing the coffin, the details of the funeral and the arrangement of the dates. While we were in the office he talked to head office about booking the funeral, with the vicar to arrange the church and to the cemetary about opening up our father's grave. The only things we had to provide were the body release which the hospital had given us, and the plot number at the cemetary.

They were clear with us about what the costs would be and provided us an estimate of the final total there and then.

The only money we had to provide up front were what they called disbursments, which were costs that were outside of their organisation. For us, this was the cost of the church/vicar and the fee to go to the cemetary for reopening the grave (and removing the old headstone).

By the time we left we knew when the funeral would be and where. We chose to provide clothes for mum to be buried in, but you can choose to buy a shroud from the funeral director. They were also brilliant and agreed to dye mum's hair for us. Because of her illness the roots had been growing out and I knew this upset her when alive, and was something I wanted fixed before she was buried.

Don't get upset with yourself if you get hung up on weird details like this. I think everyone does, and the funeral directors do understand and try to help where possible, as with the dying of mum's hair. They also dressed her in clothes we provided and put jewellery that we wanted on her.

The funeral director did want someone to check the body before they sealed the coffin, to make sure she was laid out to our satisfaction, so be aware that you may be asked to view the body again by them. Phil, Pat and I didn't want to (I couldn't have done it again), having seen mum at the hospital, so Ben volunteered.

The funeral director also made it clear that we (and any family or friends we authorised) could view the body at any time, up to about three hours before the funeral.

They also made sure to follow up to everything they did with either a phone call or a letter so we knew where things were every step of the way, and when the vicar didn't contact us to arrange things his end, they contacted him and we ended up meeting him within a day of them chasing him up. They also arranged and co-ordinated donations in mum's name to Macmillan nurses, and an order of service.

We made it clear at the start that payment was dependent on us managing mum's estate, and this took us four months, in which we kept them up to date with where we were with the estate and they didn't chase us, but were very professional and compassionate.

On the day of the funeral itself, they made things go very smoothly with regard to everything, especially timings. They were discrete when they needed to be and organised everything. One thing we weren't aware of on the day and only found out afterwards, but may be of use to you, is that the tip for the staff who work the funeral is usually given to the head person on the day of the funeral.

The florist was the last thing we did on day two, in terms of organisation. They provided a book of various arrangements and we picked from them. They let us take cards to give to them before the funeral. As it was, we forgot until the night before and dropped them in on the morning of the funeral, which they were fine with. The florist sent the flowers to the funeral directors, so they arrived with the coffin on the hearse.



This entry was originally posted at http://lizziec.dreamwidth.org/415542.html. There are currently comment count unavailable comments on the original entry.

Date: 10 October 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bethanthepurple.livejournal.com
Thanks for posting these. I'm putting them in memories cos it's the sort of thing I need to know but never really get taught.

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