End of life

What to do at the time of death

If death occurs in a hospital, care home or hospice, the staff will let your family know what they need to do.

If death occurs at home, then your family must inform your GP, register the death and contact the funeral director.

Useful resources

Deaths from mesothelioma

Doctors must report some deaths, including those from mesothelioma, to the coroner.

In England and Wales, the coroner will decide whether a post mortem or inquest is needed and sign the death certificate. Procedures in Scotland and Northern Ireland are different. For more information, call the BLF Helpline on 03000 030 555 or read our mesothelioma end of life information.

Arranging the funeral

Arranging a funeral, either for yourself or a loved one, may be upsetting, but some people find it plays an important role in adjusting to the end of life. Some of us have already had thoughts about how we want our funeral to be. If so, don’t be afraid to write them down or let someone know what is important to you.

If you are arranging the funeral, it’s important to think about what kind of funeral you want. The range of options includes religious and non-religious ceremonies. The funeral director will guide you through the practical and legal arrangements.

Some people may have already taken out a pre-paid funeral plan, or may be entitled to a funeral payment from the Department for Work and Pensions. Similar arrangements apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Life after the death of a loved one

It is normal to have a variety of emotions after the death of a loved one. There is no timetable for what you should feel or when. Some people have strong emotions immediately after the death of someone close to them, but many people do not experience these emotions until much later on. Some people feel grief and loss before their loved one dies.

You may want to share your feelings with family and friends but, equally, you may not feel comfortable doing this. You may find it easy to talk to a particular person – don’t be afraid to let them know how you feel.

Some teams might be able to offer you bereavement support after the death of your loved one. Talk to your doctor and nurse about what services and information are available locally. If you sense that how you are feeling is not right or you are not coping, don’t be afraid to talk to your GP. It is common for people to need a little bit more support.

"Although the death of my mum was inevitable it still came as a shock to me. Despite everyone around me trying to say that her time was nearing the end it still shook me to the very core, and I struggled to make sense of events.

After my mum's death I experienced tiredness like no other, it's not like after a day's hard work, or a late night but an ongoing indescribable tiredness which sometimes makes living life a struggle. You compensate by trying to become overtly organised but struggle to maintain this. I became forgetful and found maintaining focus difficult.

Small steps - taking an hour, a day, a week and a month at a time - that's the way forward. Bad days, better days, go with flow of how you feel. Talking about events over and over again is helpful - her final days, the funeral - that is important – it helps make sense of events." 

- Penny

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Last medically reviewed: March 2015. Due for review: March 2018

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.