The festive period is usually a time for fun, frivolity, family and friends.  This year, for many people, they don’t want to hold back on festive cheer, particularly after the cancellation of Christmas in 2020 due to the Covid-19 restrictions here in the UK at that time.

But what happens if a loved one dies during the Christmas period?  Sadly, this does happen and if it does, we want to reassure you that there is help and assistance at every step of the way.  Funeral Directors are dedicated and committed professionals and are always on call in your time of need.

An unexpected death at Christmas time

If a loved one unexpectedly passes away, it’s always an overwhelming shock.  But it can be even more of a shock if it occurs during the festive period.

The first thing you need to do is to call 999 as soon as possible and ask for the Ambulance Service.  After you’ve answered a few key questions from the 999 team, an ambulance crew will be despatched and will deal with the immediate situation at hand.  They’re in the best place to advise you on the next steps to be taken.

Dealing with an unexpected death throws up some unique challenges.  The death may need to be reported to a Coroner who will need to establish the cause of death.  They’ll probably need to conduct an examination or hold an inquest to thoroughly determine the cause of death.  Once this examination is completed and the cause of death is established, and a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death has been issued, the Coroner will release your loved one to your chosen Undertaker, who will then be at your service throughout the rest of the process.

An expected death at Christmas time

If you know that your loved one is poorly, say due to terminal illness, and they pass away during the Christmas period, then the first thing to do is to call your GP.  GP’s are on call throughout the festive break, but if you can’t get hold of them, then contact 111, who will talk you through the next steps.

A healthcare professional will visit your premises and once they’ve confirmed the death of your loved one and issued a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, you should then contact your Funeral Director who will take over the next steps.  They will be responsible for removing the body and guide you through registering the death and the subsequent funeral arrangements.

An expected death in hospital

If a loved one dies in hospital, then the hospital staff will be responsible for the next steps.  The hospital bereavement service will be able to arrange for the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death to be issued.  Most hospitals have their own mortuary, so the body will initially be taken there to be looked after until you can make arrangements with your Funeral Director.  Upon release of the body to the Funeral Director, your loved one will be cared for at their premises until the funeral takes place.

Registering the death

Under normal circumstances, the death of a loved one needs to be registered within 5 days of the passing.  You will need the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death in order to do this.  However, it can be challenging during the holiday season, but your Funeral Director will assist and guide you in the right direction.


It’s important to know that you’re not alone if something as heartbreaking and shocking as a loved one passing away during the Christmas period.  As shocking as it is, there is help and support at every step of the journey to guide you, support you, comfort and advise you.

We are SC and BS Cocks – a long-established, family-run funeral service since 1960, helping people all over Gloucestershire in their hours of need.

If you need any further information, please take a look at our website or give us a call on 10452 617 892 – we’re here to help.