What Happens When Someone in the Military Dies?

Hat Army Military

Losing a loved one is never easy, but receiving the news that a member of the military has passed on while in service can be doubly cruel. With this in mind, the Ministry of Defence make sure they break the news as quickly and as compassionately as possible. As well as taking the utmost care during notification of next of kin, the military also offer financial and consolatory support for the hardest times following the bereavement. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect when someone in the military dies.


The Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) in Gloucestershire is manned around the clock to handle 86,000 calls a year – although not all of these deal with deaths in the service. However, at the merest suggestion that a service member may have been killed in the line of duty, the JCCC alerts casualty notifying officers (CNOs) of the possibility of bereavement, who then position themselves close to the residence of the military person’s next of kin and emergency contacts.

As soon as confirmation of the death comes through, the CNOs are dispatched to the houses in question to break the news as quickly as possible. The reasoning behind this approach is to alert the bereaved before they have any chance of learning through traditional news channels, social media or other manners. The CNOs are trained to deliver the bad news in as considerate and compassionate a manner as possible.

Funeral arrangements

The funeral will only be allowed to take place once a coroner (or procurator fiscal north of the border) has confirmed the cause of death. The funeral may take place in any part of Britain or an overseas country if that is where the next of kin is now based. The military will provide financial help for the following areas:

• Repatriation of the body to the home country
• Coffin
• Transportation to an undertaker or funeral director of your choice
• A service funeral (including a hearse and one extra car, the acquisition of a burial plot and a headstone)
• Funds of up to £3,446 for a private funeral

If there are complications surrounding the deceased’s death, there may be an inquest. These can be tumultuous and exacerbate stress levels at an already difficult time, so the Royal British Legion offers free legal advice for those struggling to manage on their own.


After the initial notification by the CNOs, a visiting officer (VO) is assigned to the bereaved persons to offer support with regard to the funeral arrangements, administration queries and the returning of the personal effects of the disease. VOs are not necessarily trained to offer emotional support, but they often stay in contact with the family for months or even years after the death. Cruse Bereavement Care and SSAFA offer additional grieving support.

Depending on the deceased’s pension and benefit scheme, the bereaved may also be entitled to financial compensation after their death. Furthermore, if it can be proven that their death was a direct result of their work, all of their assets may be exempt from inheritance tax and bereaved persons may also be entitled to a pay-out from their life insurance scheme, if the deceased had one.


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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
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The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

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In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family

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