Ahmad Ali

reliable source of wise counsel

What to do when someone dies

batu-nisanAs morbid this blog may be, I need it more for my reference before I forget the process once again. Also it may be helpful to those who have been asking me now and then procedures/processes involving death. Do take note that on the later part, this article is meant for muslim funeral.

When someone dies at home, it is advisable not to move the deceased. We will have to call a doctor to certify that the person is really dead and sign off on the cause of death. And yes, we have to pay for the doctor’s services. Usually, we will call the doctor that the person has medical history with. Most times, we will call an ambulance after such incident. The paramedic will certify that the person is dead but will not certify the cause of death. Only a trained doctor can. Otherwise, the body will have to be brought to the Singapore General Hospital mortuary.

Usually, a person will be hospitalised before he/she passes. In this case, if the hospital has the medical history of the person, then they can certify the cause of death. NOTE, this is when the person is already hospitalised and dies AND has medical history with the hospital. If the person has a medical history with the hospital and dies while on the way to hospital, the hospital may not certify the cause of death. Hence, the body will be brought to the mortuary in SGH which is located in Block 9, a block that no one wants to visit.

Similarly, if a person is healthy, visits a hospital, goes for checkup and suddenly dies, the hospital will not certify cause of death because the patient do not have a medical history with the hospital. Hence the body will be sent to the mortuary.

If a person dies at home and once certified by a doctor, we will need to go to the police post to get the Cause of Death Certificate. We will need to send a copy of this certificate to the undertaker by fax so that they can prepare the burial documents with Cemetery Office. Oh, do not expect the police to help you fax. They wont.

In cases where a deceased has to be sent to mortuary, police will be informed. The case will be assigned an Investigation Officer. He will come and take statement or police officers at the hospital will do for him. You will be told to go to mortuary the next day 9am. The hospital will make arrangements for the body to be sent to mortuary. Usually by 7am, they will send the body. You can call the hospital to confirm the departure.

Before you get jumpy, this is the process in Singapore. Going to mortuary, doesnt mean a post mortem will be done. The hospital where the patient died will send all the documents to the mortuary. The pathologists will review and if all is in order and he is satisfied with the cause of death, no post mortem will be done. He will sign off the cause of death. You can also help by bringing all documents pertaining to any ailments the deceased suffered and all medicines he/she has been taking.
You can also get your family doctor to write a report to state that the deceased had been his patient for a number of years and is on etc etc…

At the mortuary, dont sibuk sibuk and kepoh at the counter. This is not like years ago. There is still a queue obviously but its not like you first come first serve. Queue number will be assigned. So do not come at 7am to wait at front door. Anyway there are 2 doors. The investigator will handle everything. The investigator will inform and ask you questions if needed. This including having to identify the deceased before examination and after confirmation that deceased can be released.

You will be given a form. You need to fill up the form in order to claim the body later. By this time, you would have called your undertaker on standby. They will ask you questions pertaining to the death. They will roughly know how long it will take and whether got post mortem or not.

If no post mortem is done, SGH will release the deceased. The investigation officer will inform you of this and you will have to identify the deceased again as I stated above. Usually by 11pm, if all is smooth, deceased will be released.

Muslim Undertaker
MAKE SURE you do not come alone to claim the deceased. Have about 6 person because you will need to carry the deceased from the room into the van. The undertaker will tell you what to do.

If deceased is a foreigner or PR, and to be buried in Singapore, permission need to be granted first. We will need to get the decease passport and NRIC and bring it to the Cemetery Office. There they will make a copy and fax over to an office in city. I cant remember which or whose office is it. Usually permission will be granted in couple of hours. And NO, we cannot fax or send image to them from where we are. We need to go to the Cemetery Office personally.

If deceased is Singaporean, you can check with undertaker if they will settle with the Cemetery Office the burial payment and documents. If I remember correctly, it will cost about $300. The undertaker will help with the documents faxing over and payment. They will have someone on standby at the office. This saves your time to travel all the way to the office and back if need to.

I hope I have covered everything. This is all based on my experience. I started writing this after a death occured but stop for a while. Hence I may have left out some notes. Anyway this the gist of it.

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