Part 2 : How to make a report and do all the necessaries when a loved one passes away?
This must be one of the most depressing article or blog that you can come by over the net. You must wonder what coversations I have with my wife and children when I am at home. Well, someone has to do this morbid job or you would see tons of carcasses lying by the roadside. It is also difficult for me to visit anyone in the hospital or even say a simple hello, how are you, without having to receive this paraniod and quick answer of “I am very well thank you, don’t need your services yet”. For the sick, I seem to have a sudden gift of healing whenever I walk into a hospital room. As long as they are not hooked up on some machines, my friends who sees me walk into their rooms will automatically sit up and not look so sickly.
Now, getting down to business, we need to be prepared incase you are faced with a topic that is a taboo to our society. No one wants to be experienced in such matters unless you are really “sui” (cursed) having friends and family dying around you. (Then maybe I would like to have you be an agent for me….just have to drop off my cards wherever you visit.) On the other hand, unless you are interested in opening a funeral business then you will need to be as experienced as you can. If you are prepared, you probably won’t be fleeced by some unscrupulous undertakers.
If your loved one passes away at home, what should you do?
There are three types of home death, which may occur, one is death from an illness such as cancer, and secondly a heart attack. The third death is from a suicide.
1. Death in the form of illness. If a person has been suffering from a long-term illness such as cancer, bring along the letter or appointment card from the hospital. This will help the police to write down the cause of death. For cancer patient under Hospice care, a letter confirming the type of cancer can be otained from them. This letter reduces the hassle you may encounter with the police when reporting a death. The police will take down your statement and ask you to fill the JPN form. The police officer may or may not visit your house to verify that there was no foul play in the death. The officer will later issue a burial permit to the family.
2. Death in a form of a heart attack. If an ambulance has been called, and the attendants pronounced your loved one dead, you will have to immediately go to the police station to report the death. If a healthy person below the age of 60 passes away suddenly of a heart attack, the police may take the body to conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death. If the police do not order for an autopsy and if the deceased has PA insurance, you can request an autopsy done.
3. Suicide or murder. If you have checked to see if there is no pulse, do not touch or move the body around. Immediately call the police. If you are the one who discovered the body, remain there to give a statement and full account of how you discovered the body. If it was a murder, do not touch anything in the house, step outside, and wait for the police to arrive. (Got this from watching CSI, but it applies here as well).
I shall now attempt to write about when death occurs at home in the 1st and 2nd instances described above.
- Firstly, do not panic! Call the Peace Caskets if you do not have an undertaker yet. (throwing in a little self advertisement)
- Check the clock or watch to determine the time of death. In the statement, you have to mention the time of death. If you do not know the time when death occured, give an estimated time.
- Go to the nearest police station at your locality, and bring along the deceased IC, and do not forget yours too. You do not want to be fined for not carrying your IC with you in times like this.
- Give your statement. Go to the counter where the officers are seated, tell them you want to report a death of a loved one. You have to furnish the officer with details of the deceased such as, age, time of death, cause of death (if the deceased had been suffering from any illness, bring along the letter or appointment card) and details of how the deceased was discovered dead.
- JPN Form. The police will either ask you or help you to fill the blanks in the form. Be certain that all details are filled in correctly, as this will appear in the death certificate. If you do have an undertaker, the informant part of the form should be left blank, as a representative of the company can obtain the death cert for you.
- Burial Permit. The police will issue a burial permit either on the spot or at your home. You can ask the police if they are coming over to inspect the body. Do not clean, or change the body unless you are certain that the police are not coming to inspect the body.
- Photocopies. Usually I would make copies of the IC, Burial permit and hospital letter for the family but if you are not too sure if the appointed undertaker does so, make those copies for yourself. You will need a copy of the burial permit if you are placing an advertisement in The Star.
- Place in an envelope. Place the JPN form, Original IC, Burial Permit and the picture to enlarge in an envelope. The original IC would have to be surrendered to the JPN office together with a copy of the burial permit and hospital letter. The original burial permit would be given to either the crematorium or burial ground management.
- Clothes for the deceased. Bring out the clothes you wish to have the loved one dressed in and place it by the side, if you wish to dress the body by ourselves, do so by wearing an adult diaper for the deceaced. I will tell you why in later articles. If you wish to get the undertakers to do it, make sure the complete set of clothes is placed next to the body. Put aside 40 pieces of old clothes in two bags. I will tell you why in later articles too. (If all is mentioned here, then, there would be nothing much to write about).
- Deciding where you want to have the wake. The wake services are usually held for either 3 or 5 days. Normally if you do have relatives overseas and wishes to be back for the funeral, then 5 days is a better choice. If wake is to be held in the house, you can make space in the hall area for the casket to be placed. Do this while waiting for the police or the undertakers to arrive. (This is a time saver). If you are alone or do not have the manpower to move the items, decide to see where you want to shift the items or furniture to. One note of advice, whatever you shift, you must make sure you have the manpower to shift those things back after the funeral. If parlor is an option, the undertakers would be able to assist you in booking it. I shall write more about choosing the wake locality in future articles.
- Advertisement. If an obituary advertisement is needed, usually most newspapers have agents that are able to go to your place. In Penang however, The Star newspaper only has agents to provide this convenience to the people on the island but for those on the mainland they would have to go over to the island to place the ad. It is a good idea to prepare the obituary while waiting for the undertakers or the media agents to arrive. Make sure the names and dates are correct and if you are a Christian, wake and funeral time has to be accurate.
These are a few things you can do if your loved ones passed away at home; this will help you be more composed while waiting for arrangements to be made and for the wheel to get going.
The next article is aimed to ease your mind when a loved one passes away at the hospital.
By: Felix Nair – Funeral Director for Peace Casket
Tel: 04 899 1298 HP: 017 588 2498