Will you know what to do when a loved one passes away in hospital? Your mind will be flooded with emotions and grief – hardly a time for logical, rational thought. In amongst all the machines, the medical staff, the other patients and your distraught family members you will soon have to make some important decisions. We have written this guide to prepare you and to assist you and your family if you find yourself in this difficult situation.
- Appointing a Funeral Undertaker
Once the medical staff have declared the time of death you will soon be asked to appoint a Funeral Undertaker to remove your loved one and to take their body to a private mortuary. Very few private hospitals have facilities to store a body when a person passes away in their care and so they will need you to call an undertaker as soon as possible. Hospitals generally have business cards and brochures for several local funeral undertakers, but you should not feel pressured to take the first option(s) presented to you. Do your own online research. Ask family and friends for recommendations. A rushed decision may result in later regrets if the funeral is not handled with appropriate care, compassion and dignity or does not respect the unique life story of your loved one.
You may remain at the hospital bedside until the undertaker’s staff arrive or you may choose to go home once you have said your final goodbyes. There is no right or wrong decision and you should not feel rushed or pressured to leave. Nominate a family member to be the contact for the funeral director to call in due course.
- Deciding on burial or cremation
You will be asked by the nurse, the doctor or the undertaker’s staff to indicate whether a cremation is to take place. If so, the attending doctor will be required to complete additional documentation for the crematorium. The undertaker will provide the required documents for the doctor to complete.
- Hospital documentation
The hospital staff / Funeral Undertaker will arrange the completion of a DHA1663 (Notice of Death), the original of which will be handed in due course to the Funeral Undertaker (along with the cremation documents if cremation has been specified). In most instances the Funeral Undertaker will hand in the original DHA1663 when registering the death at Home Affairs on your family’s behalf. Your Funeral Undertaker will provide you with copies of the DHA1663 along with the official original Death Certificate issued by the Department of Home Affairs.
- Caring for family and friends
Take care of immediate family and friends who may be extremely emotional and upset. Your and their safety and wellbeing are the most important factor at this time. Try to get some rest before worrying about the funeral or other requirements and before making any big decisions. Let close friends and family know of the passing of your loved one.
- Scheduling time to discuss funeral arrangements
When you are ready, schedule a time to meet a representative of the Funeral Undertaker to discuss the funeral arrangements and the options available to you. Do not feel pressurised into making big decisions. You have time to consider all options and to consult family and friends before committing to any specific ceremony and related aspects. Your Funeral Undertaker will take care of all necessary administration on your behalf.
Do not hesitate to contact your nearest branch office of Sonja Smith Elite Funeral Group if you require assistance or advice. Contact details are on our website www.sonjasmith-funerals.co.za . You may also call our emergency line which is available 24/7 on 079 895 4414.
We hope that you have found this guide to be helpful. Please feel free to comment below.