The death of a loved one is always a heavy blow to absorb.
Thinking about the documents you will need or calls you will need to make to organize a funeral are likely the furthest things from your mind. Especially at that moment you first hear the awful news.
Amidst intense feelings of grief and confusion, you may find yourself repeating a single question in your mind. What do I do next?
The purpose of this article is to provide answers to that question.
Reporting the death
In Barbados, your first responsibility is to notify the police of the death. In the situation, you believe a loved one in your home is at death’s door and has not passed as yet. You can call emergency number 511 and have an ambulance visit your home.
If the Paramedics find no sign of carotid pulse or breathing, they will inform the police. Afterward, the Paramedics will leave without moving the body.
The body will remain in the same position for when the police arrive to conduct their investigation. In the case, you believe your loved one has passed, notify the police immediately.
Why must the police be informed?
There are various reasons but, here is one of them. All deaths that occur in the home are not natural.
The police must investigate the possibility of foul play or murder being the cause of death.
When the police arrive, they will also call out one of their doctors to your home to examine the body. If your loved one is deceased, the doctor will then officially pronounce them as dead.
A death at home is not the only one that occurs. In the situation, your loved one passed away in a hospital or another medical facility.
Medical professionals will handle this step. When the death of your loved one occurs in a nursing home, the nurse on duty will contact that respective nursing home’s manager. The manager will then reach out to a doctor, the police, and notify you.
Contacting A Funeral Home and Gathering all the Necessary Documents
After the doctor pronounces your loved one as deceased, your next responsibility is to contact a funeral home.
To mention a few, you can select to work with KMJ Transport & Funeral Services, Jo-Anne Jones Funeral Services, St. George’s Home For Funerals or any others listed in our directory. There are many on the island.
The respective funeral director would then visit your location and begin talks with you.
In general, if the deceased has a personal doctor and visited that doctor within the last three months, that doctor can give the funeral home a medical death certificate.
After the funeral home receives the certificate, the police will permit the funeral home to move the body. However, if the deceased has not recently seen a doctor, the body will go to the coroner for an autopsy. After the autopsy, the coroner and the police must permit the funeral home to move the body into their storage area.
This process is required for the funeral home to get a death certificate and certificate of death for the deceased later on.
A certificate of death is not the same as a death certificate. It is needed when dealing with institutions such as banks and insurance companies.
It is best to select a funeral home quickly. For example, in the case, your loved one passes in hospital. Until you contact a funeral home, the hospital stores the deceased’s body in the hospital morgue.
How Much Does It Cost To Store The Body?
Concerning the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Q.E.H), if a maximum of three days pass before you select a funeral home to claim the body.
After this point, the hospital charges a fee for each day the body remains in storage. If you are too hesitant to make arrangements for a funeral, regardless of if the body remains in storage in a hospital morgue or funeral home storage area, after a time, there will be a fee.
For example, say you wait a week after the respective time. If the charge is $150 per day, that is $1050 you have to pay before even arranging a funeral. There is no time limit on storage. However, it is in your best interest to claim the body quickly.
Some funeral homes offer a service of handling all of the arrangements for the funeral. However, not every funeral home offers this service so, keep that in mind when making your selection.
The death of a loved one is an event no one should feel like they have to face alone. Do not feel ashamed to reach out for help during this process.
Feel free to reach out to friends, family, and even a psychologist.
If you lived separately from the deceased, remember to make plans for their home, valuables, mail, and documents.
This process is simple if your loved one left behind a will. However, not everyone makes plans for their mortality, which can make things complicated.
If you are unsure, a will or testament exists. Try to find out if they had a lawyer and reach out to them or ask other family members about it.
In the event, you are unsure about a will’s validity. You can contact one of Barbados’ law firms to have it probated (the process of proving the will’s validity in a court of law).
Examples of other documents you will need to get a hold of are; birth certificates, marriage or divorce papers, property deeds, vehicle documents, financial account documents, and life insurance policies.
Planning The Funeral
Ultimately, after you select a funeral home, the plan for the funeral will be made when you meet with the funeral director.
To give an idea about some arrangements you can expect. The article will depict what takes place in a hopefully familiar plan: having a viewing day followed by a contemporary Christian funeral service and burial.
The next step for the body is the process of embalmment. Blood and other fluids are drained from the body and replaced with chemicals like formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, and methanol.
Embalmment aims to delay the natural decay of the body’s cells and restore the body as close as possible original appearance.
The final product is dependent on the funeral professional’s skill and the cause of death. The deceased’s family typically provides clothes for the body, and funeral professionals have the training to dress the body appropriately.
A funeral home always transports a body in a suitable vehicle. Regardless of if a body is being moved from a morgue or to the viewing location or funeral service.
For the funeral service, decisions on things, such as coffin or casket and the funeral officiator, are made.
A coffin typically has wider shoulder narrows in towards the feet. A casket has a rectangular shape and bulkier and heavier than a coffin.
People tend to prefer the appearance of caskets though they are more expensive than coffins.
If you want to purchase a custom made casket click here.
In regards to the funeral officiator, only licensed individuals can lead the service. These people can range from lay readers to pastors. The funeral home or you will arrange factors such as the chapel, burial location, hymns, obituaries, and radio announcements.
Can I have a funeral with no money?
First of all, it is best for you and your family to have plans for your mortality, such as life insurance policies, to avoid this situation.
People often believe that a funeral must be an expensive event but, that is not the case. The ending price of a funeral is dependent upon the choices you make.
For example, you cannot expect to have a $4000 funeral after choosing a $4000 casket. If you and your family are on a tight budget, you can choose to have a more affordable service under a tent at the gravesite with a few guests, as an example.
Funeral homes will typically ask for 70-75% of the total fee for the funeral you would like to have upfront as they are providing a service.
However, depending on your situation, negotiations can be made. For example, if you and your family members are not working due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If your family has a history of working with the funeral home, that can make negotiations easier.
Must Read: Last Letters from Barbados Death Row Inmates
In regards to the burial of your loved one, there are a couple of options in Barbados. You can select cremation or burial at sea or a more traditional burial into a grave.
Interment and burial are words that are often confused. Burial is exclusively the process of placing a corpse (either whole or in pieces) into a grave.
However, interment refers to a body or even ashes in a tomb above ground or a grave. So all burials are interments. But, if you were to place an urn filled with ashes into a grave, that is an interment, not a burial.
For those curious about prone burial (burial face down in a tomb), that burial option is not a common practice in Barbados
But, discuss with the funeral home if it is something you would like.
Cremation is the final disposition of a corpse by burning it to ashes.
Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens in Christ Church holds Barbados’ sole crematorium at this moment. In Barbados, you can hold a church service before a cremation if you would like.
If you or your loved one desires to have their ashes scattered in Barbados. It can be done at Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens after the respective funeral home director obtains permission.
The best funeral arrangement is one where everyone is satisfied with the service regardless of the price.
Please have honest conversations with the funeral home of your choice to make the last memory of your loved one a beautiful one.
See our latest Barbados obituaries, click here.