Death and funerals are things that we never want to discuss, however inevitable they may be. Yet, there will come a time when we have to bid farewell to our loved ones. As painful as those moments are, we still desire to come together and give the departed a fitting sendoff and — if you’re a believer of life after death — a seamless transition into the afterlife. With emotions running high, however, planning a funeral can prove challenging, so here’s a simple guide on the different things that you’ll need to sort out with the help of funeral services in Singapore to ensure a smooth process from start to finish.
Obtaining a Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD)
The most important piece of document that you’ll require is the Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD). There are several ways to obtain this based on where the death took place.
If the death took place at a hospital, you will only need the deceased’s ID to receive the CCOD. However, if doctors are unable to determine the cause of death, you will need to arrange for the deceased to be transported to the mortuary — either via a Police Hearse or through a funeral home — for an autopsy.
If the death took place at home, call your local GP to have the cause of death determined. And if they are not able to, the body has to be sent to the mortuary as well.
However, if the death took place abroad, the process is slightly longer. You will need to register the death with the relevant authorities in that country and then choose where the funeral will be held. If you wish to have it in Singapore, you’ll also need to liaise with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to pick reliable undertakers who will then work with funeral services in Singapore to repatriate the body.
Contacting a Funeral Director
After the formalities have been completed, engage a funeral director who will then oversee the entirety of the deceased’s funeral, including body preparation, visitation, the actual funeral service, and burial/cremation. They will also provide timely care and support for families and friends of the deceased. As these funeral services in Singapore can sometimes be a little costly, consider affordable options, like Nirvana Singapore. It offers the complete package without having to pay a premium, which helps ease financial concerns during an already difficult period.
Registering the Death
Registering the deceased’s death is relatively straightforward and easy to do, and it doesn’t cost a cent. You will require the deceased’s CCOD, their ID, as well as your ID. Then, proceed to any neighbourhood police centre or the Citizen Services Centre located inside the ICA building to begin the registration process.
Determining the Arrangements of the Funeral
Before deciding on anything, first check if the deceased has left any wishes in the will indicating the preferred type of funeral services that they wish to have. Some have already done pre-planning and have pre-purchased a funeral package. If that is the case, all you need to do is to contact us and we will be there to take over the entire process.
There are a few things you need to discuss with your funeral director:
Duration of Wake
Funerals in Singapore are held for an odd-number of days, 3 or 5 days on average. There are also 7-day funerals which are commonly held for families with relatives who are overseas and wish to make a trip back to pay their final respects. In that case, the funeral will be extended longer to accommodate that. In light of the pandemic, many families have chosen to hold quick funerals that last less than a week.
Location of Wake
Another factor to consider would be the location of the wake, how much privacy you wish to afford friends and family, or how high- or low- profile the wake should be. In general, people would hold the wake near the deceased’s home, which can be at the void deck of a HDB flat or at open spaces. Wakes that are held in void decks or a stretch of road outside a landed property require permission from the Town Council and the Traffic Police respectively. For those who do not have such options, the wake can also be held at a funeral parlour.
A funeral director from a funeral service in Singapore can help arrange this.
The religious preference of the funeral will follow that of the deceased.
Deciding between Cremation or Burial
Given Singapore’s scarce land, 80% of families will opt for cremation rather than burial, although the latter is certainly not yet obsolete. There are 3 crematoriums in Singapore at present:
1. Mandai Crematorium
2. Bright Hill Crematorium
3. Tse Tho Aum Crematorium
Most of the cremations take place at Mandai Crematorium.
The only cemetery in Singapore still open for burials is the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery. Under the nation’s regulation, all land burials will have to be exhumed after 15 years. Hence this is an option that not many are choosing now.
Managing the deceased’s ashes
There are 4 ways to manage the deceased’s ashes:
1. Placing it at home
As the ashes represent one of the spirits of the deceased, having it placed at home signifies the dead still “living” with us in the same space. While this may be preferred by some since this allows the living to still feel the “presence” of their deceased loved ones at home, it might not be the best arrangement for the spirit. As the spirit is constantly reminded of their living loved ones at home, they will have a more difficult time accepting the fact they have passed on.
2. Inland Ash Scattering
The Garden of Peace @ CCK, situated at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex, is an option for management of cremation remains in Singapore. Owned by the National Environment Agency (NEA), it started operations in May 2021. Families of the deceased can now choose to scatter the ashes of their deceased loved ones at designated ash scattering lanes designed to percolate into the soil. To preserve the serenity of the garden, no religious rites or prayers are allowed within the premises.
3. Sea Burial
Choosing to go with sea burial will require a boat to be arranged to bring the family of the deceased out to sea where the ashes will be released. Similar to inland ash scattering, choosing to have a sea burial will mean that the cremated remains will never be recoverable. Hence, it is important to think this through as some families who chose these options regretted it after some time and had to request to set up an ancestral tablet to make up for it.
4. Placing it in a Columbarium
- There are government managed columbaria (Mandai Columbarium and Choa Chu Kang Columbarium) and private columbariums (eg: Nirvana Memorial Garden, Lin San Temple, Bright Hill and other temples). Majority chooses this option as it allows them to visit their deceased loved ones for prayer services or on anniversary days.
With Nirvana Singapore Funeral, our columbarium niche offers a secure and conducive resting place for the deceased with regular maintenance of the premises and the niche tablets.
Arranging a 49-day Prayer Service
For Buddhist and Taoist households, one of the spirits will be invited to reside in the urn after the cremation ceremony. To ease the “moving in process”, a prayer service has to be done daily for 49 days (or 100 days if resources permit). Due to the busy schedule of many Singaporeans, many are choosing to let Nirvana Singapore or temples to have this taken care of. Having dedicated and professional staff to arrange this daily, family members are only required to be present for the prayers on the 1st seven days, 3rd seven days (21st day), 5th seven days (35th day), 7th seven days (49th day) and the 100th day after the passing of the loved one.
Bone Picking Ceremony
If the cremation is scheduled before noon, the bone picking ceremony can commence after 14:00 hrs on the same day. If the cremation takes place after noon, the family can only start the bone picking ceremony the next day. Our Nirvana columbarium niche packages will include a professional turning up at the crematorium. The remains will be hand picked by the professional and carefully placed in the urn. Transport will be arranged for the family members and the urn to Nirvana Memorial Garden for the Departure Ceremony (Sheng Tian Ceremony) which will transport the spirit in the remains to Heaven. This ceremony is exclusively available at Nirvana Singapore to let the family members to feel at ease knowing their deceased loved one has moved on to a better place. After which, we will invite the spirit to enter the niche with a Check-In Ceremony (Ru Ta Ceremony).
Getting an Ancestral Tablet
At the end of the 49 or 100-day prayers, we will officially invite the spirit into the ancestral tablet with a Removal Ceremony (Cai Lin Ceremony). If you come from a Buddhist or Taoist household, getting an ancestral tablet in Singapore for the deceased is an important component in honouring and housing their spirits, as well as being a focal point for ancestral worship. You can either place those tablets at home, or at a columbarium in Singapore. The latter could prove to be more ideal without space constraints and with the assurance of round-the-clock upkeep.
Funerals are a time of bereavement and mourning, so let our team at Nirvana Singapore take care of your needs as well as those of the dearly departed, before, during, and after the funeral. For more information about the services that we offer, please visit our website.