Nobody likes to talk about death, to think about the worst, but knowing the process and the options for funeral repatriation services will make everything easier if somebody you love while you are living in Singapore has to take that final journey home.
You’re waiting for your husband at a restaurant. He’s running late. You try calling him. No answer. More time goes by and he’s still not there. You start to worry. Finally, the phone rings and your worst fears have come true. He’s been killed in a car accident. What do you do? What happens to dead people here?
Most expats living in Singapore want to bring their loved one back to their home country and, thankfully, there are companies in Singapore that will handle all the details for you. Flying Home is a part of the Ang Chin Moh Group, which has been in the funeral business in Singapore since 1912. It’s now one of the largest funeral companies in the country, and it specialises in repatriation. With a Canadian expat as the CEO, Flying Home is well-versed in handling arrangements from all countries and all religions.
If you are with somebody when they die, immediately call 995 for an ambulance. If it’s an unnatural death such as an accident, the police must also be notified. The deceased is then taken to the hospital where a doctor will certify the death. However, it is the police, not the hospital, that issues the all-important death certificate. The deceased is then released to the funeral home.
Families must then decide what they want to do with the loved one. A funeral and local burial can be arranged. However, it’s important to know that graves in Singapore are primarily owned by the government and have only a 15-year lease. When the lease runs out, the deceased is then exhumed and cremated.
The least expensive and easiest option is immediate cremation. In fact, 70 percent of locals in Singapore are cremated and placed in a columbarium. Expats can also choose to place ashes here, release them at sea or fly them home. Ashes can be hand-carried on the plane in a light-weight, eggshaped carrier along with the appropriate paperwork. If the person dies in Singapore without loved ones, a courier can be arranged.
However, most expat families want to repatriate their loved one. There are a variety of coffins from which to choose including a wicker coffin that breaks down with time. Some choose to upgrade the coffin when it arrives at its final destination.
An embalmed body can be well preserved for a couple of weeks so families have time to properly prepare for the funeral once the deceased arrives home.
As you can imagine, the paperwork and travel details can be complicated, but not to worry: Flying Home takes care of all the necessary permits for the loved one to repatriate. In rare cases, the embassy will request a family member to appear. The company also handles all the travel arrangements, including coordinating with a funeral home at the destination. A memorial service can also be organised here in Singapore before the loved one returns home.
A cremation in a government-run crematorium costs $100 so bringing back ashes is inexpensive. Repatriating a loved one who has passed generally starts at $6,000 and can go as high as $20,000 depending on the final destination. If the deceased is going to a hard-to-reach place that takes several connections, the price is obviously higher.
Visit flyinghome.com for more information.
For more helpful tips head to our Living in Singapore section.
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This article first appeared in the June 2018 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!