• When Someone Dies


Nothing quite prepares us for the eventuality of a death in our family. We may find ourselves in a state of confusion, panic and utter helplessness. This page serves as a guide to standard procedures practices followed when a death occurs in Sri Lanka.

FAQs

  • 1. Helpful Links
  • 2. What should I do first when someone dies?

    What you must do immediately and in the first few days after someone dies depends on where the death took place.

    01. CONTACT YOUR FAMILY DOCTOR
    [a]

    Your doctor should be in a position to certify the death by issuing a Doctors certificate of death

    [b]

    If the doctor is not in a position to issue this certificate, he will have to say so. You will have to then contact /your local police, who after taking down your statement will accompany the remains to the nearest hospital.

    02. REGISTER THE DEATH

    Once the doctor has issued the doctors certificate of death you should take this to the REGISTRAR FOR DEATHS in your area. After taking down the relevant particulars (i.e. the deceased parents names place of burial or cremation etc) he will issue you with a REGISTRA'S CERTIFICATE OF DEATH also known as THE DEATH CERTIFICATE. This permits you to proceed with the Funeral arrangements.

    03. CONTACT YOUR FUNERAL DIRECTOR

    Once you have obtained the death certificate you could call your funeral director who would then remove the remains and proceed with making the arrangements for the funeral.

    01. OBTAIN THE DOCTORS CERTIFICATE OF DEATH
    [a]

    This will be issued by the doctor in charge of the ward in which the death has taken place, and could be collected from ward or the Inquiry Office of the hospital. NOTE: The deceased's name on the certificate will be as given at the point of admission to the hospital. The certificate will be handed over to the person who made the admission.

    [b]

    If the ward doctor is unable to give a cause of death i.e. if the patient died on admission, he will refer it to coroner, who, if unable to ascertain the cause of death will in turn refer it to the Judicial Medical Officer of the hospital for a post-mortem. Followed by an inquest after which the Coroner will issue an Inquirers Certificate of death form.

    02. THE INQUIRERS CERTIFICATE OF DEATH FORM
    [a]

    This form is valid for funeral arrangements to proceed.

    [b]

    In an event of a cremation it is important to inform the coroner that cremation is intended as it would have to be stated in the Inquirers Certificate of Death.

    Note  it is a CERTIFIED COPY of the REGISTRAR'S CERTIFICATE OF DEATH that will be needed for any Bank or Legal formalities. This certificate could be obtained from the Registrar's office after about one week.

    01. If unable to obtain a Doctors Certificate of Death, inform the nearest Police station and have the remains removed to the nearest Government Hospital.
    02. Formalities will follow as "WHEN DEATH OCCURS IN A GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL"
    [a]

    When registering a death It is always advisable to apply for copies of Registrars Certificate of Death as this assists in all Bank and Legal Formalities.

    [b]

    What has been stated here are general rules and regulations that exist at the moment. They are correct for the majority of cases but may vary depending on the hospital, the cause and circumstance of death.

  • 3. How can AF Raymond help?

    We understand The loss of a loved one and the funeral that follows is one of the most personal occasions a family can experience. We at AF Raymond understand this, and believe it is our duty to advice and guide you through the many decisions you would have to make during this time.

    Tailored funeral arrangements & additional services.

    Nothing is either too big or too small for us in our endeavor to carry out your every wish with regards to the funeral service. Our reputation for being able to tailor the funeral ceremony to exact needs is one of the many reasons why families have chosen us over our competitors.

    Available 24-7 365 days a year.

    Please know that we are here to serve you at your time of need. We go beyond our call of duty to guide you on ANY matter you may require at this time of need. Whether it be information on locating your Registrar's office, or any procedures which need to be followed. If it is not an area within our expertise, we will do our best to refer you to relevant experts and points of information. Contact us at any time>

    Funeral related services.

    Find a list of vendors we recommend for funeral related services you may require, such as catering, transport, accommodation etc. Find out more>

    Death of foreign nationals.

    When a loved one passes away in Sri Lanka, the best place for their final goodbye could be here or in their country of birth. With our wealth of experience over 130 years, there is almost no country we haven't dealt with before. All it takes is a phone call to start the process. Find out more>

    Obituary notices.

    Register to receive obituary notices via email or SMS. You can also look up notices listed on our site. Find out more>

    Watch funeral ceremony online.

    If you are unable to attend the funeral ceremony as you are overseas or for any other reason, you can now view the funeral webcast through our website. Find out more>

    Plan your funeral ahead of time.

    it makes good practical and financial sense. Find out more>



  • 4. Funeral Etiquette

    Adapted from www.a-to-z-of-manners-and-etiquette.com


    Only you know how much you cared for the diseased, and therefore a personal decision you should make. It could become a time for people to express their love and respect to the deceased and to get some personal closure and healing.


    Not only is it good funeral etiquette but it is common courtesy and caring to call on the bereaved to offer sympathy and help. If they are overwhelmed with grief or visitors, make it a short visit. If you know them well, take over the tea making and handling of the guests and ease the burden of having to cope with grief and visitors at the same time.



    Words from the heart are more important than anything. Think about any good memories or experiences you had with the deceased, or even write your own about the person that you know the family would like to hear. Family and loved ones usually just need to talk and express their feelings. Let them talk as much as they need without asking too many questions. They are not necessarily looking for a response from you. They are trying to understand what has happened and in their own way come to terms with the fact their loved one has gone. Just be there for them and if they are the type who usually embrace or kiss when greeting, a warm hug will be appreciated.



    It is good etiquette to phone the family as soon as possible to offer your sympathy. Try to keep the call brief as others will probably be trying to call as well. Also, the family will more than likely be busy with visitors and funeral arrangements.



    Condolences via e-mail are appropriate only if you are not a close friend or relative of the family. But generally speaking, it is not good funeral etiquette to send an email, a hand written note or card would be more appropriate.



    First check the funeral notice in the newspaper or phone the funeral home. If people request donations should be made in lieu of flowers, you should respect their wishes.
    If there are no such requests, flowers can be a great comfort to the family. If the deceased was very popular or well known, too many flowers can be overwhelming. You need to exercise your own judgment here.



    1
    Wreaths and sprays should only be sent to the funeral home and never the deceased person's home.
    2
    Placing flowers on the casket is a privilege and tradition reserved for the family of the loved one.
    3
    if sending flowers to the family home, go with an arrangement that comes with a self-contained water vessel. This will save them the hassle of fussing over and maintaining the flowers in a time of grieving where such small tasks may get overlooked.
    4
    If you are unsure about what color funeral to send, then stick with pastels, as they are a soft safe option.

    There are different protocols observed for each religion and faith. They are as follows:


    1
    It is accepted to give flowers in the following faiths: Baha'i, Buddhist, Catholic, Christian, Mormon and Eastern Orthodox. For Mormons, flowers arranged in the shape of a crucifix or a cross is not acceptable. White flowers are preferred if the religion is Eastern Orthodox.
    2
    Check with the family if the deceased is Islamic or Hindu, as there are varying practices within the religion of giving flowers..
    3
    If you are still unsure about the process associated with the deceased's family, ask the funeral home or the family's religious or cultural leader for advice. Many florists and online dealers are usually well versed in all aspects of funeral etiquette and may also be able to guide you in selecting the right arrangement.

    During the days immediately following the death the family is usually too overwhelmed to carry on the normal everyday living chores, such as cooking and cleaning. So food would be more than welcome.But, before just bringing containers of food, check with the family to see what other people are bringing. Some people also make a cash donation to families who have suffered a loss to help them cover the cost of the services.



    Immediately after the funeral, the family sometimes invites the attendees to join them for food or a reception at their home or designated place. This gives everyone a chance to talk and provides some time to relax and refresh. Attending this gathering without invitation would be considered bad etiquette. Sometimes friends or church members will take it upon themselves to prepare food ahead of time for this gathering to relieve the family of this task.



    There are no hard and fast rules in funeral etiquette that dictate whether children should or should not attend a funeral. Any form of inconsiderate or disruptive behaviour would be considered extremely bad etiquette and in poor taste. Therefore parents should keep in mind the fact that all little ones can be quite noisy and disruptive and a funeral is not the appropriate time or place for this to be happening.



    If the child was close to the deceased it is fine for the child to attend if he or she feels comfortable doing so. If the child is old enough, leave the decision up to them. However, make sure the child really understands what you are discussing and what is happening. Don't be afraid to ask questions and encourage the child to talk openly. The actual burial could be an upsetting experience for a child who has no idea what is happening or what to expect



  • 5. Cemetery Etiquette

    1. Ensure children are in their best behaviour
    2. Do your best to not walk over the graves.
    3. Follow cemetery rules.
    4. Don't litter.
    5. Don't drive on the grass.
    6. Speak softly and don't use offensive language.
    7. Don't be overly friendly when talking to strangers as they may want to be alone.
    8. Don't touch any monuments or gravestones.
    9. Don't take photos of other people or other funerals.

  • 6. Religious Customs at Funerals

    select your Religion

    What to wear

    White or pastel colours. Black is also accepted, though red and other bright colours are not acceptable.

    Cremation / Burial

    Usually cremation. Four nephews of the deceased set fire to cremate the remains.

    Gender specifics

    None

    Gathering after funeral

    Immediately after the cremation, the family sometimes invites the attendees to join them for food or a reception at their home or designated place. Attending this gathering without invitation would be considered bad etiquette.

    How to assist the bereaved

    If you know the family well, take over the tea making and handling of the guests and ease the burden of having to cope with grief and visitors at the same time. Bring food for the family of the deceased, during the days immediately following the death. Those attending the alms giving on the 8th day can contribute by way of offerings for the monks & by helping to serve food for the monks.

    How to pay respects to deceased

    Guests are expected to view the casket and bow slightly toward it.

    Timeline

    Funeral usually takes place within a week after death. Usually not held on Tuesdays or Full moon Poya days

    Handling & displaying remains

    A lamp is usually constantly lit throughout the funeral. Windows & doors are kept open throughout and the body is never left unattended. Embalming is usually performed.

    Special rituals prior to cremation/ burial

    On the 7th day after the death, a Buddhist sermon is conducted at the home of the deceased, followed by dinner for all those attending.
    On the following an alms giving is held at the same premises or at a designated temple.
    Attendance at these events is usually by invitation only.

    Other








    What to wear

    Black or somber clothes

    Cremation / Burial

    Burial

    Gender specifics

    None

    Gathering after funeral

    After the funeral and final Trisagion at the cemetery, a Meal of Mercy is prepared and offered at the Church or at a nearby restaurant for the family and friends.

    How to assist the bereaved

    None

    How to pay respects to deceased

    Calling hours at a funeral home for one to two days depending upon the circumstances are arranged to allow friends and relatives to pay respect to the departed and to console the family. Flowers may be sent to the funeral home, and/or donations made to the Church, and/or donations made in the deceased person's name to a designated charity. Out-of-town friends and relatives who are not able to attend the funeral may send flowers and/or messages.

    Timeline

    Funeral service usually in the Church three days after death.

    Handling & displaying remains

    None

    Special rituals prior to cremation/ burial

    Each day before burial the priest conducts the Trisagion Prayers of mercy at the wake.

    Other








    What to wear

    Simple, white, casual clothes. Dress down, not up

    Cremation / Burial

    Usually cremation

    Gender specifics

    None

    Gathering after funeral

    None

    How to assist the bereaved

    None

    How to pay respects to deceased

    Friends may call on the family at home where the body of the deceased is usually kept until the traditional cremation. You can also send flowers to the family or funeral home before the service — don't bring the flowers with you to the funeral. Sending food is inappropriate.
    The casket will be open, and all mourners are expected to quietly view it.

    Timeline

    Funerals are usually held within 24 hours of the death.

    Handling & displaying remains

    None

    Special rituals prior to cremation/ burial

    A priest or oldest son (or other male) of the family preside at the service. You'll hear prayers and hymns

    Other

    None