Taking care of business when a loved one passes away


Planning a funeral could be seen as a way to celebrate the life of the person who's passed on, but it can also add strain to an already emotional and stressful time. Here are some guidelines on what to do when a loved one passes away.

One of the saddest events in life is the passing of a loved one. When you hear about the passing of a loved one, you will probably experience shock - whether the death was expected or not. Not only is it difficult to think clearly, but you might also be tired, so if you have to travel immediately to identify the body, rather ask someone to take you.

Here are some more tips on how to handle the practical arrangements.

Rely on your friends and family

There will be things to take care of at home during this busy period, so use the support system you have. Now is the time to accept any offers of help from your community to manage the household if you need to be away.

You will have to start letting people know about the loved one's passing. If you're not able to do this yourself, this is another task your friends or relatives can support you with.

Identifying the deceased, getting a death certificate and moving the body

Anyone who knew the person who passed away can identify the body. They just need to take their own identity document and the identity document of the deceased person to the mortuary. Here are four scenarios that could occur:

    • Dying of a natural cause in hospital. A doctor has to issue a death certificate. If the hospital doesn't have a mortuary, you will have to contact an undertaker or funeral home immediately to collect the person's body. State hospitals usually have mortuaries. If the person has passed away at a state hospital, the body stays there until a doctor issues a death certificate.
    • Dying of an unnatural cause in hospital. The deceased person's body will be transferred to a state mortuary for a post-mortem (autopsy), and the state mortuary will issue a death certificate.
    • Dying of a natural cause at home. First contact a doctor. If they are able to issue a death certificate, you can contact a funeral home to transport the person's body to a mortuary. If the doctor is not willing to issue the death certificate, the funeral home will arrange for a private post-mortem to establish the cause of person's death. The doctor who performs the post-mortem will then issue the death certificate.
      If the deceased person is to be cremated, a second doctor has to do a post-mortem to confirm that the body may be cremated. Both doctors must sign cremation forms. These forms have to be handed in at the crematorium before the cremation may take place.
    • Dying of an unnatural cause at home. Contact the police immediately. The police will have the body transported to a state mortuary and a compulsory post-mortem will be done before a death certificate is issued.

Check if the deceased is an organ donor

If the deceased is an organ donor, their organs must be removed as soon as possible after brain death has been declared to ensure the organs can be transplanted successfully. According to law, two independent doctors have to certify brain death. As soon as the donated organs or tissue has been removed, the body is returned to the family to bury or cremate.

Planning the funeral

All funeral decisions should be made according to the deceased person's will. Where the person did not specify a preference, communicate as a family and discuss the options available with the funeral director. Their experience and knowledge in handling all affairs surrounding a burial or cremation can make the process much easier for you and your family. You will have to give the funeral home the following:

    • A copy of the person's identity document.
    • If the person who has passed away is covered by a funeral policy, you need to give evidence of this. Having a funeral plan can make this process much easier and faster.
    • The clothes in which the deceased person is to be dressed.
    • A marriage certificate, if applicable.
    • A photograph of the deceased, if they need one for the funeral programme.

Protect your loved ones with a life plan and funeral cover

One of the most thoughtful acts is to make sure the people you leave behind when you die aren't left with the burden of having to pay for your funeral while grieving your death. A funeral plan can provide for all the costs associated with a funeral, and more.

Aside from making provision for the costs of a funeral, another way to honour your loved ones is to protect their lifestyle when you're no longer around. Speak to a financial adviser about how you can help cover all possible life-changing events, including death, disability, severe illness and unexpected loss of income.

This article is meant for information purposes only and should not be taken as financial advice. For tailored financial advice, please contact your financial adviser. Terms, conditions and product rules apply. Discovery Life Limited: Registration number 1966/003901/06, is a registered long-term insurer, and an authorised financial services and registered credit provider, NCR Reg No. NCRCP3555.



Discovery Life offers affordable funeral cover from as little as R53 a month

The passing of a loved one is never easy, but you can ease the financial burden during this difficult time with a Funeral Plan from Discovery Life. The Discovery Life Funeral Plan offers you and your family funeral cover with a lump-sum payout, as well as additional benefits.

Read 10 reasons why you should consider funeral cover from Discovery Life, and call us on 0860 00 54 33 for more information or a funeral cover quote.

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