10 Steps To Bury Your Loved Ones In Jamaica
by Deon Clarke | Associate WriterStep 1 - Make Arrangements With A Funeral Home/Parlour
You would need to make arrangements with a funeral home to collect the body as it would have been stored at the Government’s morgue. To do this, you would need to get a transfer letter or approval from the hospital. Some funeral homes also assist with this part of the process. The Government morgue usually only facilitates bodies for a few days due to lack of space.
Step 2 - Get The Death Certificate From The Hospital
Next, you would get the death certificate from the hospital in order to have the death registered. Considering that the deceased would have been under treatment, the cause of death would have been noted on the death certificate so a post-mortem would not be required.
Step 3 - Register The Death And Collect Burial Order
Once you have received the death certificate, the next step would be to get the death registered at the Registrar General Department (RGD). Deaths from natural causes are required to be registered within five (5) days. You would be comforted to know that this service is now provided at the hospital as well, so you can get this done there instead of going to the RGD branch office. You would then be provided with the burial order. This request can also now be made online on the RGD’s website at: www.rgd.gov.jm. The funeral parlour and the pastor will also get a copy of the pink burial order.
On the day of the burial, the pastor will sign the burial order and return it to the family. The family can then return this to the RGD to get an official death certificate.
Step 4 - Select The Burial Spot
This can be quite a challenge now for some persons. In Jamaica, it is customary for families to bury their loved ones in approved cemeteries or family plots. However, over the past 5 years, the Government has intervened in the practice of burying in family plots, for safety reasons. As a result, family members now have to request approval from the Parish Council for family plot burials.
For burials in the approved cemeteries, you would just make the necessary arrangements with the operators and purchasing a spot. It is important to note that some Jamaicans also pre-purchase their burial spots to avoid the hassle upon death.
Step 5 - Request Approval From The Parish Council
If you are not planning to use the services of an approved cemetery such as Dovecot, Meadowrest or Oakland Memorial Gardens, but instead want to have your loved one buried at home or in the family plot, then you would have to request permission from your Parish Council. The Parish Council will need you to provide include: proof of ownership of the property and proof of paying taxes. They will then stamp an approval document for you to take to the Ministry of Health.
Family Plot Burial Requirements are as follows:
- Burial Order
- Payment Certificate form Tax Office (Not Tax Receipt)
- Proof of Ownership - Title or a letter from a Justice of the Peace certifying ownership or, a letter from the owner or person responsible granting permission for burial to take place on the property, signed by the owner or person responsible and certified by a Justice of the Peace along with a copy of the title
- It includes a fee of $2,500
Step 6 - Wait on approval from Ministry of Health
The Ministry of Health will visit the property and do the necessary checks to ensure that the burial site is not affecting waterbeds etc. Once they are satisfied, they will then grant permission for the burial to take place.
Step 7 - Select Burial Package From Funeral Home
Families want to ensure that their loved ones are sent off in style or in the best way possible, and funeral homes make sure that this happens. Family members get to choose a package that is within their budget and based on their preferences.
The basic package generally includes a casket, programmes, souvenirs. However, other options may include special hearses, limousines for family members, marching bands, music band for nine-night, tents, chairs, and even a minister to perform the ceremony. The prices could range from a minimal amount of $100,000 to an exorbitant amount of $1,000,000 or as much as the family wants to spend!
Step 7 - Get a Pastor or Minister To Perform Final Rights
If not already included in your package selection, you will need to get a pastor or minister who will be in charge of the funeral service and who is authorized to commit the body of your loved one.
Step 8 - Make Arrangements For The Funeral Service
This is the last thing that you would be doing to honour the memory of your loved one and you want to make sure that it is done right, seamlessly! Once you have confirmed the minister and the church for the service, you would be putting the program together. Clearly outline who will be doing what and when. How many lessons - who will read them? How many songs - which ones? Who will do the eulogy, the remembrance, and tributes? Who are the pall-bearers? You control the order of the service as you would like. Also, be sure to keep the pastor or minister abreast of the programme plans.
(Covid-19 restrictions on gathering limits have severely affected this event).
Step 9 - Nine-Night, Wake, or Set-Up
This is a very important part of the whole process for most Jamaicans. This is pretty much a send-off party for your loved one, usually held the night before the funeral. This is actually, the only fun part. It’s a celebration of the life that has passed, with much music (live band or music playing), food and drinks that many persons look forward to. Though some persons may forgo the music and have a silent wake, there is still a lot of meeting and greeting that takes place.
(Covid-19 restrictions on gathering limits have severely impacted this trend).
Step 10 - Collect Signed Burial Order From Pastor
On the day of the burial, the pastor will sign the burial order and return it to the family. The family can then return this to the RGD to get an official death certificate. Keep this secure.
Exceptions - What To Do If Your Loved One Dies Suddenly, Violently, At Home, Or In A Private Facility
The only part of the steps in the above process that would change would be steps 1 – 3 in some cases. The other steps would pretty much remain the same. Let’s look at some exceptions.
- If a person dies suddenly, due to violence or under the suspicion of foul-play, a postmortem would be requested by the police to determine the cause of death. This also could take some time depending on the availability of the Government pathologist and investigating officer. As a result, this could delay the burial of your loved one. These delays could be as much as 3 months.
- If your loved one died at home or a private facility but had made regular visits to the doctor and within three months to the time of death, then you would need to call the police to report the death, along with the relevant authorities would confirm the death. This could be classified as a natural death so, you would just need to get a death certificate from the attending doctor to take to the RGD office for the registration.
- If your loved one died at home or a private facility but had not visited the doctor in more than 3 months, then a postmortem, would be required by the police. You would also need to call the police to report the death.
- Under post mortem circumstances, the police will provide you with a burial order before registration so you can bury your loved one. Bear in mind that this is not proof of death registration or a death certificate. You would have to request a certificate of coroner from the police to register the death at RGD.
I’m sure by now you have a pretty good idea of how to better handle this inevitable situation when it arrives with these 10 steps in place. You will be happy to know that you did your best to make sure your loved one rests in eternal peace by getting it right!
I also recommend you read Jamaican Nine-Nights/Wakes.
- Obtaining a Death Certificate, Jamaica Information Service, https://jis.gov.jm/information/faqs/obtaining-a-death-certificate/
- Registrar General’s Department, https://rgd.gov.jm/images/Publication/Death.pdf
- RGD Launches Electronic Burial Order System, Jamaica Information Service https://jis.gov.jm/rgd-launches-electronic-burial-order-system/
- Burial and Cemetery Fee, St. Ann Municipal Corporation, https://stannmc.gov.jm/licensing-fees/burial-and-cemetery-fee
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