‘Practically, how do I deal with the dead body at home?’ This question came to me from the son of a patient whose home we were visiting. The patient, an elderly gentleman, was terminally ill, and we were there to offer the patient, and the family, palliative care, in which one of the services is to plan for a good death. Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult and is an inevitable one in our lives.
The first thing you need to do is to get a doctor to confirm the death. It would be a good idea to find this doctor beforehand to inform about the patient at home. Request the doctor to provide you with a written record of the time and date of death on their official letterhead. Next on the list will be to decide whether you are going to move the body right away or you need to wait for relatives’ arrival.
You will need to contact the nearest cremation or burial ground as per your religious beliefs. Call the facility beforehand so the arrangements can be made.
Carry an identity proof of the deceased and the doctor’s death declaration with you. At the end of the funeral service, collect a receipt of cremation or burial. This receipt, along with the doctor’s declaration, and a copy of the identity proof of the deceased need to be submitted to the registrar of births and deaths at the nearest Municipal Corporation office, within a month of the death.
— The author is a palliative care physician working with the Pain Relief and Palliative Care Society in Hyderabad