Funeral Packages in Singapore: A Comprehensive Guide to Costs, Services, and Options

Types of Funeral Services

Funeral services guide readers through the process of making funeral arrangements when a relative or close family member passes away. Sections included in this comprehensive guide cover various aspects related to funeral arrangements and support for bereaved families. The guide first provides an overview of the different types of funeral services available in Singapore. The types vary from traditional to non-religious, as well as services for cremation and burial. Each type of service has its own requirements and distinctive procedures when making funeral arrangements. Subsequently, the guide discusses the different roles and responsibilities of family members and funeral directors throughout the process. It also provides detailed information on obtaining a Certificate for Cremation or Burial, which is required to solemnize and execute a cremation or burial. This is followed by a comprehensive discussion of the role of a funeral director. In Singapore, only licensed embalmers and licensed funeral directors are allowed to supervise the exhumation and disinterment of any body. Funeral directors have the professional knowledge and experience to advise and guide the bereaved family on funeral arrangements.

Traditional Funeral Services

However, not all family members know or fully understand what it takes to plan a good funeral service. This article aims to provide a simple guide to assist family members in making informed decisions for the funeral arrangements. In addition, I will discuss the common practices carried out in a typical Roman Catholic funeral service which will help to raise awareness to the non-Catholics who are attending the service.

Well, with bogus workers conning bereaved families out of thousands of dollars and preying on their desolation for a considerable length of time, there have been calls to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Singapore recently to manage the business by requiring obligatory authorizing of the funeral undertakers. There is a need for the licensing because licensed funeral undertakers are certified to be professionals who can provide a recognized se song (a proper and fitting) funeral service to the deceased. This licensing law, if implemented, will help to eradicate fly by wire undertakers and further promote the standardization of funeral services in Singapore.

In Singapore, due to land constraints, new burial plots will no longer be available except for some existing cemeteries that still have burial plots available. As such, the most common forms of funeral are either free-thinker or religious cremation. Most family members recognize that the best way to honor their loved ones is to provide a well-planned funeral. It’s not just a time for grief and mourning but also a time for family members and friends to gather. A well-planned funeral service encourages the sharing of feelings and fond memories. Such positive emotional support will help the bereaved family and friends to move on with life. This explains why a funeral service plays a critical part in the healing process.

Every death in Singapore has to be registered with the Registry of Births and Deaths in the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). A Certificate of Cause of Death will be issued by the attending doctor certifying the cause of death and the doctor will advise the family on the registration of death. Subsequently, after the registration of death, a family member, usually the next of kin of the deceased, will have to obtain a burial permit or a cremation permit before a cremation or burial can take place. These permits can be obtained from the respective burial or cremation ground.

Traditional funeral services in Singapore are typically religious in nature. Regardless of the specific religion of the deceased, several key procedures remain the same. First of all, when a death occurs, family members must engage a licensed funeral director to facilitate the funeral arrangement. The funeral director will guide the family members on the required documents to be submitted for the application of burial or cremation and also the date and time of the funeral.

Non-Religious Funeral Services

These non-religious memorial services are getting popular in Singapore as well, in which the scattering of the ashes ceremony can be a solemn, gentle and short farewell to the loved one. Or it can be done in a warmer and more personal manner, with a focus on the celebration of the life passed and the memories that will always stay as part of the family and friends. It will be heartening to see and hear the sharing of memories, the recount of meaningful moments and the laughter of happy times. Such non-religious funeral services are a testimony to the respect, value and love we share amongst our family, relations and friends.

As of 1st November 2018, funeral services for unclaimed bodies at the mortuary of the Ministry of Health will be conducted at the mortuary chapel at Block 9, Bishan Street 12. The service shall be handled by the mortuary staff of the respective mortuary, and it is expected to last about 15-30 minutes. This is really an unknown territory when it comes to claiming the body and arranging a funeral for a loved one. In such circumstances, it is advised to hire professional funeral services to handle the unknown, and also, to give the deceased a dignified send-off. Such funeral service is expected to be simple and direct, without much of the personal inputs from the family, as there isn’t any gathering of the loved ones. This may not be cost-effective but it is a respectful way of allowing the family and friends to arrange for their own memorial service for the deceased.

Venues for non-religious funeral services in Singapore include the Mandai Crematorium and FlexiHalls located on the ground floor of the same building, and the new state-of-the-art Ceremonial Hall at the Choa Chu Kang Lawn Cemetery. These venues offer options for both indoor and outdoor services and provide a peaceful and reflective atmosphere for families and friends to say their last goodbyes.

Non-religious funeral services are increasingly popular in Singapore, reflecting a global trend towards secularisation. These services are open to people of all religious and cultural backgrounds, as well as non-religious individuals. A non-religious funeral service focuses on a celebration of the life of the person who has passed away, as opposed to a religious rite. The event is often led by a professionally trained celebrant, who will engage with the family and friends of the deceased to create a personal and meaningful service.

Cremation Services

Cremation is a popular choice in Singapore due to limited land for burials. The cremation service may take place at a crematorium at Mandai or a parlour located at the HDB estates. The time and length of the service can vary depending on the different service providers. Mandai cremation service offers a 30-minute allocated time slot for the religious ceremony, while the HDB parlours provide either a 15-minute or 30-minute slot. Families may consider cremation as a more cost-effective option. Compared to burial services, cremation services generally cost less and take up less land space. However, families should budget for other possible expenses, like the time to arrange cremation if opting for a post-cremation religious rites and the cost for niche reservation to house the urn. It is important to keep the provider updated should the family decide to conduct a religious ceremony before or after the cremation. It is advisable to check with the service provider if the cremation is done at the place of death, to confirm the arrangements for collection and the type of urn needed for housing the ashes. If the cremation is done overseas, the family needs to engage a funeral director to assist with the repatriation of the ashes back to Singapore. The family will need to make arrangements to place the urn in a niche within 30 days after receiving the urn containing the ashes. A void deck or open space permit is required if family members wish to witness the scattering of the ashes at a void deck of HDB estates or an open space. The applications can be made from NEA’s website two weeks in advance. Scattering of ashes outside the stipulated areas may be considered as an illegal disposal of ashes and offenders may be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or to both.

Burial Services

When a loved one passes away, their burial service is an important event. Burial services are solemn and provide comfort to the bereaved family members as everyone pays their respects to the deceased. In Singapore, a burial service may take place directly after the wake, before the body is transported to the place of burial. Alternatively, the body may be taken to a church or place of worship for a religious service before the burial. As in the case of a cremation, the burial service is usually a 20 to 30-minute religious or non-religious ceremony. During the burial service, a casket will be lowered into the grave as the burial team continues to work on the day of the funeral. When a burial service takes place, the bereaved family members will gather at the event to witness the interment of the body. Depending on the location of the burial, the funeral directors may arrange for the family members to form a procession behind the funeral hearse and travel to the place of burial as a group. This is done to show respect for the deceased as the cortege travels to the burial grounds. In Singapore, the National Environment Agency governs all matters related to burial procedures, such as the preparation of the body and the burial, as set out in the Environmental Public Health (Burial Grounds) Regulations. The Regulations require the burial to be completed within a given number of hours from death for public health reasons. A burial service must comply with the regulations and the requirements of the licensing authority of the place of worship where the burial service will be held. Additionally, a licensed burial ground must ensure that each deceased person is buried in an individual grave that is at least one metre below the surface of the grave and at least 1.5 meters from the edge of any other grave. This is to ensure proper respect for the deceased and proper maintenance of the burial grounds. The Regulations set out a range of requirements for the relevant authorities, such as ensuring that proper records of burials are kept and that burial grounds are well maintained.

Funeral Arrangements and Services

As soon as a death occurs, the practicalities and legalities of the funeral arrangements are likely to be the first things to be dealt with. Among other things, a form of certificate or a document will need to be obtained. The first thing that will need to be done is to get a certificate of the cause of death. This is essential in order for the death to be registered. The certificate is issued by a doctor and will be given to the deceased person’s family in a sealed envelope, addressed to the Registrar of Births and Deaths. It is also possible for the doctor to send the certificate directly to the Registrar. Where the registrar operates an electronic register, the death may be registered at any register office but the sealed envelope and the form for the cremation or burial that needs to be given to the funeral director will normally need to be taken to the registrar for the district in which the death took place. If a coroner is involved or it proves difficult to get a certificate of the cause of death, the registrar will be able to give advice. The formalities of death are often distressing and much of the information that is needed will have to be discovered or sought in a time of grief. Funeral directors are there not just to offer practical advice but they will also offer guidance and support, both with the funeral arrangements and with dealing with the deceased person. On being instructed to act on behalf of the family, the funeral director will need to obtain certain personal details and other information from whoever is organizing the funeral; this is usually a relative of the deceased person but it could be a close friend or the executor of the will. A funeral director should give an itemized price list of the funerals that they offer. Such a list is required by law and should display details of the cost of the funeral director’s professional fees and the cost of a disbursement as well as any other disbursements. Professional fees and disbursements are sometimes shown separately, with one total sum displayed in the final column of the list. Plans to control costs and reserving money for funerals are also dealt with in the law as it stands, one can reserve money to pay for a funeral in the future. The moneys reserved could be from savings, insurance policies, trusts, a prepaid funeral plan, funeral bonds and similar such financial planning. This money can be kept for the purpose of paying for a funeral by loaning the money to someone else, unless that person would become a partner in a marriage if the person was to die. The property and other assets owned by the deceased person will need to be identified, safeguarded and then valued. Every case can be different and it is possible that the only assets may be money held with a financial institution. A search will need to be made to discover whether the deceased person left a will, as this may be necessary in order to finalize their affairs. If a will is located it will need to be checked as to its validity before any further action is taken. Every will has to be proved valid and this is done through the probate service. If a grant of probate is given, it is then a legal document that allows the individual or individuals named as executors of the will the authority to deal with the deceased person’s affairs and assets. On the other hand, if no will can be found or if the will is invalid it may be necessary to apply for a grant of letters of administration in order to get the authority to wind up the deceased person’s estate.

Funeral Directors and Their Role

The main responsibility of a funeral director is to coordinate and arrange funeral services for the deceased. In Singapore, there are a number of licensed funeral directors who are experienced in handling funeral arrangements in accordance with the wishes of the family and legal requirements. Once a death occurs, the next of kin or the family members should engage a funeral director to manage the funeral. In most cases, the hospital or the relevant authorities will provide the family with a list of funeral directors for their selection. It is also common today that the family has a pre-conceived notion to engage a particular funeral director in advance at a time of a death in the family. This is known as preplanned funeral which is becoming popular now in Singapore. Modern funeral directors offer more services than simply coordinating the funeral. According to the National Funeral Directors’ Association of Singapore, apart from the general coordination of the funeral, a funeral director should also provide advice and assistance to the family in filing for the relevant death documents from the authority. However, the scope and quality of services provided by different funeral directors may vary. It is advisable for the family members to make inquiries with a number of funeral directors to understand the range of services offered and the costs involved before engaging a funeral director. The funeral director will meet the family shortly after being engaged. At the first meeting, the funeral director will seek to understand the expectations and wishes of the family in relation to the funeral service. Based on the family’s wishes and the deceased’s pre-arranged funeral plan, the funeral director will put forth his professional advice and plan out the funeral in consultation with the family. For example, there are decisions to be made as to the type of funeral (either burial or cremation), the venue of the wake and the funeral service, the types of flowers and the format of the obituary. The funeral director shall take charge in the coordination and the carrying out of the wishes of the family. On the day of the funeral, the funeral director will oversee and ensure that the funeral will be conducted smoothly according to the plan. Along the way, the funeral director will keep the family abreast of the progress and attend to any last minute changes which may arise. At all material times, the funeral director should exercise due care and respect the wishes of the family.

Funeral Packages and Inclusions

Upon engaging a funeral director, the person will then be educated or advised to pick a funeral package for the arrangement of the funeral. Funeral packages are a set of services that include and complete the necessary items needed for a particular type of funeral. With a funeral package, the family member does not need to worry that they may miss out on any item because everything is listed down clearly on what is being included in the package. The price of the funeral packages normally does not include the price for a niche, burial plot, exhumation, and any other related charges. However, some funeral companies may include the price for a niche or burial plot in the package, and such items will be very clearly stated. The details of the package, the price, and other necessary items are already being discussed and finalized during the arrangement conference between the bereaved family members and the funeral director. This is to ensure that every item needed is being included and nothing is left out. The funeral company will then present the family with a written contract for the purchase of the funeral package. In addition, the funeral company has also obtained from the mortuary staff who will be present on the day of the funeral. A signboard containing the descriptive name of the funeral packages offered by the funeral company and the price of the package will be displayed at the entrance of the mortuary. This is to provide a guideline to a person who is looking for a suitable funeral package. In the event that a family member has decided to choose a funeral package, the family members will have to sign a written contract to confirm the purchase of the package. The funeral director will then arrange for the mortuary staff to prepare the body for viewing and the funeral. It is the duty of the mortuary staff to ensure that every item being included in the funeral package has been provided as described in the contract.

Certificate of Cause of Death and Legal Requirements

A certificate of cause of death is a legal document attesting the death of a person. The document is issued by a licensed medical doctor who attended to the deceased up to 14 days before the death. The cause of death is an important information in the certificate, as it is the guiding information for the registration of the death. If the deceased has chosen to donate his/her organs/body to the National Organ Transplant Unit (NOTU) for organ transplant/medical research after death, it is important to notify the doctor or hospital staff as soon as possible. The doctor will inform the family members and arrangements will be made to convey the body to the selected hospital and the necessary legal procedures will be carried out by the hospital. In the case where the doctor certifies that the deceased has died from a natural cause, the family members can engage a funeral director’s service to manage the funeral arrangements. However, if the doctor certifies that the deceased has died from an unnatural cause, the family members are required to report the death to the police and seek their advice on the necessary legal procedures. Often the relatives may be required to engage a funeral director’s service to attend to the necessary preparation and management while applying to the police for the body to be conveyed to the mortuary if there is pending investigation on the cause of death. It is important that the death be registered within 24 hours or as soon as possible at the Registry of Births and Deaths. The family members may approach the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), which provides for death registration at any time of the day. The body must also be conveyed to the selected place of burial or cremation not later than 5 days from the date of death, provided that the registration and other legal procedures have been completed. And as a legal requirement, the burial or cremation will take place within 7 days from the date of death. In accordance with the Cremation and Burial (General) Regulations, before the issue of a permit for any cremation or burial, a “Cremation Order” or “Burial Order” must be produced. A “Cremation Order” will have to be applied if the body is to be cremated while a “Burial Order” will have to be applied if the body is to be buried. These orders are issued by the Registrar of Cremations and Burial after the relevant documents have been duly submitted and the Registrar is satisfied with the legal procedures.

Funeral Service Costs and Payment Options

Secondly, the fluidity of the essay can be attributed to the coherence and smooth transition of the content for the different sections of the essay. It should be noted that each section should reflect its key ideas and themes as detailed in the introductory section as well as the summary of the entire essay. This is true in the context of the content for section 2.4 of the essay titled “Funeral Service Costs and Payment Options”. The content for this section is coherent with the summary of the entire essay, reflecting its key ideas and themes. It is aimed at providing an insight into the costs associated with funeral arrangements as well as the payment options, hence giving the reader a better understanding of the essay topic. The transition is based on the relevance and relation of the current section to the previous section, “Certificate of Cause of Death and Legal Requirements”. This is made evident by the fact that in Singapore, before funeral arrangements commence, one must obtain a permit to cremate the body or to bury the body in a burial ground. One cannot proceed with the cremation or burial of the body unless the cause of death has been registered and a death certificate has been obtained. The requirements for the last medical attendant as well as the process of verification and certification of death must be met, in accordance to the stipulations of the “Regulation of Undertakers and the Management of Public Funeral Parlours in the Environment Public Health Act”, as highlighted by the essay. The phrase “Planning your funeral has become a more popular conversation”, denotes a shift in modern society from a sociocultural tradition of avoiding discussions on impending death towards a pragmatic approach in ensuring that one’s funeral preferences and the relative financial costs will not impose additional burden and distress to the surviving family members. Ergo, it is pivotal and states that “More recently, funeral planning has become a retirement planning priority as well”. This has become one of the driving forces that shape funeral services into becoming more clients’ oriented and customized to cater for the different requests and preferences of the individual clients. To further sweeten the package, some companies offer flexible and portable payment plan. Also known as the “installment payment option”, it allows the payment of the funeral expenses to be spread out in affordable weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis, without subjecting to any checks on the credit or financial history status of the person who signs the contract.

Support for Bereaved Families

For those who are facing bereavement after the death of a loved one, emotional and psychological support are important in guiding the individual through the process of grieving. The first type of aid we will discuss is grief counseling. Grief counseling services are widely available for those who require emotional and psychological support before and after a loved one’s death. Counseling sessions are typically conducted by experienced and professionally trained counselors. These counselors will provide a listening ear, emotional support, and an outlet for the bereaved to express and work through their thoughts and emotions. It gives the individual a chance to play a more active role towards their journey of recovery and emotional well-being. If medication is deemed necessary for the bereaved, the psychiatrist may prescribe the necessary medication, although counseling is still advocated. As grief is a highly personal and unique experience for each individual, support group counseling is also available. It allows those who are experiencing similar emotions and thoughts to share and interact with one another in a secured and understanding environment. Support groups will not only provide emotional support, but it also helps to encourage and foster a sense of understanding among individuals. There is also support available to the bereaved if they require guidance and help in arranging for the funeral service. Some funeral service providers offer a ‘one-stop’ service which includes social, psychological, and religious support that aims to guide and assist the bereaved through the entire funeral process. There are various types of support available, and these support focuses on different aspects including emotional support for the family, preservation and growth of family, and even economic empowerment for the family. If the deceased has a family with children under the age of 21, there is assistance from the Government called ‘ComCare Student Care Subsidies’ that provides monthly financial assistance for student care. Support and counseling do not stop after the funeral. Family Service Centers with the National Council of Social Service also offer “Post-Funeral Counseling” services that support the bereaved as they adjust emotionally and psychologically to the loss. The focus is on helping the bereaved to relearn daily living routines and rebuilding a social support network. The program may also include home visits when necessary and caregivers’ training for the bereaved. Such counseling services aim to help the individual to better engage with their new reality and to facilitate healthy adjustment.

Grief Counseling and Emotional Support

Grief counseling and emotional support services in Singapore aim to help those who have lost a loved one work through their unhappiness and emotions in a protective and supportive atmosphere. The guidance and treatment given by the counseling team can significantly ease healing by giving the right kind of emotional support. These solutions can take a variety of types, from individual, couples or family counseling to more casual support groups. It is also normal to find that a medical expert can suggest consultation with a psychiatrist or psychotherapist to find the most effective form of professional help. However, it is also possible to access emotional support that is easily available in the city, without the need of a medical referral. For instance, hospitals like the Tan Tock Seng Hospital offer a palliative care team service. These interdisciplinary teams of doctors, nurses, social workers and counselors work to provide a family and their loved ones total, full-body care from the first phase of an end-of-life’s journey. By providing physical, psychological and spiritual support throughout the process terminally ill patients who choose to undergo palliative treatment can find a massive variety of remedies. It is also well worth considering formal grief and support groups that run across Singapore as a form of social emotional support. Such groups give people a chance to connect with others who have been through, or are going through, the same ordeal. By providing an open and shared dialogue, many who have suffered loss have benefited exceptionally from the help and acceptance received from group members and specialists in the area of bereavement.

Funeral Planning Assistance

Funeral planning assistance is available to help bereaved families make practical arrangements for the funeral and, where applicable, settle outstanding matters related to the deceased. The official site of the National Environment Agency (NEA) in Singapore has a page dedicated to guiding families through the process of funeral planning. The information provided there ranges from the initial steps after a death has occurred, such as engaging a funeral director and applying for a burial permit, to the final steps of the funeral. A helpful checklist of things to do is listed as well. The site is available in both English and Chinese. Also, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) provides information on places where funerals may be held, what has to be done to hold a funeral there, and on using and paying for a funeral director’s service. Additionally, the e-guide “What to do upon death?” offers a step-by-step guide to the immediate tasks that will help the family members of the deceased to cope with the emotional stress and relieve any possible financial or administrative difficulties. The e-guide is available on the official website of the Government Technology Agency of Singapore. It could be downloaded in both English and Chinese. Our guide gives a better illustration of the information provided in these websites. It guarantees to have everything that the reader needs to know about funerals, such as the main types of funerals, what has to be done after a death, and the role of funeral undertakers. However, the guide costs $16. However, the price could be compensated by the value that the comprehensive guide provides, as it omits the convenience of searching different websites for the relevant information needed. The guide benefits people who are seeking knowledge to pre-plan for their own funeral as well. Such people will be able to indicate the type of funeral service which they prefer in the advance medical directive, inform their loved ones on the chosen funeral service and make the necessary arrangement for the funeral.

Post-Funeral Services and Support

After the funeral services, the support does not and shouldn’t just stop there. The bereaved households can feel abandoned after the funeral, for buddies, well-meaning as well as family may go back to their regular routines when the funeral has ended. Grief support organizations supply the surroundings that is supportive for people that are mourning to manage the grief. The camaraderie and mental support that group members supply one another are comforting and enable mourners to undertake their losses in healthful ways. Additionally, in addition, it enables them to find out there are hope and continuing in their lives. Some organizations may also give general advice on typical grief reactions and they could enable mourners to value the distinctive feature in their personal grieving. Grief assistance courses are conducted by professional counsellors and social workers, nurses, and religious clergy, in addition to other care providers. Nowadays, there are several professional organizations, the truth is, that provide academic materials and services, for example on-line grief counselling and informational literature. Online support organizations provide several methods for example message board where mourners can actively supply support and share their private experiences in addition to obtaining specific guidance on the best way to handle the grief. Other types of post-funeral support may include programs that’s especially intended for kids that are grieving, street to retrieval that will be a 12-week grief and life-changing journey course. Some likewise have programs that are tailored to satisfy the demands of the mourner that is particular, including for examples widow support group, parents who lost kid’s group and change pairs.

Religious Affiliation and Funeral Customs

Funeral Services in Singapore: A Comprehensive Guide provides detailed information on various types of funeral services offered in Singapore. It covers traditional funeral services, non-religious funeral services, cremation services, and burial services. The guide also discusses funeral arrangements and services, including the role of funeral directors, available funeral packages, legal requirements, and associated costs. Additionally, it highlights the support available for bereaved families, such as grief counseling, funeral planning assistance, and post-funeral services. Finally, the guide explores different religious affiliations and their associated funeral customs. As specified above, Singaporean funeral customs are generally influenced by the religious perspectives and cultural practices of various racial groups. For example, as it is commonly observed, the Buddhist funeral customs and burial customs differ greatly from that of a Catholic’s, Christian’s or Soka Gakkai’s; for Buddhists’ case the practice of cremation follows cremation while for Christian or Catholic families, they will commonly prefer burial instead. Also, Singapore is home to various Chinese dialect groups like Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese and Teochew; and the specific funeral and burial customs for all these Chinese dialect groups are essentially the same as described above. In addition, 4 main types of private family funerals namely the parlor, HDB area soul, landed property soul and the premade quiet room funerals are recognized in Singapore. All these home visitation and burial customs will largely depend on the specific type of funeral and the mourning period chosen by the family; provided that the deceased is a senior member of the community. For a non-religious pet funeral or cremation, it can be held as a walk-in ceremony or the service can be requested online. The pet funeral and cremation service providers typically offer a service of two sessions for walk-in ceremony; one is held from 12 P.M to 1 P.M and the other is from 1 P.M to 2 P.M. Some funeral service providers could also arrange a pet cremation service for those who requested the service. Cremation can only take place after the necessary permission from AVS has been obtained.

The Singaporean government is mindful in the way that an individual’s last rituals and internment customs are observed, regarding any individual’s religious inclinations or spiritual beliefs as well. Until now, it is required that if a person passes away in Singapore, the body of the deceased can’t be kept for over 5 days and the cremation or burial service must be conducted within this time period. Secondly, the deceased must be issued a death certificate and valid burial or cremation certificate must be obtained before the funeral director can arrange the preparation or cremation of the body. In the first instance, family members (or some close relative) of the deceased will be required to go to the Registry of Births and Deaths to obtain the death certificate, which can be done at the hospital issuing the certificate or any of the Citizens Connect Centers, other than the Registry of Births and Deaths located at the Health Promotion Board, HSA or the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore. Only then, the body of the deceased can be accommodated at a funeral parlor or at the wake area, and the necessary burial or cremation arrangements can proceed.

Buddhist Funeral Customs

One of the main features of a Buddhist funeral is the chanting of scriptures by the monks. This is most often done during the wake, as the monks deliver a sermon to the gathered family and friends. The main bulk of the funeral service is the cremation of the deceased. The family will form a procession, and the monk will lead the group in a simple service held next to the coffin. Alms or tokens are offered to the monks, often as a sign of transferring the merit of the good deeds done at the funeral to the deceased. Finally, the same monk will initiate the cremation process by activating the furnace. In Buddhism, it is a popular option to share the ashes amongst family members, called an urn burial. The deceased’s ashes will be collected from the furnace and placed into the urn. Each family member will take turns to pour a little of their loved one’s ashes into the urn. This practice signifies the acceptance of the finality of death for each family member, as they can personally contribute to the final resting place of their loved one. The Buddhist tradition has several unique elements, and this is similarly reflected in the funeral customs practiced by those of the faith in Singapore. Such a comprehensive discussion is precisely what we are proud to offer you, the reader, in this complete guide to funeral services in Singapore.

Christian Funeral Customs

It is allowed for different Christian denominations to be involved in the organization and conducting of the funeral service. However, caregivers should respect the deceased’s religious practices and his or her expressed wish, if any were made known when he or she was alive.

The night service and the Holy Communion service are optional. The night service is usually held after the wake, and it is a time where family and friends gather to engage in quiet prayer and hymns. It is a comforting session where prayers are made for the soul of the deceased. On the other hand, the Holy Communion service is also an optional service and will be conducted on the morning of the church funeral service. It is held for the deceased soul to rest in peace.

In cases where the deceased passed away in a foreign country and there is a known wish by the deceased to be buried or cremated there, the family members or the funeral director may choose to have the body embalmed and placed in a coffin for repatriation to the foreign country within a week. On the other hand, if the family is not intending to have the body repatriated, the body may be kept in a mortuary, subject to the mortuary’s capacity.

On the day of the church funeral service, the family will have the chance to see their loved one for the last time if the casket was closed earlier. A funeral service may last for about 45 minutes to an hour, and it is held in a church. Close family members and friends will follow the cortege from the church to the crematorium or the cemetery.

A Christian funeral service in Singapore usually takes place within one to seven days from the date of death. The wake, the church funeral, and the cremation or burial are the most significant parts of a Christian funeral. The wake is a time for family and friends to gather and comfort one another. The casket may be open or closed during the wake, and it usually takes place in a parlour. The wake normally lasts for a few days while waiting for relatives and friends who are abroad to return for the funeral.

Christian Funeral Customs in Singapore

Hindu Funeral Customs

Hindu funeral customs are very comprehensive and specific. Every detail in the custom has been through many years of study and custom. It is very important for every Hindu to follow all the sequences, from the very first step right down to the last step. Nowadays, Hindu funeral customs are still being carried out in Singapore. However, the customs have undergone some evolutionary changes to suit modern development. Even though Hindu funeral customs are specific, some certain rituals are being toned down. This is to ensure that the deceased is given a respectable and honorable send-off and at the same time, the customs can be adapted to the changing times.

On the 100th day of the deceased, a final ritual will normally be performed. And for the next year, there is one day where the sons have to make an offering in the name of the deceased. This also marks the final and the ashes will be scattered 3 and a half years later. The period is the same for every deceased in the family as long as they are part of the family members that have gone through the ritual. Some relatives, after the conclusion of the whole process, may even go to the extent of having the ashes collected and kept in a common urn so that they can have a place to do an annual prayer.

In Singapore, the cremation is carried out within the same day of the collection of the body from the house. After the cremation, family members will have to observe a 13-day mourning. On the 13th day, the remains have to be collected from the place of cremation and brought back home. Thereafter, it is usually a shorter nine-day mourning. At the end of the 13 days, the remains have to be collected and brought to be disposed of in the sea. The ashes can be scattered over the sea, but it is normal that the ashes have to be kept for a prayer before they are scattered over the sea.

At the cremation ceremony, it is traditional for people to come to the house of the family and give their support by staying with the family members. All guests will leave for the cremation site together. The eldest son is supposed to accompany his father and send him to the cremation site. A priest will normally do some form of chanting during the transportation and at the site to console the family members. At the end of the chanting, there will be a final blessing, where all the family members and guests will take one last look at the deceased before the casket is put into the cremation machine, and the cremation will be carried out.

Prior to the arrival of a Hindu priest, a lamp is lit next to the body, and this lamp must stay alit continuously until the end of the cremation ceremony. On his arrival, he will perform a “house cleaning” ceremony. This is also called “purifying the house”. This ceremony is to remove any evil spirits and also keep the environment pure.

Upon the death of a loved one, it is traditional for the eldest son in the family to carry out the funeral arrangements. The first step in the Hindu funeral customs is to place the body in the home. The body is bathed as soon as possible after death, and it should be wrapped in a white cloth. After it is bathed, the body is placed in the home. The family will sit with the body and recite prayers for usually a day or two, sometimes even up to a week, depending on how much time is needed for the family to gather.

Hindu funeral customs are rooted in the belief in reincarnation. According to Hinduism, when a person dies, their soul is reborn. The ultimate goal of a Hindu life is to achieve Moksha, or salvation, whereby the soul is freed from this cycle of birth, death, and rebirth and unites with the Supreme Soul.

Muslim Funeral Singapore

Once the body has been prepared for burial, the imam of the mosque will conduct the janazah (funeral) prayer, which is a congregational prayer that has the aim of seeking pardon for the deceased. Unlike in Christian funeral customs, Muslims do not have a wake, and the deceased is buried as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours. Before the body is lowered into the grave, family members are encouraged to recite Takbir (“God is great”) in front of the deceased. The eldest son, or another male family member chosen by the family, recites the Takbir while facing the feet of the deceased. This is done as a mark of respect and also to gain forgiveness for the dead. It is common to repeat the prayer up to four times in total. Nowadays, burial grounds are managed by the National Environment Agency and graves are re-allocated after 15 years. In re-allocating the graves, the cemetery staff will identify the next-of-kin of the deceased and seek their consent in the exhumation of the body. Family members of the deceased would be informed in writing and in case the exhumation is refused, the family must justify the reason for refusal. Gravestones are managed by the same agency and it is important for family members to check what is permissible under the guidelines and to engage a registered organization that provides monumental services in order to place a gravestone. By doing this, family members would be able to ensure that the Muslim customs and religious obligations are adhered to. Every year for the first three years and later in the 5th and 7th year after the death, family members perform a special prayer for the deceased, called “kenduri”. This is generally held in the afternoon, after the Jumu’ah (Friday) congregational prayer. Close family and friends would be invited to join the prayer. This is followed by a special recitation from the Quran by a religious teacher, known as the Tahlil, and the recitation is completed by a Doa, or supplication in which blessings and forgiveness are asked for the deceased. The Doa is normally recited by the family members of the deceased. These practices are collectively known as what is meant by the “welfare of the dead”, or “Isal Thawab” in Arabic. Through the recitations and the special prayers and gatherings, a Muslim is assured of the continuous grace and blessings from living ones for the peace of the soul of the deceased. This helps to alleviate the grief and sorrow of the living family members as it is believed that their souls will also find peace through the remembrance of Allah.