planning a funeral
Some information on Post Death Arrangements
Please note the information gathered below was for a stillborn baby delivered at QMH and later cremated in Hong Kong. Additional research may be required depending on your situation, the hospital it occurred and whether cremation or burial is chosen. Please also note the loss of child before 24 weeks gestation will be governed by different conditions under the HK Government.
Regardless of the situation, I hope some of it may help during what will be a very difficult time. I hope you will never have to use this, but if so, I am very sorry for their loss and my heart really aches for anyone having to go through this horrible event.
Funeral Homes and Undertakers in Hong Kong
Currently there are more than 120 licensed undertakers in Hong Kong. The list of the undertakers is available at the webpage of Food and Environmental Hygiene Department: http://www.fehd.gov.hk/english/cc/lu.pdf
Of the 120, only 7 are licensed funeral parlours, which means they hold a license to also arrange a funeral service. The other 113 undertakers will be able to make all the arrangements such as documentation, burial, cremation and relocation of your loved one, but they do not have facilities for hosting funerals or services. They can however arrange the funeral through a funeral parlour on your behalf.
Australian Consulate – Recommended Undertakers /Funeral Homes
Kung Sau Funeral Services
2 Square St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Tel: 2546 7183
This company is a licensed Undertaker not a funeral parlour. They are a smaller business and were the most sensitive people we dealt with in regards to the situation. They were kind and explained the process in terms that did not cause us additional stress. Lesley Kok was the woman we dealt with and she spoke very good English. She also helped us pick a nice urn for our baby.
To give you an idea, the cost of their services was HK$8500 + the cost of the urn.
Perpetual Funeral Home
Shop F, G/F 183 Bulkeley Street, Hung Hom Hong Kong
Tel: 2766 2829
(we did not contact this one)
Universal Funeral Parlour
10 Cheong Hang Rd, Hung Hom, Hong Kong
Tel: 2362 4331
White Lily - http://whitelily.com.hk/contact-us
I also tired the two Funeral Parlours listed above. If you wish to contact these, please keep in mind that some of the ways they will discuss your loved one can be quite distressing and insensitive. They are big businesses with operators and will leave you on hold for hours, or talk about the care of the body in quite frank terms. It may be wise to have a friend do the calling for you.
A Guide to After Death Arrangements in HK
Government guide- Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of HK have a booklet that provides useful information on processes, laws and conditions, as well as public and private funeral service, cremation or burial options.
This website offers a brief summary on processes:
Procedures at Queen Mary
Queen Mary Hospital have a booklet which outilines their processes when a person/baby dies in their hospital. See page 14 (in English) this is very useful to understand the process for your situation.
Steps we took to make arrangements for the cremation of our child.
QMH will ask if you would like a post-mortem examination. The post-mortem examination will normally be arranged within 2 to 3 working days. You will need to sign a form consenting to this.
The hospital will prepare some documents. You will need these documents before the undertaker can proceed with any arrangements. For Stillbirth, they will issue a death certificate called Form 13 and a collection form, which permits the Undertakers to collect the body. Please be aware, the person who signs the collection form (usually the mother or father) will need to identify the body upon collection. The forms may take 2-5 days to prepare. You can contact the Death Document Office (Tel: 2255 3678) for further information on picking up Form 13 and the Collection Form (located at Block S, Floor 2).
I phoned the Australian embassy who confirmed that I did not need to lodge the death of my child in Australia. This may vary depending on the situation, but was the case for stillborn.
Once you decide on an undertaker, you will need to take these forms to their office. Ask them to make a photocopy for you as you will not get them back. Discuss what you would like, and choose a casket and/or urn. Upon collection from the hospital, HK law requires the undertaker to collect the body in a casket. So even if you are cremating your loved one, you will still need to purchase a casket. There are different options from wood to more simple paper boxes. You can also choose decorations such as flowers etc. The undertaker will then provide you with quote. But please ensure they explain the whole process with you including how soon cremation or burial can be arranged. In our experience, the crematorium only does 4 cremations a day, and may be booked out for the week. So you may have to be prepared to wait.
You will meet the undertaker at the hospital. The person who signed the collection form will need to identify the body. This may be a very hard thing to do. In our case we had opted for a post-mortem examination and some time had passed since the death of our baby so it was quite distressing. I would suggest you bring a relative/friend for support. There are ways to arrange the undertaker or another person to identify the body. But I think you would need them to sign the Body Collection Form, once the hospital prepares this. Please speak to the undertaker if you wish to arrange for someone else to identify the body.
For cremation, the undertaker will then drive to the crematorium. You can choose to go along, and even watch the cremation if you wish. (the government link above will have more information on the location and details of the crematorium etc.) It may take anywhere between 3-7 days to receive the ashes.
There is a range of options for preparing a service. You may choose a church, service hall or another place of your choice. For cremation, HK government offer a free Ferry service that will take you and 10 people of your choice, to spread the ashes in the South China Sea. There are also Remembrance gardens where ashes can be scattered, or private/public places to store ashes. Follow the link above, to the HK Government guide on after death arrangements for more information.
QMH also have a Farewell Room, located on the Lower Ground Floor of Clinical Pathology Building, QMH. It is free-of charge and operates on Appointment Booking Schedule basis, 1 hour each session. Relatives can hold simple funeral ceremony in this room during office hour. The opening hours of Farewell Room are between 9:00am-1:00pm and 2:00pm-5:00pm everyday. For reservation please contact QMH Death Document Office: 2255 3678 or have the undertaker prepare on your behalf.
If you would like to send your loved one back home, I would suggest having the undertaker arrange this for you. They will know all the correct forms to prepare. You can also arrange this at a later stage, when you are ready.
You may want to check with your consulate if there are any customs restrictions (e.g. if you chose a wood urn, this may be difficult bringing into Australia).
Note on Autopsy
Another mother from glow in the harbour decided to not conduct a postmortem autopsy. Because of this she was able to visit her baby once a week at the hospital mortuary for 30 minutes.
Choosing to conduct an autopsy is a personal choice and sometimes even mom and dad do not agree on what to do. Take time to discuss and decide. And remember to give yourself grace--you did the best you could with the information you had at the time.
Click here for some information from March of Dimes on how to decide if you want to do an autopsy or not.