When a person dies

Death of a person, a family member or a close friend, brings changes to the lives of others. It´s very personal how people deal with the situation when somone close to them dies. Death can be sudden or it can be something expected, it can be caused by sickness, accident or by other reasons. In every case there are many things to consider and practical issues to keep in mind.

  • When a person dies at a hospital or other healthcare facility, closest relative will be notified as soon as possible.
  • In the case of an accident, a church minister or a specially summoned police officer will deliver the news to the next of kin.
  • In cases of a fatal accident, reporters coordinate with the priest or police on when the identity of the deceased is made public. Usually that´s not done until most of their closest family members have been notified.
  • After a death occurs the closest relative should contact a minister, other religious officiant or funeral direction for information on the next steps.
  • Were there any end-of-life wishes made by the deceased? The wishes for their own funeral by the deceased are more important than any wishes of the next of kin.
  • If the deceased person’s beliefs are not the same as of the relatives, the funeral service generally defers to the deceased’s beliefs.
  • A request for cremation must be respected.
  • Where death occurs outside a healthcare facility, the police are summoned, along with ambulance staff and a physician to confirm death.
  • Sometimes there is an opportunity to hold a quiet moment of farewell before the deceased is transferred. Such moments can be very important.
  • A death certificate is a report of an persons death and cause of death to Registers Iceland and a report of a person’s death to the district commissioner as well.
  • A doctor, the personal physician of the deceased and sometimes the police (depending on the manner of death), examine the body and a physician writes the death certificate.
  • The deceased’s closest relative receives the death certificate from the relevant healthcare facility or physician who examined the body.
  • Funeral homes will be able to arrange transport from one part of the country to another for the next of kin.
  • If a deceased person is to be transported out of Iceland, the next of kin must provide the death certificate to the district commission in the jurisdiction where the person died.
  • Let other family members and friends know about the death as soon as possible.
  • Review the wishes of the deceased, if any, regarding the funeral and contact a minister, other religious officiant or funeral director for further information and guidance.
  • Collect the death certificate from the healthcare facility or physician, submit it to the district commissioner and receive written confirmation. Provide the confirmation to those overseeing the funeral.
  • Find out if the deceased has rights to any funeral benefits.
  • Contact the media well in advance if the funeral is to be announced publicly.

Further information

Further information can be found here at the island.is website.

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