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Losing a loved one: A guide to bereavement support in Belgium
If a person dies at home, a doctor must be called to confirm the time and date of death and to provide the necessary paperwork. If the death occurs in a hospital or nursing home, a qualified medical attendant will provide the same. It must also be reported at the commune where the death occurred. A burial permit will be issued by a state official or a doctor.
Funeral arrangements are dealt with by a funeral home, taking into account the wishes of the deceased and the family. Short-term plots of 10 years are available for free in the commune cemetery. If you’d like a long-term memorial, you need to pay for a site that can be kept for up to 50 years. In the case of cremation, the ashes may be interred in an urn, scattered in a cemetery, in the territorial waters of Belgium or transferred overseas. Brussels is ntroducing legislation to allow for more eco-friendly burials.
If the deceased wishes to be buried in their home country, the funeral home will make arrangements. Contact the relevant embassy; it will help with repatriation and offer advice on the procedure.
In 2002, Belgium became the second country in the world to legalise euthanasia, and in early 2014 it became the first to remove age limits, meaning anyone of any age, under certain very specific conditions, can choose to end their life.
In Belgium, there is presumed consent for organ donation unless otherwise declared, though relatives can block this. If you want to donate your organs after you die, register your wishes with your town hall and discuss the issue with your family. It’s always a good idea to make a will at a notary.