COVID 19 UPDATE FOR FUNERAL SERVICES 2021
Funeral Services during Covid Period As at 19 August 2021
a. Attendees at wakes and funerals including foot processions, shall be kept to 30 persons or fewer at any one time, depending on the safe capacity of the venue, whichever is lower. Pre-event testing is not required.
b. Burials and cremations shall be attended by not more than 30 persons in total. NEA will issue 30 entry passes for each cremation or burial application at the government-managed facilities.
c. Religious workers, funeral staff and persons involved in the conduct of live instrumental music should be kept to a minimum.
d. All attendees at funeral wakes, foot processions, burials and cremations must wear a mask. The prevailing group size of no more than 5 persons applies and there should not be mixing between groups. Please ensure that a safe distance of at least one metre is maintained between individuals and/or groups.
e. Where seating at a table is provided, every chair for each table must be placed at least one metre away from any other chair for another table at all times. Tables and chairs must be arranged such that each table can accommodate not more than 5 individuals seated at the table or not more than 5 individuals in each group separated by a space of at least one metre. There should be no mixing between groups.
f. Attendees of funeral events should minimize their interaction with fellow attendees and leave the premises immediately after the event. No buffet set-up or reception with food and drinks is allowed.From 19 July 2021, provision of individually packed drinks (i.e. bottled/packet drink) or individually packed titbits (e.g. peanuts, melon seeds) is disallowed at funeral wakes.
g. Individually packed food/drink (e.g. bento boxes) may be supplied to family members of the deceased who keep vigil for the duration of the funeral wake, and need to consume food at the premises. However, they should not interact with the other attendees when consuming their meals, and should consume their meals away from guests present at the funeral/wake event.
h. Live instrumental music (non-wind) will be allowed at funeral events. The persons involved in the conduct of live instrumental music must wear a mask at all times and should minimise movement to ensure that the one metre safe distance can be adhered to at all times. They are not to participate in the foot procession. No other performances (e.g. singing, dance, variety act) are allowed and there should be no sharing of equipment (e.g. musical instruments, microphones, props). Live singing and playing of wind instruments (instruments which require intentional expulsion of air, e.g. trumpets, conch shell) are not allowed.
i. Hearse escort party, i.e. musical band and/or display contingent on foot and including vehicles ferrying banners/blanket/flowers, is not allowed during the funeral event.
j. Religious workers involved in the conduct of the religious rites (e.g. preachers, prayer leader, scripture reader), will be required to wear face mask when performing their speaking duties (i.e. preach, chanting of prayers) at funeral wakes and funeral services (i.e. cremation or burial services). They should largely remain at the spot from which they are speaking and must be at least one metre away from any other individual. Use of face shields in place of face mask is no longer allowed.
k. Temperature screening is required for every individual entering the funeral event space and any person who is unwell must be turned away.
l. SafeEntry check-in is required for funeral events and funeral parlours with wake halls. From 17 May 2021, TraceTogether-only SafeEntry (TT-only SE) check-in will be required for funeral parlours with wake halls and also funeral events. Visitors must perform TT-only SE check-in, via TraceTogether app or TraceTogether token to enable or facilitate contact tracing.
m. From 19 April 2021, funeral parlours with wake halls are required to deploy SafeEntry Gateway as an additional SafeEntry check-in method. The SafeEntry Gateway enables contactless detection of both the TraceTogether App and Token, and serves as an additional means of SE check-in that is quicker and more seamless.
n. Discourage vulnerable persons, such as the elderly, from attending these events to protect their health and consider alternative solutions for them, such as live video screening instead.
o. Funeral staff is strongly advised to administer self-testing regime using the Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kits available for purchase over retail counters. Family members may also consider to perform self-testing if they are worried that they may have COVID-19 and want to put their mind at ease. For more information on ART self-test kits, please visithttps://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/selftestart.
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How To Prepare For A Funeral
Here are 5 important questions that you will need to discuss with your family before the start of the funeral service.
1. What clothing should we prepare?
Prepare a presentable set of clothing for the deceased’s final service – such as a suit/dress that he/she wore for any past event. This includes the undergarments, socks, shoes, and any other accessories.
2. Which photograph should we choose?
Decide on one photograph to be enlarged for the funeral service. Our funeral director can assist with any necessary photoshop editing.
3. What is the preferred religious service?
Religious service plays an important role during funerals. If there was a switch in religion during the deceased’s final days, family members must decide on the preferred religious rites for the funeral service.
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4. Where should we conduct the burial or cremation?
For ground burial, only Chua Chu Kang Cemetery Complex is available in Singapore. The area is separated into different sections based on religion.
For cremation, there are 3 options depending on the religion. For all religions, it can be done at the Mandai Government Crematorium. Whereas for Buddhists or Taoists, it can be done at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (also commonly known as Bright Hill Temple), or at Tse Toh Aum Temple.
5. Where should we keep the ashes?
Ashes may be stored at either government-managed columbaria, private temples, or churches. Our funeral directors can assist with purchasing a niche at the government columbaria.
What To Do When A Loved One Passes Away
- Engage a doctor to certify the cause of death or call the ambulance in the presence of any uncertainty.
- If you do not have any doctor as a point of contact, our funeral director will assist you in this.
- Bring the documents issued by the doctor to the nearest police post to attain an official death certificate. Identification cards belonging to the deceased and the informant must be present.
- Our funeral director will transfer your loved one into our care.
When someone passes away at the hospital/ nursing home/ hospice:
- The resident doctor will certify the cause of death.
- You may obtain the death certificate at the hospital. If the service is unavailable, bring the documents issued by the doctor to the nearest police post to attain an official death certificate. Identification cards belonging to the deceased and the informant must be present.
- Our funeral director will transfer your loved one into our care.
How to choose a suitable Funeral Package/ Funeral Service Provider
In Singapore, the cost of a funeral service depends on different needs and expectations. With so many variations and packages out in the market, it is important that family members look for a trustworthy and transparent funeral service provider. Most packages come with hidden costs and additional expenses. Furthermore, the additional cost will only be made known at the end of the funeral.
As such, we have come up with the top 5 things that you should look out for when selecting a funeral package.
1) Take note of the content within the funeral package
Very often, family members will be short-changed as packages are non-comprehensive. This gives some companies the chance to include other items at additional charges, without making it clear to their clients.
2) Do not be misled by low prices
Prices actually depend on the type of funeral service, such as religious or non-religious funerals, and whether there are any specific requirements. Many budget packages in the market are often low-end, which require family members to top up extra money for a decent setup or a decent venue.
Funeral services are important as the last chapter to the deceased’s journey and should be handled with care. To find a decent funeral service provider within budget and with satisfactory service, click here to find out more.
3) Ask for pictures
Established funeral service companies will have many examples of varying setups that they have arranged previously. Family members are encouraged to speak to the funeral director to understand more, and pictures will help in having a better understanding of what to expect. Viewing their different setups also ensures that you have a gauge on the company’s service quality.
4) Make a comparison between funeral companies
With so many options out in the market, do your own due diligence, ask questions, and get a quotation. Source around to research and compare prices, as well as the different funeral setups available. Looking at different packages will help you to better understand the market rate and compare the setups, and additional services offered by the funeral company.
5) Take note of the history of the funeral company
Besides cost and package types, family members should do their research on the funeral service company. As it’s an important event to mark a farewell to the deceased, it is essential that you look for well-established funeral services that have been in the market for a long time.
There have been many instances of sham companies that are in fact intermediaries. They often rely on sub-contractors to gain higher profits, with no quality check. However, here at Singapore Funeral Group, you can be assured that we use 100% fresh flowers, with absolute quality assurance.
Types of Funeral Flowers and Their Meanings
Lilies are the usually most popular choice for funeral flowers, as they represent the restoration of innocence to the departed soul. This also brings a sense of peace and serenity to the funeral.
The various colours of roses represent different meanings, and white roses are the most appropriate of the group, signifying reverence, innocence, and youthfulness. Red, pink and yellow flowers express feelings of respect, love, and friendship respectively.
While these flowers can be used for funeral setups as well, it depends on the family’s preferences and traditions. Visitors seeking to bring flowers to a funeral should stick to bringing white roses or white flowers in general.
Orchids symbolise sympathy and everlasting love for the dearly departed. Potted orchid plants can make for a unique funeral setup, with both pink and white variations being suitable.
Especially in the Asian context, Chrysanthemum flowers are commonly used in funeral floral arrangements to say goodbye. White Chrysanthemums in particular are symbolic of bidding farewell, while celebrating a life well-lived by the dearly departed.
Both pink and white carnations are used for funeral floral setups, to express sympathy and remembrance for the dearly departed. White carnations are especially symbolic of grief and a deep sense of sorrow, with everlasting love and loyalty. As carnations are long-lasting, they are often a popular choice for setups spanning over several days.
Should you require any further information or assistance for a funeral setup, do feel free to contact our professional team of funeral directors here.
5 Things You Need To Know When Attending A Funeral Wake
When attending a funeral wake, it is important to be mindful of these basic etiquettes.
1. Dress appropriately
In general, dress simply in dark coloured clothing. For females, do refrain from wearing revealing attire, including miniskirts or shorts.
2. Pay respects first
After arriving and identifying your purpose to ensure that you are attending the correct wake, approach the memorial table to pay your respects.
If you are offering an incense, light one incense stick and offer it into the censer. Following which, make three respectful bows.
If you do not use incense, maintain a moment of silence and send your deepest well wishes to the deceased.
3. Offer your condolences
There is no specific range to how much money you should give at a wake. This is dependent on the relationship between you and the person you are visiting, as well as your own financial situation.
However, if you are the one receiving the contribution, you must ensure that you return back the equivalent amount or more to those who had contributed.
4. Take a red thread
Traditionally, red candles were given out in appreciation for one’s attendance. However, in modern times, this has now been replaced with red threads which can be found in the tidbits tray on every table. The red threads symbolize auspiciousness and must be discarded before entering your house.
5. Be helpful
Besides giving your greatest care and support to the bereaved family, be helpful while you are at the wake. Some small gestures include buying food or snacks over, folding joss paper, and arranging the tables and chairs at the wake.
Things To Avoid after A Funeral (Buddhist/ Taoist)
We have consolidated guidance from the relevant cultural masters and have adapted their advice to fit the modern day society. The following are some improvised post-funeral observations for your reference:
During the wake period:
Refrain from trimming your nails or hair, as these have been given by one’s parents. During the initial days of their passing, such acts must be avoided.
Avoid entertainment, which is a basic rule during such an event.
Within 49 days of their passing:
Refrain from visiting friends or relatives and instead, use this time to reflect about life and allow your emotions to settle down.
Make offerings weekly or fortnightly before the spiritual tablet, in memory and appreciation.
Within 100 days of their passing:
Avoid wearing bright coloured clothing and refrain from attending weddings, celebratory events or funeral wakes of friends or acquaintances.
Any Chinese customary weddings should be conducted within this period. After these 100 days, it is advisable to postpone the event till a year later.
On the 100th day, make an offering at the columbarium or grave site.
Before the 1st year anniversary of the passing
Refrain from conducting celebrations at home, which includes Chinese New Year celebrations and Chinese festival celebrations. Instead, make simple offerings before their tablet to keep them in memory.
Visitations to your relatives’ houses during the Chinese New Year period is also not recommended.
On the 1st year death anniversary, the family will wear red after the “combination prayers”, to mark the end of the mourning period.
Buddhist Funeral Services in Singapore (Part 1)
In this section (part 1), we will elaborate on Buddhist funeral setups, Buddhist funeral chants, as well as Buddhist funeral offerings.
Buddhist funeral setups are often simple in nature, as most Buddhist monks advocate cutting down on unnecessary funeral expenses. Many will also prefer a more environmentally friendly approach as well.
Yellow or Beige drapery are commonly used as the standard theme for Buddhist funerals. To Buddhists, yellow symbolises holiness and enlightenment, while beige is associated with purity and rest, which conveys hope for the departed to move on peacefully.
Very often, there will also be a display of Buddhist scriptures to give peace and consolation to the bereaved families. These scriptures serve as a reminder to all that life on earth is impermanent, and only upon achieving enlightenment, will one be relieved from all suffering.
With a strong influence from Chinese culture, Buddhist Mahayana monks may conduct certain rituals based on the appropriate Chinese customaries. However, the essence of such rites remain — which is to create merits to be transferred to the deceased and bereaved families.
The more commonly chanted sutras (scriptures) at Buddhist funerals are:
1) Amitabha Sutra
The Amitabha Sutra uses imagery to describe the western paradise and the methods to be reborn there. This is the most commonly chanted sutra in Buddhist funerals.
2) 3 Combined Sutra (Lotus Sutra - The Universal Gate Chapter, The Diamond Sutra & The Great Confession & Repentance before the 88 Buddhas)
This combination of sutras gathers the 3 most popular sutras chanted in the Mahayana lineage. With compassion of the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva aka Guan Yin, the wisdom of emptiness, and the powerful merits of confessing one’s past deeds, this combination is often preferred by the general Buddhist.
3) The Original Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra
The Ksitigarbha aka Di Zang Wang Pu Sa, made great vows to relieve one from suffering and also gave clear directions on how one can create great merits to benefit the dearly departed. This sutra consists of 3 volumes, and monks will normally require more than 2 hours to complete reading it.
Vegetarian food is normally the preferred choice of meal at Buddhist funerals, as it reminds one to be compassionate to all beings. That being said, there are also sects with no dietary restrictions.
A standard meal offered to the deceased consists of: 1 bowl of rice, 6 types of vegetarian dishes, 3 types of fruits, and 2 types of pastries/ buns. Additionally, there will be 5 different types of fruits offered before the Buddha’s statue or image.
Fresh flowers are also preferred at Buddhist funeral wakes, as a blooming flower symbolises the impermanence of life. Thus, it is a reminder that one must open their heart like a blooming flower to others, similar to how flowers open themselves up for bees to collect nectar freely.
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