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Funerals in Colombia

Discussion forum for expats moving to or living in Colombia.

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Funerals in Colombia

Post Posted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:17 am

I had my first experience of a Colombian Funeral yesterday, and as far as you can be at such an occasion, I have to say, I was very impressed.

It was an interment as opposed to a cremation, but the system remains the same. The man was a family member, and had converted to Judaism, hence the burial, but he had still died that morning.

The Cemetery is in Medellin and is vast, as you drive in you are met with a host of Flower Sellers, with arrangements in every price range, and fresh. There are then Admin Buildings, and at least eight Chapels of Rest. Ours was open from 1 pm until 4pm for viewing of the open coffin, and then the coffin was conveyed to the grave by hearse, and six uniformed Attendants, this was quite a hike for some of the elderly Relatives, and better advice could have been given, because I found a quick easy route back to the car.

In the Chapel of Rest, and the Graveside there is no Priest or equivalent, the Service is conducted by the family, which was new to me, because in the UK all services are conducted by a Priest of some description, even if they didn't know the deceased, my Wife was quite surprised when I told her this, however I found that holding the Service in this way made it more personal, and I could see that there is no way to really justify the UK system.

There is none of the starchy formality, people came straight from work, in their work clothes, and because it is part of the culture, no one gave a damn whether you were in a suit, or jeans and oil covered T-shirt, the fact that you had made the effort to say good-bye was the important factor.

Yes... I have to say that Colombians have definitely got this one sorted, and it works, as to what it costs, I have no idea, and hope it is sometime before I have to find out!

Update: I have since been informed that the grave your coffin is put in, is included as part of the fee, however you only have it for four years, then they dig you up, by which time you are expected to be no more than a skeleton. You have a few options open to you, either you purchase a family 'hole in the wall, and the bones are placed there, and other family members can be added later, you can purchase a smaller plot of land, and add the family bones, or if you are wealthy, a family grave or vault, and finally cremation of the bones. The other option is not to have a burial, but go straight for the cremation, then the process is complete.

I have to admit, this process does worry me a bit, I know if you look at it logically, it is just a pile of bones, the person is long gone, but it doesn't seem very dignified, however I feel the same way about the cremation process in the UK, where if you don't take the ashes home, you can rent a space in the Garden of Rest for 20 years, then if you haven't moved them, the spot is reused. I guess it all comes down to personal requirements and culture.


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