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Belgium – End of Life Issues

Belgium is a Western European country known for its high-quality healthcare system. The country has a well-developed system of hospices that provides end of life care services to patients with life-limiting illnesses.

Overview of Hospices in Belgium

Hospices in Belgium are specialized medical facilities that provide palliative care to patients with life-limiting illnesses. The care provided in hospices is patient-centered and focuses on managing the patient’s symptoms, improving their quality of life, and providing emotional and spiritual support to patients and their families.

In Belgium, hospice care is provided by both private and government-run facilities. The care provided in hospices is often multidisciplinary, involving healthcare professionals such as physicians, nurses, social workers, and chaplains.

Hospices in Belgium work in close collaboration with other healthcare providers, such as hospitals, home care agencies, and primary care physicians, to ensure a seamless transition of care for patients.

Local Customs and Practices

Belgium is a culturally diverse country with several different cultural influences. The local customs and practices surrounding death and dying in Belgium reflect the country’s cultural diversity and can vary depending on the region and religious beliefs of the individual.

In general, death is viewed as a natural part of life, and people often celebrate the life of the deceased through traditional funeral practices. Belgian funeral services typically involve a mix of religious and secular customs, depending on the family’s preferences.


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What to do When Someone Dies in Belgium

When someone dies in Belgium, there are several procedures that must be followed to ensure that the deceased is appropriately cared for, and that the necessary legal requirements are met. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Contact a Doctor: If the death occurs at home, a physician or medical professional should be contacted immediately. The doctor will examine the deceased and issue a death certificate.

  2. Notify the Municipal Registrar of Deaths: The Municipal Registrar of Deaths must be notified of the death within 24 hours. The registrar will issue a death certificate that is required for burial.

  3. Obtain a Burial Permit: Before the deceased can be buried, a burial permit must be obtained from the Municipal Registrar of Deaths. The permit confirms that all legal requirements have been met and authorizes the burial.

  4. Organize the Funeral: The funeral service can be organized by the family or a funeral home, depending on the family’s preferences. Belgian funeral services typically involve a mix of religious and secular customs, depending on the family’s beliefs.

  5. Notify Government Services: Any government services, such as social security or healthcare benefits, should be canceled to avoid any issues with payments or fraud.

  6. Notify Other Agencies: Other agencies, such as the post office or utility companies, should be notified of the death to avoid any issues with bills or services.

  7. Settle the Estate: If the deceased had a will, the executor of the estate should begin the process of settling the estate. This includes distributing assets, paying debts and taxes, and filing any necessary legal documents.

It is important to note that the procedures for dealing with the death of a loved one in Belgium may vary depending on the circumstances of the death and the location. It is recommended to seek guidance from local authorities and healthcare providers to ensure that all necessary procedures are followed and that the deceased is given the proper care and respect they deserve.

End of life care in Belgium is provided by both private and government-run hospices, with a focus on providing patient-centered care to improve the quality of life of patients with life-limiting illnesses. The local customs and practices surrounding death and dying in Belgium reflect the country’s cultural diversity and can vary depending on the region and religious beliefs of the individual.

When someone dies in Belgium, it is essential to follow the necessary procedures to ensure that the deceased is appropriately cared for and that all legal requirements are met. By seeking guidance from local authorities and healthcare providers, families can ensure that their loved ones receive the proper care and respect they deserve during their end of life journey.


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