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Colombia – End of Life Issues

Colombia is a country located in South America with a population of over 50 million people. The country has a diverse culture with a mix of indigenous, European, and African influences. The end-of-life care in Colombia is influenced by its culture and traditions. In this article, we will explore the hospice care in Colombia, the local customs and practices when someone dies, and the steps to take when someone passes away.

Overview of Hospices in Colombia

Hospice care is a specialized type of care for individuals who are nearing the end of their lives. It aims to improve the quality of life of patients by providing relief from pain and other distressing symptoms. Hospice care is provided by a team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, and volunteers.

In Colombia, hospice care is available in some hospitals and healthcare facilities. There are also a few standalone hospice centers in major cities such as Bogota and Medellin. However, hospice care is not widely available, and many Colombians still do not have access to it.

Local Customs and Practices When Someone Dies

Colombia has a rich and diverse culture with many different customs and practices when it comes to death and dying. Some of the most common practices include:

  • Viewing of the body: It is customary to hold a wake where family and friends can come to view the body and pay their respects. This is usually held at the family’s home or at a funeral home.

  • Religious traditions: The majority of Colombians are Catholic, and many follow Catholic traditions when it comes to death and dying. This includes holding a funeral Mass and having a priest bless the body.

  • Family involvement: Family is an essential part of end-of-life care in Colombia. It is common for family members to take care of the sick person at home and to be present during the dying process.

  • Mourning period: Colombians usually observe a mourning period of at least three days. During this time, family members and close friends gather to offer their support and condolences to the grieving family.

What to do When Someone Dies in Colombia

When someone dies in Colombia, there are several steps that need to be taken. These include:

  1. Contact a doctor or nurse: If the person dies at home, a doctor or nurse needs to be contacted to verify the death and issue a death certificate. If the person dies in a hospital, the hospital staff will take care of this.

  2. Notify the funeral home: The family needs to contact a funeral home to make arrangements for the body. The funeral home will take care of transporting the body, preparing it for burial or cremation, and organizing the funeral service.

  3. Register the death: The death needs to be registered with the local civil registry office within 48 hours. The funeral home can usually take care of this.

  4. Notify the deceased’s employer or pension provider: If the deceased was employed or receiving a pension, their employer or pension provider needs to be notified of their death.

  5. Notify the deceased’s bank and other financial institutions: If the deceased had bank accounts or other financial assets, their bank and other financial institutions need to be notified of their death.

  6. Cancel services and subscriptions: Any services or subscriptions in the deceased’s name, such as utilities, phone, or internet, need to be canceled.

  7. Notify the deceased’s embassy or consulate: If the deceased was a foreign national, their embassy or consulate needs to be notified of their death.

  8. Funeral Arrangements
    Funeral arrangements are usually handled by funeral homes, and it is customary to hold a wake or visitation prior to the funeral. The funeral service can be either religious or secular, depending on the deceased’s beliefs and preferences. In Colombia, it is common for funeral attendees to wear white, rather than the traditional black.

  9. Burial or Cremation
    Both burial and cremation are options for disposing of the deceased’s body in Colombia. If the family chooses burial, they must select a cemetery and purchase a plot. Cremation, on the other hand, requires the family to obtain a cremation permit from the local health department. The ashes can then be scattered or kept in an urn.

  10. Mourning Period
    In Colombia, the mourning period varies depending on the individual and their family’s traditions. It is common for the family to hold a memorial service or mass at the one-year anniversary of the death.

Conclusion
End of life care in Colombia involves a combination of modern medical practices and traditional customs and beliefs. Families play a significant role in caring for their loved ones, and religious and cultural traditions are an essential part of the dying process. Understanding the local customs and practices can help ensure that the end of life is respectful and dignified for all involved.


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