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Vietnam – End of Life Issues

Vietnam is a culturally diverse country with different customs and practices surrounding death and dying. In this article, we will explore hospice care in Vietnam, local customs and practices when someone dies, and what you should do when someone dies in Vietnam.

Hospices in Vietnam

Hospice care in Vietnam is not well-established, and access to palliative care is limited. There are some hospice facilities in the country, but they are mainly located in major cities, and there is a shortage of trained healthcare professionals in the field of palliative care.

Hospice care in Vietnam is not covered by the National Health System, and it is often funded by charitable organizations or through private donations. Hospice care can be expensive, and it is often only available to those who can afford it.

Local Customs and Practices when Someone Dies in Vietnam

In Vietnam, there are different customs and practices surrounding death and dying, depending on the region and individual beliefs. However, there are some common practices that are observed throughout the country.

Mourning Period

In Vietnam, the mourning period usually lasts for 3 to 7 days. During this time, family and friends gather to offer condolences and support to the grieving family.


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Burial Customs

In Vietnam, burial is the preferred method of disposing of the deceased. Cremation is not common, and it is usually only chosen for practical reasons, such as lack of space or financial constraints.

Funeral Rites

Funeral rites in Vietnam vary depending on the individual’s religious beliefs and personal preferences. However, there are some common practices, such as the use of flowers and incense to honor the deceased.

What Should You Do When Someone Dies in Vietnam?

If you are in Vietnam and someone dies, there are certain procedures that you must follow. Here are the steps you should take:

  1. Notify the family doctor: The family doctor should be notified as soon as possible. If the death occurs in a hospital, the hospital staff will usually notify the family doctor.

  2. Arrange for the body to be transported: You will need to arrange for the body to be transported to a funeral home or a mortuary. This can be done through a funeral home, which can provide transportation services.

  3. Choose a funeral home: The family is responsible for choosing a funeral home and making funeral arrangements, including choosing the burial site, preparing the body, and arranging for a funeral service.

  4. Notify family and friends: It is customary to notify family and friends as soon as possible. This can be done through phone calls, emails, or social media.

  5. Settle the deceased’s affairs: The family must settle the deceased’s financial affairs, such as paying outstanding debts and canceling subscriptions or services.

  6. Notify relevant government agencies: You will need to notify several government agencies, such as the Civil Registry Office and the Social Security Administration.

  7. Consider organ donation: Organ donation is not common in Vietnam due to cultural and religious beliefs, but it is possible in some cases. The family should discuss this option with medical professionals if they are interested in donating the deceased’s organs.

  8. Seek professional help: The family may need professional help to cope with the loss of their loved one. There are counseling services available in Vietnam, and the family can also seek support from their community or religious organizations.

  9. Notify insurance providers: If the deceased had life insurance, the family should notify the insurance provider as soon as possible.

  10. Notify banks and financial institutions: The family should notify banks and financial institutions where the deceased held accounts or had investments to freeze the accounts and prevent any unauthorized access.

  11. Notify utility companies: The family should notify utility companies, such as electricity and gas providers, to cancel the deceased’s account and stop any further billing.

  12. Prepare for the funeral: The funeral is an important event in Vietnamese culture and is usually attended by a large number of people. The family should prepare for the funeral by choosing a date, inviting guests, and arranging for food and other supplies.

  13. Observe mourning customs: In Vietnam, it is customary to observe mourning customs for a certain period after the death. This may include wearing mourning clothes, refraining from attending social events, and avoiding loud or festive activities.

  14. Pay respects to the deceased: It is customary for family and friends to pay their respects to the deceased by visiting the funeral home or the burial site. This is usually done by bringing flowers, incense, or other offerings.

  15. Offer condolences to the family: It is customary for guests to offer condolences to the family by expressing sympathy and offering support during the mourning period.

In Vietnam, there are some additional steps that must be taken, depending on the region and individual beliefs. For example, in some regions, it is customary to have a wake at home, where family and friends gather to pray and offer condolences to the family.

In some regions, it is also customary to have a funeral procession, where the casket is carried through the streets to the cemetery, accompanied by mourners and music.

In conclusion, end-of-life care in Vietnam is not well-established, and access to palliative care is limited. The local customs and practices surrounding death and dying vary depending on the region and individual beliefs, but there are some common practices observed throughout the country. If you are in Vietnam and someone dies, it is important to follow the procedures outlined above to ensure that the deceased’s affairs are settled, and the family can properly mourn and honor their loved one.


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