Exhumation is the process of unearthing buried remains of the deceased. While this practice is rather uncommon in many countries, demand for exhumation services in Singapore has been somewhat boosted by a law, imposed on 1 November 1998, that limits all burial period to a maximum of 15 years. Thereafter, the remains are to be exhumed and families can opt for cremation or reburial in smaller graves.
To support those affected by the National Environment Agency’s (NEA’s) exhumation programme, the NEA offers free exhumation services (by their appointed contractors) which includes cost incurred for the actual exhumation and cremation. A simple no frills urn and standard niche at Mandai Columbarium is also provided as a final resting place for the corpses.
Families can however opt to forego the above free exhumation and instead opt to hire their own contractor to carry out the job. Most funeral directors, ourselves included, offer this service.
Other Reasons for Exhumation
Apart from the 15 year burial law Singapore imposes, there are other good reasons why exhumation services are needed. Criminal investigations for one, where further investigations may be required when new evidences are uncovered. Another possible reason can be DNA testing to confirm a child’s parentage, genealogy or the identity of the deceased. A family moving from one country to another and prefer to have their loved one’s remains close to them to better care for their grave can also choose to excavate. Or in some instances, families may (for their own personal reasons) choose to cremate and place the remains in a Columbarium.
The Exhumation Process
In Singapore, it is illegal to disturb any grave without first obtaining the required approval. We can help with this application process. Upon approval, the NEA will set a date for the exhumation to be carried out.
Government officials will be present to oversee the process to ensure it is carried out in a legally abiding way, according the proper dignity and respect for the dead. The hired funeral services provider will also be present to supervise the works, as will a representative from the family of the deceased.
Excavation often involves both machinery as well as physical labour. Before the casket is unearthed, the site of original burial must be cleared of tombstones or any other structures demarcating the burial ground. The casket must be carefully raised paying extra attention to ensuring that the coffin is kept intact. This may be challenging if the casket has been buried for a lengthy period of time. Hiring qualified contractors to do the job is thus of utmost importance.
Depending on religion, there are various practices to be taken into account when excavating a burial ground. If required by the family, we can also arrange for a priest or monk to be present help officiate the event.
Taoist and Buddhist
An auspicious time must be chosen by a Fengshui master for exhuming the remains of a deceased of Chinese beliefs. The priest or Fengshui master begins the procedure by knocking the tombstone of the deceased to alert them that they are being moved. Relatives turn away as the tombstone is knocked into and the gravedigger uses his bare hands to retrieve the remains of the deceased. The remains are to be rinsed with white wine or antiseptic and put into a tagged plastic bag. A family member has to carry the bag of remains to be buried or cremated, whilst being sheltered by an umbrella made of wood and paper.
While the family can choose for a reburial due to religious reasons, a more common option is cremation after which the ashes will be placed in an urn chosen by the family and laid to rest again in one of the following places:
- Mandai Columbarium
- Private Columbarium
- Scattered at Sea (Sea Burial)
Why Solace (安祥殡葬礼仪)?
The Tee Family has been in the funeral trade since 1965, helping bereaved Singapore families of all race and religion with all funeral related matters including exhumation. And with Solace, being helmed by our founder, Damien Tee (a third generation Tee family funeral director), you are assured of an experienced exhumation service provider whenever you hire us. With us, you can expect the remains of your deceased loved one which handled with the utmost respect and dignity throughout the whole exhumation process.
In addition, we are affordably priced and we have properly trained grave diggers to ensure a fast and smooth Exhumation Service. By leaving the logistics to us, you can have peace of mind knowing that every minute detail will be taken care of, and that the end result is always a smooth running, stress-free and well arranged exhumation operation.
Getting in Touch with Us
Our Funeral Services Consultants are available 24/7 to assist you. To reach us, simple call our helpline at +65 6631 8411 or email us with the contact form on this page. At Solace (安祥殡葬礼仪), help is always only a phone call away.
Our Funeral Services Helpline
+65 6631 8411
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