In this leaflet, we have put together some practical information about what happens when a person dies at the hospital, and the decisions that relatives need to make.
You are always welcome to contact the doctors or nursing staff on the ward if you have any questions. Naturally, the hospital chaplains are also on hand to offer help and guidance. If you have any questions regarding burial or cremation, please contact an undertaker or the parish office in the parish of the deceased. You can find the parish by entering the deceased’s address at http://borger.personregistrering.dk/.
Saying goodbye to the deceased
A few hours after the death, a doctor will confirm the death and complete a death certificate. The deceased will then be prepared for release and dressed in a hospital gown or his/her own clothes if the relatives so wish. As a relative, you are welcome to help the nursing staff with this.
As far as practically possible, the deceased will remain in the department until any relatives who wish to say goodbye have had the chance to do so. Relatives arrange with the nurse on duty when it is possible to see the deceased.
The deceased is then taken to the hospital chapel. Relatives who are unable to get to the hospital until after the deceased has been moved to the hospital chapel will also have the opportunity to say goodbye there.
Call the hospital
- Switchboard, Hillerød: + 45 48 29 48 29
- Switchboard, Frederikssund: +45 48 29 50 00
and ask to be put through to
- the ward where the deceased was hospitalised, or
- the emergency department if the deceased was dead on arrival at the hospital.
The staff will help you arrange a time when you can say goodbye.
If more than 24 hours have passed since his/ her death, you should contact the chapel directly – weekdays from 8 am – 2 pm. In weekends/public holidays you can call the chapel i Hillerød on +45 48 29 56 81 from 7 am – 3 pm. The chapel in Frederikssund can be contacted on the same telephone number.
- The chapel, Hillerød, +45 48 29 59 20
- The chapel, Frederikssund, +45 48 29 54 76
Releasing the deceased
Before the deceased is released to relatives or an undertaker, the chapel staff and the undertaker see to it that the deceased is placed in a coffin. The coffin can be left open if you want a last chance to say goodbye. A short service may be held in the hospital chapel when the body is handed over. Talk to the undertaker or the chapel staff if you wish to arrange a service.
The completed death certificate is automatically recorded at the parish office in the parish of the deceased. The death certificate contains personal information about the deceased, the time and place of death, the doctor’s declaration following examination of the deceased as well as information about cause of death. If a post-mortem has been conducted, the certificate will also include the doctor’s observations. The death certificate is issued from the hospital chapel to the undertaker or the next-of-kin.
An autopsy can provide useful knowledge about the course of a disease and help determine the exact cause of death in case of doubt. Signs of the autopsy are not normally visible. The next-of-kin can obtain the results of the autopsy by contacting the ward where the death occurred, or the police, depending on who requested the autopsy.
An autopsy may only be conducted if
- the deceased had given his/her written consent, or
- the next-of-kin has given consent, or
- at the request of the police or Labour Market Insurance (Arbejdsmarkedets Erhvervssikring), formerly the National Board of Industrial Injuries (Arbejdsskadestyrelsen).
Autopsies are carried out at Herlev Hospital, and Nordsjællands Hospital arranges transportation to Herlev.
The deceased may have chosen to bequeath his/her body to a university. Relatives cannot overrule this choice. In such situations, the relatives should book an undertaker as soon as possible after the death to transport of the deceased to the university, which pays for the transportation. A ceremony can be arranged at which you can say goodbye if you wish. The undertaker can help with this.
The deceased’s belongings
The deceased’s clothing and other personal belongings are handed over to the next-of-kin by the nursing staff on the ward.
However, valuables (watches, jewellery, keys, money, credit cards, SIM cards, etc.) must be stored at the hospital until the probate court has issued a probate certificate. The deceased’s heirs may then bring the probate certificate to the information desk in person and collect the valuables.
If there are more heirs than those present, a power of attorney from those not present is required. The hospital can also send the valuables by recorded delivery to an heir who has sent the sent documentation – or to the solicitor dealing with the estate.
Informing others about the death
Even though it can be difficult to tell family, friends, acquaintances (and your loved-one’s workplace, if applicable) about the death, it is important to do so as soon as possible. This way, you avoid putting yourself and others in unpleasant situations. The nursing staff will help you contact close relatives.
Request for burial or cremation
The request for burial or cremation should be submitted to the parish office or to the parish priest in the parish of the deceased. You can either do this yourself or ask the undertaker to do it for you. The request is submitted electronically via borger.dk, or by printing out a form from borger.dk, which is then sent to the parish office or the parish priest in the parish of the deceased. This applies irrespective of the deceased’s faith and whether or not the deceased was a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark. The parish office informs the other public authorities of the death, including the probate court and the civil registration office. The parish of the deceased can be found by entering his/her address at http://borger.personregistrering.dk/.
About the burial or cremation
Burial or cremation normally takes place within 8 days of the death (including the date of death). By agreement with the parish office, it may take place up to 14 days after the death. The medical officer may grant permission for further postponement of the burial/cremation.
At a burial, the coffin containing the deceased is lowered into the grave in the cemetery. At a cremation, the deceased is cremated in the coffin. The ashes are collected in an urn, which is buried in a cemetery or at a burial site, unless the deceased has expressed a wish in writing for his/her relatives to scatter the ashes over open sea.
With both burial and cremation, a service can be held in a church or chapel depending on the wishes of the deceased and his/her relatives.
A priest/minister and undertaker can help with the practical aspects In the event of a church burial or cremation, please contact the parish of the deceased. The priest in the parish can then conduct the burial or cremation service.
Once the date and time have been agreed, the other details can be organised either by the relatives alone or with the help of an undertaker. The undertaker can help with the practical aspects (church, chapel, coffin, coffin decoration, burial/cremation service, burial site and transportation, as well as the actual cremation).
When you wish to handle the practical aspects yourselves
If you would like to organise the practical aspects relating to the burial or cremation, you should ask for the death certificate from the hospital chapel, or from the police, if applicable.
You should then contact the parish office in the parish of the deceased concerning the choice of burial site, time and place of the burial or cremation and use of a chapel, if applicable.
You can then contact an undertaker regarding the choice of coffin and to order any floral decoration and hearse transportation. If you choose not to enlist the help of an undertaker, relatives must collect and transport the deceased from the hospital themselves and coordinate the various agreements involving the priest, use of the church and the cemetery/crematorium.
As a relative, you can apply for funeral assistance if you are responsible for the funeral, and the deceased was entitled to Danish national health insurance. Whether the deceased is to be buried or cremated has no bearing on funeral assistance. An application for funeral assistance should be submitted digitally to Udbetaling Danmark. Funeral assistance is paid out as a non-taxable lump sum.
If the deceased was a member of a trade union or Sygeforsikring ”danmark”, you may also be able to apply for a grant from them. Please contact them for further information.
Advice and support
You are welcome to contact the ward where the deceased was hospitalised if you would like to talk to the staff about the death or about the deceased’s final moments at the hospital.
If you need advice or assistance to deal with the bereavement, please contact your GP or the local social services department, which can provide information about assistance options here and now and in the longer term.
Free advice may also be available privately from the Danish Cancer Society (www.cancer. dk) or The Danish National Center for Grief (www.bornungesorg.dk), for example.
Emergency crisis counselling
If you require emergency crisis counselling, staff on the ward where the deceased was hospitalised can provide information about the options open to you. Depending on the situation, you can also contact your GP, the psychiatric emergency department or a hospital chaplain.
For further practical information about what to do when someone dies, please visit: