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Funeral technical procedures


Human beings, regardless of cultural religious or historical upbringing, are united by one common bond, the need to communicate and to know that they are not alone.

The recognition that something they experience has also been experienced by another is both reassuring and a huge relief.

I spend most of my time confirming to those who grieve that they are not losing their mind and that the thoughts and feelings they are experiencing in grief are usual.

(I hesitate to use the word “normal”, as everyone sets their own criteria as to the true meaning of that word).

There are vast, unspoken and unexplored areas of death and of communication, even in today’s technical, forward-thinking, fly-on-the-wall society, and I pray that we all may find a deeper understanding and a greater ability to communicate with the bereaved.

Many bereaved people use imagery or metaphors to describe their feelings as they can feel that this is the only way they can communicate the true depth of their grief and loss to us.

Sometimes, particularly where deep emotions are involved, commonly used words are not enough.

Many grieving individuals don’t talk about how they really feel, there are too many things left unsaid and thoughts that are not shared.

The bereaved feel an unspoken pressure to conform and to avoid being seen as a nuisance.

Their most overwhelming fear is that those in authoritative roles may label them as unstable.

My prayer is that attitudes may change towards grief and towards the bereaved, and that we may support and activate work that improves all areas of communication and hence avoid causing further anxieties and distress to both the bereaved and their helpers and supporters.

The funeral

It is the day that no one looks forward to, and the day that all of us dread.

So how best can we prepare for the funeral, and what will help us to get through the day?

If you have never had to arrange a funeral, the question will probably arise: “What do I do?”.

The best answer will be to contact the funeral director you want to act for you and also your church minister.

Just as the midwife helps to bring a life into the world, so the role of the funeral director is to take a life, that has ended out of this world.

This week we will look into the general procedures followed in the importation, exportation and cremation of bodies or human remains.

The importation of bodies

Where a person or next of kin applies to bring in a deceased person’s body for burial in Zimbabwe, the following documents are required:

The deceased’s national identity document;

The deceased person’s passport;

A no-objection letter, for health reasons, from our Ministry of Health;

A death certificate from the exporting country must be made available;

An embalming certificate from the exporting country must be made available;

An embalming certificate from the exporting country must also be available;

A certificate of non-infectious disease/non-epidemic disease is required from the exporting country;

The funeral director or his assistant must finally check for the customs clearance stamp and advice note or waybill on the consignment.

Photocopies of required documents from the exporting country should be submitted to the District Registrar at the port of entry or the Registrar General in advance to enable him/her to consider request for the importation of the body and a clearance letter from the Ministry of Health confirming particulars of the deceased.

The exportation of bodies or human remains
Where a next of kin applies to take out the body of a deceased person for burial outside Zimbabwe, the following documents are required:

A no-objection letter from the importing country where the body will be buried;

A no objection letter for health reasons, from our Ministry of Health;

A non-infectious disease certificate from the doctor who last attended the deceased;

A form BD11 completed by the hospital where the person died;

A form BD12 issued by the doctor who last attended the deceased;

The deceased persons’ national ID card or passport is required;

Embalming certificate from the embalmer;

On receipt of the above documents, and everything else being in order, the District Registrar can issue a burial order and a death certificate to the applicant.

The District Registrar must ensure that he/she remains with photocopies of all the documents accompanying the body for record purposes.


Unless authorised by the Minister no person or funeral director shall burn any body in or at any other place other than a crematorium.

The under-mentioned forms are used for the Cremation of bodies

CR1 – Application for cremation;
CR2 – Authority to cremate;
CR3 – Certificate of medical practitioner;
CR4 – Certificate issued after post-mortem examination;
CR5 – Magistrates certificate;
CR6 – Certificate of medical doctor (still births);
CR7 – Registrar of cremation;
CR8 – Pathologist’s report.

All the above paperwork may sound rather complicated and unfeeling at a time when the last thing you want to do is to deal with forms, but remember the funeral director or his assistants are qualified to handle your situation and are aware of your feelings.

Chomi Makina is the President of the Zimbabwe Association of Funeral Assurers and Group Chief Executive Officer for Moonlight and Mashfords and can be contacted on clmakina@yahoo.com

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