English, Memoir, Racauan

Treating Death at Home in Jakarta

Treating your dying relative at home today in Jakarta could mean a lot of trouble. 

My uncle had complications disease for more than 10 years. After my grandparents and his twin younger brother died, he lost the will to live and his condition was deteriorating both physically and mentally. The extended family decided to took care of him at my grandparents’ home, suspending the selling of the house. 

My uncle was an ex drug user of the 90s. He went to Islamic Boarding School for years after rehab. His organ started to failed one by one. Long story short, he died at home after his lungs failed, threw out blood from his mouth, nose and ear. It was a mess.

We called a nearby health center to confirm his death. Our mistake: we did not asked for a written statement. After we buried him, there was a lot of complications that took weeks to resolve. This story is written so you, dear readers, won’t repeat the same problem.

First of all, if possible, don’t let your loved one died at home in the first place. I know dying in a familiar place is many people’s wish. But the world is for the living, and if the person have chronic disease, no matter how low the hope to survive is, better stay at the hospital. Especially if, like my uncle, the disease is contagious.

Secondly, if you really can’t help it and need her/him to be at home so badly, prepare the number to call for any emergency, including death. For chronic disease that has been going on years or decades, hell, prepare the documents: death documents to be signed by the doctor, or even the will of the sick person. Inheritance is one of the thing that, like it or not, breaks family and need to be talk about.

Thirdly, if the disease is chronic or contagious, and you can’t bring the body to hospital or funeral service either because you don’t have the money, or if it’s tradition to prepare the body at your own house, make sure you have phone numbers of hospitals that have specialty in that disease so you could hire a nurse or specialist to take care of the deceased. Normal funeral home in Jakarta mostly does not want to deal with infectious disease such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, or skin disease.

Fifth, prepare also the cleaner service from the hospital, who will use disinfectant in your home. Funeral home need to be really clean before and after the corpse got her/his last respect. It will cost you money, don’t hesitate to asked other relative to donate.

Fifth, go to nearby health center. Ask two things: first yellow bags to put medical trash, and second permission to put the medical trash in their bin. In Jakarta there is no law that regulate this. And if the health center bin is full, you got to take the medical trash somewhere else. The health center use outsourcing companies to take care if their medical trash, and the truck that takes the trash come once a week.

Medical trash are anything that leave liquid, organs, syringe, hair, or belongings that got stained by the deceased patients body, like sheets, clothing or utensils. This trash can be overwhelming. You can use your own car to bring these trash to the health center, but remember to clean your car with disinfectant after. If you want to hire the outsourcing company, prepare around 300USD. In the health center, it’s free so long as you are polite enough to talk to the care taker. Because these are not in their job description and they are doing it to help you. Your trash will not be written in their logbook, because, like I said, there is not yet a regulation for it.

Death certificate is the hardest. Without death certificate, it’s hard to make other legal documents, such as dealing with the cemetery, or inheritance problem. Now, if your deceased loved one, like my uncle, does not have doctor/health officer legal written letter pronounce her/him died, it will be a bureaucratic hell , going back and forth from your district head, to regent head, to health center, to hospital, to collect signatures from these people so they can pronounce the death. And also signatures from families and neighbors. It was really tiring.

If the death certificate has been issued, you can start to handle other problems such as inheritance, for example. Now that’s the thing that disinterest me the most. So this is the end of the story.

Good luck.