About 2 weeks ago my infant son passed away at the hospital. I will not go into details as I am still in pain for the loss. Even though he was just a baby when he passed away, his loss is still painful to me and my family.
I am writing this story for two reasons. The first is that it is helping me cope with the loss and the second reason is because as an American living in Costa Rica, I hope that my story will help any other expat understand the process for a burial in Costa Rica.
My son passed away in the neonatal section of the Calderon Guardia hospital in San Jose. He was just a few days old and after he was pronounced dead by the doctor, he was taken to the morgue. I was told that I would have to make arrangements with a funeral home to pick him up at the morgue.
Still in shock it was very difficult to get myself to look for a morgue but thankfully, my wife is Costa Rican and they were very helpful and supportive in our time of sorrow. They undertook the process to find a funeral home that could help us out.
Before I go into the funeral home search, here are the steps to burying a loved one in Costa Rica:
- Get the death certificate from the hospital
- Hire a funeral home for the funeral service
- Buy or rent a plot in a cemetery
- Pick up the body from the morgue
- Wake – This is optional and my wife and I chose not to one even though it is traditional in Costa Rica.
Going back to my story, we ended up going to three different funeral homes. At first we wanted to have our son cremated but due to financial reasons as we were not ready and certainly did not expected our son to pass away we were not financially ready.
We were quote 3 different prices ranging from $3,000 to $6,000 just for the cremation of the body.
In the end, we chose to go with a normal burial where we were quoted prices ranging from $1.500 to $3,000.
The prices were still a bit high for us and as a last resort, we went back to one of the funeral home in Guadalupe called, Funerales Guadalupe, and they were very understanding and gave us a very large discount and the total price ended up being $450 for the coffin, transportation of the body and an 8 year rental for a space in the outer section of the children’s mausoleum wall of the Guadalupe Cemetery.
Once all of the arrangements were planned, the next step was to go and pick up my son’s body from the hospital morgue. I had to go to the hospital morgue first to have the body ready for pick up with all of the necessary paperwork which included the death certificate and the hospital release form of the body along with the papers to show that all of the funeral arrangement had been done.
The funeral of my son went as planned and his casket was beautiful. He looked like a sleeping angel in it. In closing, I would like to thank my Costa Rican family who were very supportive and helpful, the staff of the Calderon Guardia Hospital and the funeral home who were very professional and understanding in our time of grief.
For those who are interested click here for a list of funeral homes in Costa Rica.