Losing a loved one is always a difficult experience and no one is fully prepared for such a shock, however long the lead-up may have been. Questions come to mind about what needs to be done before the funeral. There's a lot to think about and it's hard to get angry at everything that needs to be done in a short time. There are no operating funeral parlors in the area. The relatives of the deceased therefore have to order a coffin themselves, or in consultation with their priest, and take care of all communications with the church, printing press and the media.

With this brochure, the staff of the Vestfjörður Health Foundation would like to guide you on the main things to consider in relation to death and funerals.

Death on the southern side of Vestfjörður

The vast majority use the services of Gest Rafnsson, s. 861 7741 when death comes to a garden on the southern side of Vestfjörður.

Notice of death

Once all close relatives and friends have been notified, the announcement of the death is usually published both in a newspaper and on the radio. If the funeral date is not mentioned there, it is necessary to announce it in the same way later. It is customary to include a photo of the deceased with the announcement.


The flag rules of the Vestfjörður Health Foundation assume that when a resident of a nursing home dies, the flag is flown at half-mast at the home both on the day of death and on the day of the funeral, but before that an attempt is made to obtain permission from the relatives.

In Bolungarvík, you can get a flagpole and a flag from the town's hardware store (Reynir Ragnars). In Ísafjarðarbær, the utensil house supplies a flag pole.

Death outside the institution

In the event of a death outside the institution, the police are called as well as ambulances and a doctor who confirms the death. The police investigate the scene and decide in consultation with a doctor whether it is possible to determine the cause of death. If this is not possible, a forensic autopsy shall be conducted according to law.

Once a death has been confirmed, and the investigation by the police and the doctor has been completed, the police can allow the deceased to be placed at home, if the death occurred at home. The police are responsible for the deceased being taken to the mortuary.

Sometimes there is an opportunity to say goodbye before the deceased is taken to the morgue, and such moments can be precious. The director of nursing at the health institution is the contact person with the relatives in these cases.


We advise you to notify the priest of the death as soon as possible, among other things, to receive his help, support and care during the grief, even immediately at the deathbed.

In consultation with the church warden, or the priest, a burial place in a cemetery is assigned and a grave is taken. It is also necessary to schedule and decide the arrangements for the coffin-laying ceremony and funeral, which hymns should be sung at the funeral and whether there will be a special instrumental performance or a solo. Then the priest needs information about the deceased for memorials at the funeral. In this connection, an invitation to a hard drink and perhaps greetings from distant relatives are conveyed.

Death certificate

Death certificates are now electronic at Í

Hymn index

JHprent and Pixel have operations in Ísafjörður and take care of the installation and printing of hymnals. Before printing, information on the number of copies, the name, date of birth and date of death of the deceased, the detailed program of the funeral, including hymns, which priest sings and who takes care of singing and playing instruments must be available. Usually there is a picture of the deceased on the front page. Relatives are advised to proofread the hymnbook carefully before printing.


Coffins must be ordered well in advance. A coffin maker on Ísafjörður is Arnór Magnússon, s. 861 4624.

All coffins come with a pillow, a blanket, and a face cover. It is most common for women to be buried in glands, while men are buried in trousers and a shirt. The staff of the institution take care of the deceased in the mortuary and leave in a coffin. A morgue for the northern part of Vestfjörður is at the hospital in Ísafjörður.

If you want a cremation, you need to contact the Kirkjugarður Reykjavík parish, which runs the crematorium, by phone 585 2700.

If a coffin is ordered from another place, a case must be taken of the deceased and the staff of the health institution will take care of it if requested.

Casket laying

Casket laying is a short farewell ceremony for close family members and very close friends, usually the day before a funeral. In Ísafjörður, it can take place in the hospital chapel or Ísafjörður church. In Bolungarvík, it takes place in most cases in Hólskirkja. Many more churches are in the area and refer to priests for their use.

The coffin is then open and the deceased has a face covering, which can be removed during the ceremony, or at the end of it.

It is allowed to put a hymn book, or a Bible and/or flowers in the coffin and it is ideal to allow children to do so, if they are present. Children also love being able to put a drawing after themselves in the coffin. If young children are present at the laying of the casket, it is appropriate that they arrive early and receive support and guidance from the priest at the casket, before the ceremony begins. It is appropriate to consult with the priest beforehand about a possible change in the appearance of the deceased's face, i.e. if there is anything in the way, to remove the face veil during the ceremony.

A casket laying ceremony is often a more appropriate venue for young children to say goodbye to a loved one than a funeral. It is shorter, it is more real to the children, they get a better chance to say goodbye to the deceased in their own way and participate in the grief with their loved ones in a ceremony where it is easy to move, explain to them and answer questions, talk to them, comfort them and give them time to understand.

There is nothing to prevent relatives from placing the lid on the coffin at the end of the ceremony and securing it. Is it a symbolic farewell for some and for the comfort of knowing that the dead will no longer be mourned

The chapel at the hospital in Patreksfjörður
The chapel at the hospital in Ísafjörður
Ísafjörður church

Flowers and wreaths

Blómaval in Húsasmiðinn in Ísafjörður undertakes the making of wreaths and flower arrangements for coffins. The helper takes care of the appearance and arrangement of the flower arrangements in the church, in consultation with the relatives.

For a funeral

Other points regarding the funeral that need to be considered are who should carry the coffin from the church to the hearse and from the hearse to the grave and who should carry wreaths and flowers from the church.

The coffin is brought to the church in Ísafjörður on the morning of the funeral in consultation with the helper and the church warden, but even the day before to the churches of neighboring parishes, depending on the customs and circumstances of each place. The arrangement of wreaths and hymnals is then completed.

Anyone can move a coffin to a church, but otherwise you can contact the church warden in Ísafjörður or Bolungarvík about transportation in a hearse.


As mentioned before, there is no funeral service in the northern part of Vestfjörður. The Vestfjörður Health Foundation therefore takes care of the care and arrangement of the deceased in the area, cold storage, finishing the coffin and related communication with relatives. The fee for this service is ISK 23,000.

Other faith- and life-view associations

St. John's Chapel on Ísafjörður

In the Catholic church in Mjallargatu in Ísafjörður, Sr. Edwin Słuczan-Orkusz. He takes care of all the Vestfjörður s. 456 3804 and 823 0082,

The Ascetic Society and Civilized carry out funerals by further arrangement. In both cases, it is best to contact their office in Reykjavík.

Coping with grief

Grief is a long process that the loss puts on your shoulders. It appears in different forms and in different ways for each person. Emotions and accompanying physical symptoms are natural reactions that you must deal with. We encourage you to seek comfort and care from your loved ones and a priest. We encourage you to ask them, or us, unanswered questions that are on your mind. We refer you to the Grief Centre,

Other information

On the web is to find a large amount of information related to death, inheritance, compensation rights and much more.

Main contacts

On behalf of the Vestfjörður Health Foundation: Director of Nursing, Hildur Elísabet Pétursdóttir, s. 450 4500,

Due to deaths in the northern part of Vestfjörður

Sr. Magnus Erlingsson, s: 456 3171 and 456 3560, hs. 456 3017,

Sr. Fjölnir Ásbjörnsson, hs. 456 7672, cell phone 866 2581,

Þingeyri and Dýrafjörður

Sr. Hildur Inga Rúnarsdóttir, hs. 456 8211, cell phone 869 4993,

Due to deaths in the southern part of Vestfjörður

Sr. Kristján Arason, s: 8466569,

For Patreksfjörður, Tálknafjörður and nearby areas, Gestur Rafnsson, s. 861 7741, funeral services.

Other contacts

Arnór Magnússon coffin maker, s. 861 4624.

Pixel printing workshop, s. 575 2710,

Blómaval Húsasmiðinnu, s. 525 3310.

Church warden in Ísafjörður Church, Matthildur Ásta Hauksdóttir, vs. 456 3560, cell phone 863 1443.

Nursing home Berg: 4504595

Hearse in Bolungarvík (Elvar): s. 893 7039

Updated 3 July 2024 (HEP)

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