What To Do When a Loved One Dies? There are five primary steps you need to take when your loved one has passed away

There are five primary steps you need to take when your loved one has passed away

01

ALERT THE RIGHT PEOPLE

02

MEDICAL EXAM/ PROCEDURE

(where applicable)

03

FUNERAL PREPARATION

04

FUNERAL (JANAZAH) PRAYER

05

BURIAL

Step 1: ALERT THE RIGHT PEOPLE

Depending on where your loved one died (home vs. medical facility) and under what circumstances (expected vs. unexpected), you will take a slightly different set of actions. In either case, you are looking for a medical professional to provide an official declaration of death.

Once that is provided, then depending on the specific circumstance, you can either contact a funeral home to pick up the body (Step 3) or you may need to wait until an organ donation and/or autopsy (Step 2) has been completed before moving to step 3.

Where did the death occur?

Home

HOSPICE CARE

If under hospice care,

  • Contact your hospice care nurse/provider

  • They will send someone to the home to pronounce the official death

OTHER CASES

  • Call 911

  • Contact your loved one’s physician

  • Determine whether your loved one has a DNR (what’s that?)

  • EMT may pronounce death at the home and/or transport the body to the hospital, where medical staff will officially pronounce death

Medical/ Assisted Living Facility

  • Alert Facility Staff

  • Someone from the medical team will officially pronounce the death

Aside from providing immediate notifications to authorities and/or healthcare professionals, there are other people and organizations that should be notified (see full list)

Step 2: ORGAN DONATION AND/OR AUTOPSY

Getting an autopsy and/or organ donation may not be applicable; however, here are some points to consider.

Organ Donation

If your loved one was a registered organ/tissue donor or expressed in their will that they wish to be one, then the surgery team at the hospital would remove the approved organs and/or tissues based on the deceased’s wishes as well as what is medically viable at the time.

How does organ donation work, and is it allowed in Islam?

Autopsy

In some cases, an autopsy may be required by your state law. Particularly, when there is an unexpected death where there is no definitive cause of death, certain states and organizations (e.g., life insurance company) will require that an autopsy be conducted.

What is an autopsy and is it allowed in Islam?

Step 3: FUNERAL PREPARATION

Once the body of the deceased has been approved for release, one will need to contact a funeral service for transportation to a funeral home/ghusl facility. There, the body will be prepared for burial.

Contact Funeral Home

Contact a funeral home to set up the pickup of the body from the hospital/corner/home to be transported to a funeral home or ghusl location so that the body can be prepared for burial 

​Do I have to use a Muslim funeral home service?

Prepare Body

  • Once the body has arrived, it will be cleaned and shrowded, where applicable

  • Most ghusuls will require several people to assist

  • Most local Masjid and Muslim community centers can provide a list of volunteers that can help

What are the steps and rules on how to correctly prepare the body for burial?

Transport to Prayer and/or Cemetery

Once the body has been prepared for burial, it will be transported either to a separate location (e.g., mosque, community center) for the Janazah prayers or directly to the cemetery. In the case where the body is directly transported to the cemetery, the Janazah prayer will take place at the cemetery prior to the burial

As the body is being prepared for the funeral, this may be a good time to start communicating the details around the timing of the funeral prayer and burial (How should I make this announcement?). Your funeral home director will be able to coordinate logistics, work with the cemetery operator, and ensure all legally required documentation has been completed prior to burial.

Step 4: FUNERAL (JANAZAH) PRAYER

Once the body has been prepared for burial, the funeral (Janazah) prayer is performed prior to the burial. The funeral prayer often takes place in/around a local Masjid/community center or can also be performed at the cemetery prior to burial.

How to perform the Janazah prayer?

Step 5: BURIAL

After the Janazah prayer has been completed, the body can now be buried. The cemetery services team will have the burial plot prepared.

How to choose a cemetery and how should the burial take place?