Procedures Following Death
Dealing with the death of a loved one is not something most people would choose to have to do, however it is a fact of life that death is inevitable for us all, at whatever stage of our life that may occur. It requires preparation, both physical and spiritual, based on one’s beliefs and circumstances.
The following is a basic outline and information on what needs to be done to enable, where possible, the quick burial of a departed Muslim. The first step in all cases is to contact the following people immediately:
1) family doctor
2) funeral director
3) local imam
4) close relatives
Death at home or hospital and Cause of death is known:
If the deceased person’s GP had seen them at home during their last illness and can certify the cause of death or, if at hospital, the doctor is aware of the cause of death, then a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be issued free of charge, stating the cause of death. This is also referred to as a MCCD -Medical Certificate as to the Cause of Death. To register the death, you should take the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death to the Registrar of Births and Deaths for the area where the death took place (the registrar is usually based at the Civic Offices or the Town Hall.
When you go to the registry office you should also take the following:
• the deceased’s NHS medical card (if available)
• birth and marriage certificates (if available) or their passport.
You should inform the registrar of:
• the date and place of death
• the deceased’s usual address
• the deceased’s date, town and country of birth
• the date and place of death
• the deceased’s occupation
• (if married) the date of birth of the deceased’s widow/ widower and their occupation
The registrar issues death certificates at the cost of £4.00 each.
• Certificate for Burial – (green form) - this form should be given to the funeral director as an authorisation for burial.
• Certificate of Registration of Death (form BD8): This is for social security purposes and for probate etc. This certificate can be taken to the Social Security Office if you wish to claim bereavement payment and bereavement allowance.
Death in hospital:
The body would normally be transferred from the ward to the hospital mortuary. Once you have obtained a Cause of Death Certificate from the hospital and obtained a Release Note from the hospital bereavement office then you can contact your funeral director. The funeral director will then transport the body from the mortuary to the allocated mosque to be prepared for the funeral. How soon the formalities of confirming the cause of death, releasing the body to family etc will depend on individual circumstances.
Cause of death unknown:
At home if the deceased person’s GP is unable to certify the cause of death, then he/she will inform the police who in turn will inform the coroner.
At hospital if the doctor is unable to certify the cause of death, then he/she will inform the coroner. (The coroner is usually a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating certain deaths).
The matter is referred to the coroner if death occurs in any of the following circumstances at home or at hospital:
• if the deceased person was not seen by a doctor during his/ her last illness or after death or within 14 days prior to death
• if the cause of death is uncertain
• if death was sudden, violent or caused by an accident
• if the death occurred while undergoing an operation
• if death was caused by an industrial disease
• if death occurs in police custody/prison
• if the patient has spent less than 24 hours in hospital
• All children and young people under the age of 18, even if the death was due to natural causes.
The coroner may arrange for a post-mortem examination of the body to be carried out by a pathologist. The main purpose of this is to ascertain the cause of death. The consent of the relatives is not needed for this. They are, however, entitled to be represented at the examination by a doctor. If they are represented, the coroner will, if practicable, tell the relatives thetime and place of the examination.
After the post-mortem:
If the death was found to be of natural causes then the Coroner’s Office will issue a Pink Form (Form 100), this is sent directly to the Registration Office.
To register the death, you should make an appointment with the Registrar of Births and Deaths of the area where the death took place. The registrar is usually based at the Civic Offices or the Town Hall.
If the cause of death is uncertain or was due to an accident,violence, or industrial disease, then an Inquest will be held.
An Inquest is an enquiry into the medical cause and circumstances of death. It is held in public and sometimes with a jury. It is up to the coroner to decide how to organise the enquiry in a way to best serve the public interest and the interest of the relatives.
It may be important to have a lawyer to represent you if the death was caused by a road accident, or an accident at work, or other circumstances which could lead to a claim for compensation. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau to see if you can get legal aid for this.
After the inquest, the coroner will give you, free of charge, an Order for Burial (Form 101), this gives permission for the body to be buried and should be given to the funeral director so that the funeral can be held. The coroner will also send a Certificate after Inquest (form 99), stating the cause of death, to the registrar.This allows the death to be registered.
During public holidays or after office hours the Certificate for Burial (green form) can be obtained from the registrar. Please note that in some cases it may not be possible for the registrar to issue the Burial Order
out of hours.
The following arrangements will be made by the funeral director:
The grave will be ordered at your chosen cemetery
The body will be collected from the hospital mortuary and brought to the Mosque With Ghusl facilities of your choosing.
The preparations for ghusal (religious bathing) will be made.It is recommended that at least four persons be present to help bathe and carry the body.
Designated persons will be contacted by the local mosque to be available and guide the washing and prepare the Kafan (shroud) it is recommended close family members be present at the ghusl where this is possible.
The body will be bathed according to Islamic law. You and your family members can take part in this bathing if you wish to do so.
The body will then be shrouded in plain white sheets (kafan)
The body is now ready for funeral prayer.
If you wish to take the body home for a short period of time after ghusal, please inform the funeral director of your wishes.
After performing the’ Janazah’ prayer at the mosque the body is taken in a coffin to the graveyard for burial.
The downloadable leaflet (Managing the death of a Muslim) is primarily designed to provide a simple, brief overview of the process of managing the death of a Muslim within the Pennine Acute NHS Trust, although, by and large, the statutory procedures will be similar throughout the UK. It is intended to provide clarity and direction for those less familiar with the process, and who may not only be feeling traumatised at their loss, but also having to deal with the organisation of the funeral and burial of the deceased. Information contained in this booklet has been obtained through careful discussion and dialogue with the relevant people involved in the process.
This is only meant as a brief insight to help the bereaved who have little or no experience of dealing with such situations. More specific or detailed information should be sought from the relevant specialist agencies.
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