Death is an inevitability, we all come into this world with an understanding that we will one day leave it. This understanding also applies to our loved ones, we accept that there may come a time where we will have to bury our parents, siblings, children and friends.
The first thing a person should do when their parents pass away is to make sure that the deceased has their eyes closed. This can be done by passing the fingers over the eyelids and closing them gently. The Prophet (SAW) also did this for a Companion (RA), “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) came to see Abu Salamah (RA) when his sight had become fixed (he had passed away). So the Prophet (SAW) closed his eyes and said: ‘When the soul is seized and it leaves the body, the eyes follow it.’ Some of Abu Salamah’s family wept and wailed, whereupon the Prophet (SAW) said: ‘Pray to Allah only for good for yourselves, because the angels (who are present) say “amen” to whatever you utter.’ Then he said: ‘O Allah! Forgive Abu Salamah; raise his station among those who are rightly-guided; and take good care of his family that he has left behind. O Lord of the Worlds! Forgive him and us, make his grave spacious, and put light therein for him.” (Muslim) (Ahmad)
From this narration we also learn that excessive wailing should be avoided, instead the family members should make supplication. Then they should find a cloth to cover the entire body.
They should then wash the body, if the mother has passed away the womenfolk should wash her, if the father has passed away the menfolk should wash him. Umm Atiyya (RA) reported, “The Apostle of Allah (SAW) came to us when we were bathing his daughter, and he told us: Wash her with water and (with the leaves of) the lote tree, three or five times, or more than that if you think fit, and put camphor or something like camphor in the last washing; then inform me when you have finished. So when we had finished, we informed him, and he gave to us his (own) under-garment saying:” Put it next her body.” (Muslim)
After the washing has been completed the body should be wrapped in the Kafn (Burial clothing). Care should be taken that the shroud is clean and enshroud the whole body, this is because we will be resurrected in these cloths, the Prophet (SAW) has stated “A deceased will be resurrected in the clothes in which he dies.” (Abu Dawud)
This cloth should cover the entire body, there are narrations where a white cloth should be used or a striped cloth. “Of the clothing available to you, wear the white, for verily it is your best form of clothing. Shroud your dead with it as well.” (Abu Dawud) (Tirmidhi) The Prophet (SAW) has mentioned striped clothing: “Whoever can afford it, let him be shrouded in a striped cloth.” (Ahmad), “When one of you dies, let him be shrouded in a striped cloth – if it is possible to find that for him.” (Abu Dawud)
The number of cloths has been disputed by Scholars due to differing narrations, “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, was wrapped in three pieces of new white sheets of cloth from Yemen, without a shirt or a turban.” (Abu Dawud) The most accepted view is that 3 pieces should be used for a male and 5 for a female. However, some Scholars hold that two cloths should be used and that one will also suffice. The best course of action is to seek help from your local Scholar and they will inform you of the best course of action. Allah knows best.
The children of the deceased should then ensure that the body has been prayed over (Janazah prayer), then the body should be buried. Normally, the Scholars and Masjids in the locality will provide funeral services so they should be used and consulted upon the death of a parent.
After the burial has been completed then children should make supplication for their parents, this will benefit the deceased in their grave. The Prophet (SAW) has stated: “When a person dies, all his deeds come to an end except three: Sadaqah Jariyah (ongoing charity, e.g. a waqf or endowment), beneficial knowledge (which he has left behind), or a righteous child who will pray for him.” (Tirmidhi) Children should make a habit of mentioning their parents in every supplication that they make, you never know which one will be accepted.
Abu Usaid Saidi (RA) said: “Once we were sitting with the Prophet (SAW) when a person belonging to the tribe of Bani Salma came and said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah (SAW)! Are there some rights of my parents on me which I have to fulfill even after they have died?’ ‘Yes’, replied the Prophet (SAW) ‘(These are) to pray for mercy and forgiveness on their behalf, to fulfill the promises they may have made to anyone, to pay due regard to the bonds of relationship that are from their side, and to be respectful to their friends.'” (Abu Dawud) (Ibn Majah) Children should ensure that they keep a good relationship with their parents’ relatives and acquaintances. If their deceased parents have any outstanding debts children should strive to pay them off.
May Allah forgive our parents and give them Jannah. May he allow us to fulfill our parent’s rights. Ameen.