So for those who follow me on Instagram, you’ve been expecting this post.
For those that don’t (and shame on you!), hubby’s grandfather died Saturday morning.
To make a long (and personal) story short, he was diagnosed with cancer about a month ago. That and being 89…this didn’t come as a surprise. But that didn’t make it any less painful. He spent his final weeks at home surrounded by family, and that’s what matters most.
We got the call Saturday morning only 10 minutes after they realized what had happened. We quickly ate breakfast and hit the road to get to the köy (village) and make arrangements. I’ve only been to two funerals in Turkey, and both have been köy funerals… So everything I am going to describe may be specific to village life. I wouldn’t know otherwise.
Firstly, these funerals are conducted the day of death… So getting everything ready ASAP is critical. We called the number for the city service that handles deaths (not sure if you would call it a morgue) and waited in the small house with the body draped in a sheet. Visitors came (mostly family, some neighbors) and said başımız sağolsun, a condolence. Eventually a big white truck came and a man prepared to wash the body and prepare it for burial. No embalming necessary.
In Islam there is a special washing required for the dead as a type of purification for burial. This service is provided by the city and is done in the truck (which resembles a moving van).
In the meantime, the women were served tea and snacks by the ladies of the house. We huddled by the soba on this particularly cold day and talked about grandfather’s final days. After the body was washed they prepared the casket (a simple wooden box) with a green drape over the top with an excerpt from the Quran written in Arabic (the ayah about everyone returning to their maker). While the men carried the casket to the graveyard (religiously, women are forbidden from going at the time of burial), the women covered their hair and began to pray. And there was a lot of praying.
It was then that I learned more about how to use a teşbih (pic on instagram). There are certain phrases you recite a certain number of times, and the string of beads help you keep count. All of the women recited these phrases (for example : Bismillah ar rahman ir rahim, la ilahe illallah, and estağfurullah) for over an hour while the body was being buried. When these things are said in this manner, the angels write it down in the name of the dead and ease their suffering in the grave.
In Islam it is said that you can suffer in the grave before you go to heaven or hell, to cleanse some of your sins. When someone prays for you it can lessen your suffering.
We followed these hours of prayer with the töbe prayer, which is in Turkish. The men had other rituals and prayers to perform graveside, but I didn’t see them. There were many personal recitations of Al fatiha and finally some songs that were sung (one about dates and one about a butterfly? I’m not positive).
Anyway, once the men returned everyone was given food and drink. The women were given gifts of headscarves (which isn’t weird or pushy, it’s normal). We sat together for a while and talked, visited, and tried to console each other. Finally, as the sun went down we all went home.
Allah rahmet eylesin. May Allah accept grandfather to jannah.